Overhead Press: Exercise to Prevent Shoulder Girdle Injury

Overhead Press: Exercise to Prevent Shoulder Girdle Injury

Rushing to perform overhead squats can lead to shoulder injury, development of shoulder strength and coordination first is critical, along with having a competent front squat.

The shoulder girdle consists primarily of the scapula bone and the clavicle bone or collar bone which move together as a unit. The shoulder girdle muscle are those which attach to and move these two bones. They are  trapezius muscle, Serratus Anterior, Rhomboids, Pectoralis Minor, Levator Scapulae and the Sternocleidomastoid.

The press, push press, push jerk, snatch, and overhead squat all require a specific level of shoulder mobility before you should perform them under any significant load. If these movements are performed with an improper range of motion, then they can cause significant damage to your shoulder while simultaneously setting your back and hips up for disaster, too. The best way to prevent injuries is to do overhead pressing.

Overhead Pressing

  • Hold the bar (independent of weights) on your front shoulders and stand shoulder width apart. Hands should never touch your shoulders.

  • Gripping the bar close to your wrist, in the base of your palm. Do not close to your fingers.

  • Press the bar overhead in a straight line. Unfortunately your head is in the way. So you�ll need to move your head & torso during the Overhead Press.

  • Press until your elbows are locked. Then shrug your traps for extra support.

  • Hold for a second and travel back to your shoulder.

  • Once you have mastered the exercise without weight, begin loading. 

Once the overhead press is mastered, you can add load and speed with the push press. After the push press is a smooth and coordinated movement, you can progress into the push jerk. When the push jerk becomes a natural movement, then learning the overhead squat is next.

Developing overhead stability is a combination of establishing enough muscle flexibility, joint mobility, trigger point reduction, and stability. Focus on building and maintaining good posture


  • Start each rep with elbows in front of the bar & chest up.

  • The higher the bar on your chest, the shorter the distance it has to travel. Put the bar close to your clavicles.

  • Quickly tilt your head back & forth. Clavicles might hurt at first, your skin will adapt & thicken.

  • Go Forward. You�ll miss reps if you stay back vs. getting under the bar.

  • Shift your torso forward when the bar reaches forehead level.

  • If you breathe at the top, you can bounce the bar off your chest making the next rep easier. Breathe at the bottom & you�ll press from a dead stop, making the next rep harder. The former allows more weight. The latter makes the exercise harder, making the former easier.

  • Overhead Press: Exercise to Prevent Shoulder Girdle InjuryThe Overhead Press works your body as one piece. Your trunk & legs stabilize the weight while your shoulders, upper-chest & arms press the weight overhead.

  • Builds Muscle. Abs & back stabilize the weight. Shoulders, upper-chest & triceps press the weight overhead.

  • The Overhead Press works all shoulder heads equally.




Dated 17 September  2014


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