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Focus On Form: Perfecting The Shoulder Press Exercise

If there’s one upper body exercise that you want to make sure you are doing in your workout program regularly it’s the shoulder press. The shoulder press is a terrific compound exercise for working all three heads of the shoulder muscle, as well as hitting the triceps as well.

For this reason, it’s great for generating strength, for burning up calories as you perform it (and spiking the metabolism so you continue to burn calories long after you’re finished), and for improving your power capability.

The shoulder press can also be performed with a set of dumbbells or a barbell, so there are plenty of ways that you can go about incorporating it into your workout routine.

This said, many people who start performing the shoulder press in their workout do so using an incorrect technique, so it’s something to stop and pay attention to.

Let’s take a closer look at the key form requirements to note so that you can perfect this exercise.

Avoid Locking The Elbows

The very first thing that you need to make sure you’re doing is never hyper-extending the elbows. For some people this isn't much of a problem as their body doesn't move this way naturally, so they don’t have to worry.

For others however, if you do have joints that do hyper-extend, you need to be very careful you don’t lock the elbows as you drive the weight upward.

Doing so is going to place an excessive amount of strain on the elbow joint and only lead to pain down the road.

Think of keeping a slight bend in the elbows as you go as that will ensure proper form. It may feel weird at first, but keep at it and it’ll feel normal in time.

Keep Your Abs Tight

Next, it’s also a must that you keep your abs tight. This is going to help you for a couple of different reasons.

First, it helps strengthen the abs, which is clearly a good thing. Then second, it is also going to help to keep your spinal column in the proper position, which will help ensure that you avoid excess stress and strain coming down on the lower back.

Those who sustain an arched back position are going to have all the stress from the weight overhead coming down on their low back, so this is instantly going to put you in serious risk of problems.

Keep your abs and glutes tight and you won’t have this issue.

Move Through The Full Range Of Motion

It’s also essential that you move through the full range of motion as you perform this exercise. Some people get into the habit of not lowering the weight the full way down because it is the hardest part of the movement pattern and where they are weakest in.

Therefore, if they use the full range of motion, they can’t add as much weight.

But remember, lifting more weight never takes precedence over using good form. Form comes first and that means moving through the full range of motion.

If you want to reap maximum strength gains from the shoulder press, it’ll be a must that you are going all the way down with each rep you do.

So there you have the key points to keep in mind as you move through your workout session doing the shoulder press exercise. It can be a very powerful, results-producing exercise but only if done correctly. Try and watch yourself in the mirror as you perform it for the first few times as that can give you a very good look at whether you are in fact performing it correctly.

About the Author

Shannon Clark has a degree in Exercise Science and is an AFLCA certified personal trainer. She has written on the topics of health, fitness and nutrition for the last 8 years. Her insights are regularly published on bodybuilding.com, askmen.com and FitRated.com. FitRated is a leading fitness equipment review site offering fitness insights on equipment, workout plans and weight loss strategies.

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