Train The Overhead Press For Better Mobility & Bone Strength
One of the most important but overlooked exercises is the overhead press. Being able to perform overhead motions such as putting away groceries on high shelves or trimming trees in your backyard are necessary tasks.
As important as overhead motions are, we rarely do them often enough to maintain strength, mobility, and range-of-motion at overhead tasks. That’s where the overhead press comes in.
It’s a simple exercise that you can include in any workout, whether you train at home or in the gym. Another benefit of the overhead press is that it is great for maintaining bone strength because it loads the spine in a similar way as a barbell squat. Training for bone strength is critical for anyone over 35 since bone loss begins to accelerate after this age.
How To Train The Overhead Press:
I like to have people start with a unilateral overhead press in which you train each arm separately. Grab a weight in your right hand. Take a split stance with the left foot slightly forward and the right foot slightly back. Tighten your core and raise the weight so that you are holding it at shoulder height with your grip in neutral (palm facing the side of your shoulder). Press the weight up overhead until your elbow is extended. Next, slowly lower the weight back down to should height under control and repeat.
Perform the overhead press 12 to 15 times using a weight that gets difficult by the last rep. Then switch sides. Perform 2 to 3 sets.
A good use of time is to alternate between the overhead press and a lower body exercise such as the split squat. That way you can shorten rest periods. If you are in good condition, you can go right from one exercise to another with out resting. If you feel a little out of breath after the exercise, rest 60 seconds before going from the overhead press to the squat and back.
Other overhead press variations include performing both arms at the same time with dumbbells or using a barbell for a bilateral press. Note that if you have trouble with your shoulders, a neutral grip dumbbell press (with palm towards your body) will put less stress on the shoulders than if you have your palm facing away from the body.
Remember to work on increasing your strength. Once you can comfortably perform the overhead press 12 times, use a heavier weight. As you build baseline strength throughout the body, you can go even heavier, using weights that you can only do for 6 or 8 reps. This is a trick that can force the body to adapt to get stronger and build more muscle and bone.