5 Top Overhead Press Variations!

Seeing a weight pressed overhead is becoming an increasingly rare sight in gyms these days. 5 Top Overhead Press Variations! notes that overhead pressing is hard work and has led to it being quite the underused exercise.

The importance of overhead pressing is indisputable however; it features in many classic, highly productive strength and muscle programmes such as 5 x 5’s, German Volume Training and the 20 rep squat program.  Here are 5 variations to help boost your strength, muscle size and overall health markedly.

1. Barbell push press
Being able to barbell press your bodyweight overhead is a respectable achievement. Using the big, powerful muscles of the legs and hips to aid in hoisting the bar above you means extra weight can be lifted. Incorporating the push press into your programme will help you become a stronger and more explosive athlete!

2. Bradford press
An interesting press variation which will pack plenty of muscle onto your shoulders. Alternating between the barbell in front of and behind your neck effectively stimulates the front and side deltoids. Lighter weights and higher reps can produce excellent results which is great news for veteran lifters who don’t want any further wear and tear on their joints.

3. Scrape the rack press
This is an awesome shoulder blaster! Pressing the barbell and simultaneously pushing forward into the rack allows you to target the shoulders without having to focus on balancing the bar. This exercise can be performed standing or seated . Like the Bradford press, this lift  is well suited to higher reps.

4. Ahrens press
One of the big advantages of dumbbell training is the huge range of angles on offer. Pressing the dumbbells upwards and outwards offers a unique stimulus that will target muscle fibres that you wouldn’t use in other pressing versions.

5. One arm dumbbell press
It’s good to include some unilateral work in your programme to even out strength imbalances and recruit extra of muscle fibres located in your (midsection) core. Try using a thick-handled dumbbell for that extra dimensional grip challenge!

Whether you’re seeking to pack pounds onto your bench press, want maximum power for the clean and jerk or simply desire cannonball delts, overhead pressing is a necessity. Work hard at it and you’ll be on your way to reaching your ‘expected’ or ‘genetic’ maximum strength and muscle potential, but no one says you need stop there!

Alan Riseborough

Alan is a strength and physique enthusiast and has 28 years' of training experience behind him. He has competed in powerlifting, arm wrestling, bodybuilding and grip strength competitions. He also includes rigorous bodyweight, sprinting and kettlebell training regularly in his routines. He believes in the transformative power of the squat which is (believe it or not) his favourite exercise!

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