Are You Ready for Overhead Pressing?

Brooke HekiRandom, Strength TrainingLeave a Comment


Most people are mentally ready, and love the feeling of hoisting something heavy over their head. However, some are not yet physically ready.


Karen DBL KB Snatch


It’s no secret that most people don’t move as much as they should. Extended periods of time sitting in front of a computer, hunching over a smartphone screen, or watching TV can lead to negative side effects that limit their physical abilities. Some people have shoulder mobility issues that create limitations when pressing, while others have thoracic spine (T-spine) issues masked as shoulder mobility issues.


Prior to starting any heavy or high-volume overhead pressing, I suggest starting with a shoulder mobility assessment. Your best bet is to work with a qualified trainer in your area and have them assess if you’ve earned the right to press overhead. If that’s not an option, you can do a quick self-assessment.


First, stand in front of a mirror and see if you can raise both hands over your head without your elbows bending, arching your lower back, or your shoulders unpacking (raising out of the socket toward your ears – shrugging). Your arms should be by your ears or slightly behind.


If you cannot raise your arms above your head without your elbows bending, your lower back arching, or your shoulders shrugging, you are not cleared to Overhead Press yet. If you find that you have pain, you are definitely not cleared to Overhead Press and should seek the help of a Physical Therapist in your area.


If you are cleared to press with good shoulder mobility but still struggle to lock out with straight arms, then you should also try the following drills to assess your T-spine mobility.


Wall Sit w/angel wings