What Your Trainer Might Be Getting Wrong About Shoulder Presses

If you're trying to increase your upper body strength, one of the best exercises to try is the shoulder press. Also called an overhead press, this exercise involves lifting dumbbells or a barbell up toward the ceiling. It works various muscles in the shoulders and requires an engaged core (via Verywell Fit). However, there are some common mistakes made during this move that even your trainer might be falling prey to.

According to Livestrong, many people push their weights straight above their heads during a shoulder press. This may not sound like an issue, but it can actually cause you to overarch your back in order to get enough range of motion to complete the move. Arching your back too far, especially when lifting heavy weights, is a recipe for a pulled muscle or worse. Instead of a traditional shoulder press, Livestrong recommends trying a landmine tall kneeling press. This exercise is performed by kneeling on the floor and using both hands to press one end of a barbell upward. The other end of the barbell should stay on the floor. A landmine tall kneeling press allows you to perform a movement similar to a traditional shoulder press while bending slightly forward, which omits the need to arch your back.

Other shoulder press mistakes to fix

Overarching your back isn't the only mistake you might be making with the shoulder press. According to BarBend, if you're using a barbell, the width of your hands is crucial for a safe press. If they are too close together or too far apart, your upper body will need to compensate for that extra movement as well as you try to keep yourself steady while performing the move. This puts you at a higher risk of injury. Ideally, your hands should be slightly wider than shoulder-width, or whatever position keeps you from flaring your elbows in or out.

Another important thing to remember when doing a shoulder press, or any exercise, is your warm-up (via Livestrong). The shoulder press requires a lot of mobility in the shoulders that you won't find if you just came from the office or rolled out of bed. Do a few minutes of cardio and stretching before your workout in order to loosen up your muscles. You'll be able to perform better and reduce your risk of injury.