account My cart 0
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

The Best Overhead Press For Bad Shoulders

sandbag workout equipment

If you know me, you aren’t probably shocked to hear I tore my rotator cuff in high school (yea, I did it benching too heavy, as a good teenage boy would do) that led me to thinking doing overhead work for many years was not good because obviously, I had what I thought, were bad shoulders. I ran with the idea of not going below 90 degrees on my press and that actually only made the problem worse because then I built a HUGE deficit in my range of motion. In fact, one day I tried going a bit deeper than 90 and my shoulders hurt badly!

The sad part is it was with relatively light weight, I realized I was making my bad shoulders much worse. Then in around 2002 I would learn to how to do overhead press work correctly and I really never looked back. You see, the first issue people have with doing any sort of overhead press work is they think it is just about your shoulders, it is NOT! I would actually say you don’t even think about your shoulders if you press correctly.

Instead, using your feet, your hips, your core, your lats, and your grip are really the essentials. These are the ways you connect your whole body and build strength, stability, and mobility at the same time. Of course you might be wondering if this is such a great solution for bad shoulders why doesn’t everyone do it. After all, I agree with renowned physical therapist, Lee Burton, not being able to go overhead is a health, not a fitness issue.

The answer probably comes from the fact the bodybuilding isolated approach to looking at our body still is very prominent. I can tell you because back in my strongman competing days I would regularly compete against guys bigger and that could lift overall more weight than me. However, in strongman competitions, efficiency and endurance are just as important as overall strength. My fellow competitors would focus on building up their shoulders while I would practice connecting my body more and more efficiently. It worked as I would often out perform guys that were confused on how they were bigger and stronger, but I could out lift them.

overhead press

My personal story isn’t very scientific, but I wanted to give you a practical example before delving into more of the science. The connection I speak of with the feet, hips, core, lats, and grip is founded in A LOT of research.

thoracic mobilitycore strength

Cool, but HOW do we teach these concepts and are some overhead press exercises better than others? As you may guess my answer is YES! Starting people half kneeling is a great start because it forces them to learn to use their feet and being in a less stable environment exposes imbalance and compensations, lastly, we get to directly tap into the foot, hip, core, lat, and grip connection. Not everyone remembers to use these principles that is why we will often use an XL mini band or a superband around people’s feet/ankles to help them understand how to link their whole body.

strong feetstrong feet

Then my favorite overhead press to teach is our Arc Press. Why? For one, it is really a single arm press (yes, two hands are on it but only to create stability for the one pressing arm), we keep our arm in a neutral position so it is a shoulder friendly exercise for those with bad shoulders, our grip has to be really engaged (which connects to our core), and what is MOST unique is the lateral movement that forces more of our glutes, core, and lats to be active. Not bad right?

Even as good as the drill is, people don’t understand it often and don’t reap all the benefits. That is why it is great to have Coach Cory Cripe explain it below and we will show some progressions as well! If you focus on our Arc Press I have seen people with what they thought were the worst shoulders start to press overhead and without pain! This is a great step to not only improving your upper body strength, but restoring great health.

This week you can not only save 25% on our Ultimate Sandbags/water bags, but when you do you will also get our 12 week DVRT jump start program to help you maximize your training. Just use code “save25” HERE