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The Best Press For Better Shoulders & Lunges?!

sandbag training

To many people a lot of what those of us talk about when it comes to functional fitness just seems like unnecessary semantics. A great example is the idea of overhead presses. There will be those that say, “Josh, really?! Does it matter if you call it a shoulder press or overhead press?” My response is a resounding YES! The real reason that people have such a hard time of understanding the philosophy of “movement not muscles” is that we poorly define what movement means and the impact it has on your training.

The saying, “train movement, not muscles” is very popular in functional training but it is also very misleading. The implication is that if we train movement, we aren’t training muscles? Of course that is impossible, there is no way to train movement and NOT train muscles. However, the difference comes in understanding that training movement allows us to train more muscles so naming them becomes almost impossible in an exercise.

Additionally, it isn’t just about making a muscle or a few muscles stronger. What we are trying to teach with functional training is how these muscles work together in very specific ways. Our body is NOT a Frankenstein combination of muscles. Which muscles work together and when they work are essential in our health, strength, fitness, and performance.

shoulder exercises

A perfect example is overhead press versus a shoulder press. The biggest reason that most have problems with pressing overhead is because they focus on the shoulder pressing rather than understanding how the whole body must be integrated to perform a press well. The shoulders are pretty small to our overall body and it would be silly to try to use them exclusively to lift heavy weights overhead.

core training

When we learn how to press correctly we not only reduce or eliminate and issues with the shoulders, but we lift more and we train the shoulders, but so many MORE muscles at the same time!

The way we help people understand the connection that the shoulder has with the rest of the body is to use half kneeling presses. The half kneeling press actually does break our concept of stable to unstable, but we break our rule for good reason. In a more unstable environment we can quickly identify movement compensations, we FORCE one to learn how to connect the body, and we build proper movement that will have great carry over to other forms of lifting.

Unlike movements like the hip hinge and squat, pressing doesn’t have the complexity and teaching the movement in a more stable environment isn’t really as necessary as it is with some of these other patterns. Being half kneeling REQUIRES one to learn how to press from the ground up, but why is that important?

What you see above is the connection of the body that Thomas Meyers of “Anatomy Trains” call the Spiral Line of the body. It is not a singular muscle, but a connection of….

Splenius Capitis > Rhomboids (opposite side to splenius capitis) > serratus anterior > External/internal oblique > TFL (opposite side of obliques) > ITB > Anterior tibialis > Peroneus longus > biceps femoris >sacrotuberous ligament > sacral fascia > erector spinae

OR simply how your right foot connects to your left shoulder. Hopefully you can quickly see why relying on the shoulder alone causes issues in our strength and health of the shoulder. This is also why using a half kneeling position can be so powerful, we actually aim to target this specific connection in a rather simple and practical way.

DVRT Master, Cory Cripe and Jordan Rudolph break down the key concepts of being half kneeling to get the most out of half kneeling pressing. 

That takes a moment for people to really digest, your feet are connected to your shoulders?! Where is that workout in any muscle magazine? This is where functional fitness is designed to help educate people on how our bodies are actually designed to work. It does take a willingness to think bigger than the muscle you are focused upon to really grasp, but when you perform the movements it becomes a drastic difference in what you feel through the WHOLE body and the strength you build overall.

We love using our DVRT half kneeling Arc Press because it lays such a great foundation to having a better press and understanding how to press correctly. That doesn’t mean we don’t integrate other tools though. Physical therapist, Jessica Bento broke down several progressions in using kettlebells that can be used after we dial in that Arc Press.

The kettlebell gives us not just more freedom of motion because it is an independent moving weight, but the shape helps direct us in the correct pressing motion. Additionally, we can amplify the foot and core connection in the shoulder by using the kettlebell in different ways. The grip instantly helps and a big reason we begin with the Arc Press is teaching people how grip plays a huge role in our shoulder stability and core strength.

shoulder exercises

However, we can also use the kettlebells to develop tension to learn how to create stability in more dynamic actions like lunges (stay tuned on how they relate!). What you see Jessica doing with a super band pressed out is creating a strong plank position to develop a better “platform” to press from. The more we learn to create a stable foundation the strong and safer our press becomes.

We don’t want to become reliant on that tension though so Jessica shows how we progress these half kneeling kettlebell presses to teach more reflexive core work and overall body stability.

These half kneeling positions can build great strength, lay the foundation for more pressing options, and even translate to a lunge? How so? Check out this video by Jordan Rudolph explaining how most people fail in the lunge because they lack frontal plane strength and how these exercises can be such a great solution!

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