Shoulder Press Technique, Photo: © Copyright 2011 Men's Health UKWhen a guy says he’s going to the gym it’s usually to work abs, or chest, maybe legs. Do you hear many guys saying that they plan on working their shoulders? Sure, the shoulders aren’t a part of your body that most find essential to attractiveness but compare a guy with a ripped torso with boulder-like shoulders to one that has nice abs and unimpressive shoulders and you’ll then realise how important shoulder workouts are and understand that shoulders should be a main part of your workout regimen.

What’s the best shoulder exercise? The shrug? Row? Perhaps the lateral raise? Sure, these are all good exercises that will have their share of benefits but to build your shoulders you should be doing one move in particular: the overhead press.

Doing this move has more benefits than you’d imagine. The overhead press is a total-body move. It works the shoulders, arms, upper chest, upper back and performing the move correctly will even work your core and abs. An additional benefit to this move is the strength you will develop. Doing the overhead press will boost your upper body and lockout strength. If you’re looking to improve your bench press, the shoulder press can help with that as well as it trains the muscles needed to bench, the shoulders and triceps.

Here are some tips on how to do the overhead press correctly for maximum benefits:

Tip 1: Not sitting allowed
I know, you can press sitting, and that’s fine on occasion but if you really want to perform this move correctly you’ll do it while standing. What happens when you sit when you aren’t trying to lift weights? Yes, your posture is compromised and isn’t as spectacular as it could be. You lean a certain way, your back is arched, you slouch. Imagine adding heavy weight to your bad posture and you’re setting yourself up for trouble.

Standing will not only work on your posture but it will help you engage your core and torso, stabilizing you more so than if you were to do the move while seated.

Tip 2: Not about your legs
It seems strange but though you’re doing the press standing up, thereby using your legs for stability, you shouldn’t put too much emphasis on them. The emphasis should be in your traps and lats instead.

Tip 3: Breathe and exhale appropriately
Breathing is key to any exercise but so is breathing at the right time. Take a deep breath and hold it before doing any pressing at all. At the top of the move when you’ve successfully hoisted the weight overhead, exhale. Gradually inhale as you lower the weight down. The air you’re breathing in will help prevent injury by stabilizing your core.

Tip 4: Get your footing right
Your stance is key to this move. Keep your feet shoulder-width apart. This will give you good balance and prevent you from arching your lower back too much. For even more stability stagger your footing feet heel-to-toe.

Tip 5: Lock out
You should finish the overhead press with your arms locked out and the barbell positioned over, or slightly behind, the center of your head. This will prevent straining your shoulder joints.

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