shoulder press machine

The shoulder press works several muscles of the upper body and offers a host of benefits that improve daily functioning. This exercise can be performed with dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells, resistance bands or a machine. To execute, stand or sit with your weight of choice in each hand at shoulder level with your elbows bent. Straighten your back, stabilize your abdomen then press the weights overhead by extending your arms. Slowly return to the starting position.


shoulder press machine


Shoulder press machine

Whether you’re working on a weightlifting program or just want to get back mobility, it’s important to keep the muscles in your upper body conditioned.

These muscles help you do everyday tasks, like putting dishes up high in a cabinet or placing items overhead on a shelf.

One way to keep your upper body in shape is by including the overhead press, also called a shoulder press machine, in your overall exercise routine.

Muscles at work during the shoulder press machine

Standing overhead press machine

If you choose to do the overhead press from a standing position, you’ll work most of the large muscles in your upper body, including the:

Because being upright requires balance, you also recruit the muscles in your core, including your abdominals and lower back.

In addition to the power from your upper body, your lower body helps assist when you push a weighted bar overhead.

Seated overhead press

If you perform the overhead press in a seated position with your back pressed against the back of a pad, strength and mobility coach Matt Pippin, CSCS says the core activation will go away. The shoulders and triceps will perform all of the work.

How to perform an overhead press

When executing any exercise that involves using weight, you need to understand the function and pattern of the movement before you hit the gym.

Rader explains that an overhead press is simply a movement in which resistance is pushed above the head. You can do this in a variety of ways, like by using:

  • both hands simultaneously
  • one hand at a time
  • a single barbell held by both hands
  • one free weight in each hand

Check your shoulder mobility

With this in mind, you also need to find out if you have the shoulder mobility, or range of movement, to perform the exercise safely.

Benefits of shoulder press exercise

Improved Strength

The most obvious benefit of the shoulder press exercise is improved strength. The exercise targets several of the major upper body muscles including the deltoids, trapezius, triceps, serratus anterior and the upper portion of the pecs. This exercise is particularly important for women who tend to lack upper body strength. Although you don’t need to worry about it now, as you age you begin to lose muscle and it could eventually be difficult to lift something as small as a can of soup above your head. The shoulder press is an important exercise to do now and continue to do throughout your life to help maintain your health and independence.

Stronger Bones

An important benefit of the shoulder press exercise, as well as any other strength-training exercise, is increased bone strength. During the lift, the load placed on your bones by the weights stresses them and causes them to adapt, just like your muscles. Your bones respond by increasing their mineral density and becoming stronger, which decreases your risk of osteoporosis — something that will benefit you later on.

Improved Stability

You will likely experience improved stability in your arms, shoulders and torso after several workouts doing the shoulder press. The movement calls upon the stabilizer muscles of your wrists, elbows and shoulders to ensure that your joints stay in place as you press the weights. While the exercise does not directly target your torso muscles, they are used extensively to maintain your posture as you lift the weights overhead. This will eventually lead to better core stabilization and overall balance, especially if you perform the shoulder press standing up.

Improvements in Other Areas

The shoulder press exercise can benefit you in other areas of your active life. For example, regular shoulder presses can improve your performance during triceps-targeting exercises, bench presses and even handstand pushups. Keeping your muscles strong with the shoulder press exercise will also decrease your risk of injury during other activities such as swimming, softball, lacrosse or other instances where you use your arms and upper body.




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