Why You Need to Lift Overhead


‘The Military Press is bad for your shoulders.’

‘You don’t really need any direct shoulder work – they get hit by working all of your other major muscle groups.’

Sound familiar? Well guess what – you should and need to press overhead! There are a lot of reasons why – here’s an excerpt from an article on overhead lifting from the CrossFit Journal that can explain in better words than I can:

“The overhead press is an important component of upper-body training for several sports, and it is one of the oldest weight-room exercises. It has been used for years as a primary exercise for shoulder strength and rehabilitation because of its balance of anterior/ posterior muscle involvement. In contrast to the bench press, which is an inherently anterior-dominant movement, the press locks the weight out overhead to recruit all the musculature on both the front and back of the shoulder. This provides a superior strength stimulus for all the muscles involved in stabilizing the shoulder girdle and handling loads that must be moved through
an overhead range of motion. In addition to being functionally necessary, training overhead work capacity is above all safe. In fact, failing to prepare for the rigors
of ordinary overhead movement can predispose the shoulder to mechanical dysfunction.”

An important note: the traps should be activley engaged when weight is supported overhead. From the same article, here’s why:

” … the anatomy of the shoulder lends itself best to pressing overhead when the trapezius is engaged at the top of the press. This is because the shoulder blades (the scapula, plural scapulae) support the weight overhead—because the arm bones—the humerus, ulna, and radius—articulate with the scapula, and line up under the load when the arms are locked out …”

‘Active traps’ – or shrugging the shoulders up towards the ears – is also important for preventing shoulder impingement, as it the scapula is rotated up and out of the way by the trapezius contraction.

So there you have it – don’t be afraid of incorporating the overhead press into your workout routine. Here is a link to the full article quoted above in the CrossFit Journal.

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