The standing overhead press is possibly the best upper body exercise for building muscle. Today, the bench press gets all the glory as the best upper body pushing movement, but back in the day, the standing overhead press was the main exercise to some of the most impressive physiques. Through the years, all the big names in weightlifting like Sandow, Steve Reeves, Reg Park, and Arnold used overhead pressing.
Until 1972 the overhead press was a main exercise in weightlifting competitions but athletes arched their back so much to press more weight overhead that it became too hard for judges to tell if there was “excessive arching” and it was replaced with the bench press.
Standing overhead press muscles worked
The standing overhead press is actually more effective than the bench press at building upper body mass. The muscles that take the main load during this exercise are the shoulders, the triceps and the upper chest. However, there are a number of other larger and smaller muscle groups involved during the execution of this exercise.
Because you are standing up rather than laying down, your core muscles ( your abs, obliques, transverse abdominal muscles, lower back and spinal stabilizers) work harder in order to stabilize your body, which means a better workout for the back, legs, and abs. Besides, well developed shoulders look more powerful than a big chest and small shoulders.
Does standing overhead press work your upper chest ?
Yes it does train the upper chest to an extent, however it is primarily a shoulder builder. While you’ll surely get some upper chest development from doing overhead presses, especially if you watch your form and go low with the bar, it’s a good idea to add some incline work for the chest as well.
Standing overhead press benefits
– You get a full body workout
Besides the shoulders, arms and upper chest, you work your back, abs and legs while pressing. More muscle being worked means more HGH gets released.
– You get a full shoulder workout with one exercise
The overhead press works all 3 shoulder heads of the shoulders while the bench press works only the front deltoids.
– Overhead pressing helps in fixing shoulder imbalances
Shoulder imbalances can occur because of excessive bench pressing. Those who bench press very often but pay less attention to their back and rear shoulders can get what is known as rounded shoulders. By working all three heads of the shoulders, overhead presses can help in fixing this issue.
– You don’t need a spotter
With the overhead press you won’t need a spotter like you do with the bench press. You will never get stuck under the bar; all you need to do, is to let go of the bar and it will fall on the floor instead of your chest or face.
How to do the overhead press
– Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and the bar resting on your upper chest.
– The grip should be slightly wider than shoulder width.
– Elbows should be pointing forward and knees tight.
– Squeeze your glutes and press.
Remember, never use too heavy and arch your back too much as this can lead to injury.