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Want to tone up your arms? Get rid of wobbly bingo wings with a one-arm shoulder press.
Feet: You should always do any overhead pressing work barefoot or with footwear that is level from the toe to heel, like a Chuck Taylor. Pressing overhead with runners creates dramatic, unnecessary stress on the lower back due to the pelvis tilting forward.
Legs and glutes: These should be locked and tight. Somewhere along the line people recommended that you should press with a slight knee bend, which I’m guessing they thought is easier on the joints. It’s not; your joints can take a lot of weight when they are locked and tight. If you bend you will only leak tension, which will result in a weaker lift.
Abs: They should be tight. As Pavel (the Russian kettlebell guru) states: “Breathe behind the shield”. This means you need to be able to keep your abs tight while still being able to breathe.
Start with the dumbbell or kettlebell close to you, with your elbow tucked into you side and your palm facing your opposite shoulder. This is more known as an Arnold press (see picture).
I’ve never liked the feel of the traditional press with your arm stating out to the side of your body. I always feel vulnerable and weaker in this position.
1. Before you start to press, take a breath into your stomach, tense up, then begin to press the weight straight above your head. Lock your arm out at the top with your bicep next to your ear and your palm facing away from you. Forcefully hiss out your air through pursed lips.
2. To come down, pretend you’re doing a one-arm chin-up by actively pulling your elbow back down to your side. As you do this, aggressively inhale back into your stomach through your nose. Repeat.
One of two common mistakes I see people making when it comes to the one-arm shoulder press, or any overhead work, is that they press the weight out to the front rather than straight above their head. This will only lead to an overworked anterior deltoid – the front of your shoulder – which will cause a muscle imbalance that will lead to injury.
Once you fix mistake number one, it usually creates mistake number two. And that is, when pressing straight above the head, many people compensate by leaning back, which again will lead to injury. This usually occurs due to the person having extremely tight pecs, anterior deltoids, abs, hip flexors and lats from sitting in a chair all day and living a sedentary lifestyle – to avoid injury, you should avoid overhead work until you can demonstrate the ability to raise your arm above your head without compensating.
- Grant Lofthouse is a Melbourne-based PT and the founder of Cardio Haters Gym and cardiohaters.com, a site for fitness enthusiasts with an aversion to cardio.