The Overhead press until 1972 was actively recognized as one of the main activities in Weightlifting competitions. Professional bodybuilders and weightlifters were seen competitively arching their backs to press heavier weights overhead. This tendency made scoring of athletes a difficult task for the presiding judges which resulted in the Overhead press being completely removed from competitions altogether.
In the fitness industry today, some fitness enthusiasts and pro weight lifters in their training routines have found the bench press to be a more suitable exercise rather than the Overhead press. However there are many who still believe in the Overhead press to be a more effective exercise in strength training to provide more upper body strength in the individual allowing the Overhead press to be recognized as one of the main exercises within the StrongLifts 5X5 training workout.
The Overhead press traditionally is observed as the press of the bar from the front of the shoulders moving it overhead until both elbows become locked. The knees and hips should be maintained in a locked position throughout the entire movement, if not the individual will find themselves doing the Push Press exercise. As such beginners are often recommended to have a professional trainer or experienced weightlifter on spot to assist them in achieving the correct technique.
Beginners who are unable to press the bar overhead are recommended to lower the barbell on the chest and placing it on the floor. Unlike the Bench press exercise the individual is never subjected to the possibility of injury by finding themselves stuck under the barbell.
As with any other exercise requiring the use of a barbell individuals will occasionally find themselves having a difficult time maintaining a proper balance while performing the Overhead press. Trainers have as a result scheduled beginners in their strength training to initially focus on achieving the proper technique for the Overhead press by using a weightless barbell and over time adding weights respectively allowing the individual to improve.
Although bodybuilders and professional weightlifters have been able to traditionally lift much heavier weights with the Bench press, the Overhead press has several additional benefits to the Bench press such as, providing the individual with a full body workout by targeting the trunk and leg muscles as the weight is placed on the shoulders, while targeting the arms and upper-chest muscles as the weighted barbell is pressed overhead.
The Overhead press has been used to stimulate growth within the Abdominal muscles additionally with the upper and lower back muscles as these targeted muscle tissues are used to stabilize the weight during the exercise. The upper-chest triceps and shoulders are used to press the weight overhead thus building the proper physique of the professional bodybuilder.
Many fitness enthusiasts and professional trainer have found that by alternatively training using the Bench press with the Overhead press they have been able to minimize the possibility of injury to the exerciser which often occurs through poorly trained muscle groups.
Maintaining the proper technique for the Overhead press is key to gaining a complete and effective workout and should be observed as the individual should begin the exercise standing positioning both feet at shoulder-width apart to effect a good balance. The barbell should be firmly gripped with both hands close to the wrist at the base of the palm and at shoulder-width apart ensuring the hands are never allowed to touch the shoulders.
The individual should inhale deeply as the weight is raised positioning the elbows in front of the barbell while looking to either side ensuring the upper-arms are not parallel with the ground.
The bar should be pressed overhead in a straight line moving the torso and quickly tilting the head backward during the press. The torso should be shifted forward when the bar reaches to the height of the forehead as the individual continues to press the weight overhead. With the weight overhead, the chin should be in a position of almost touching the chest. At this point the individual should squeeze the back, shoulders and traps while locking both elbows completing the overhead press.
Some of the popular overhead press exercises used by many of the professional bodybuilders and weight lifters in the fitness industry today for complete upper-body strength include, the Military Press, the Dumbbell overhead press, the Push Press and the Jerk.