In an effort to be cutting-edge, personal trainers have devised many new exercises using various equipment. These include things like Bosu ball squats and stability ball bench presses. I think nearly all of these exercises are pointless if you are trying to build strength and gain muscle size. Time and time again the old-school exercises defeat the new exercises. There are various reasons for this, which we wonít get into in this article, but if you need to be convinced then simply observe the strength levels of those who train with these exercises.!br>
The point is that while these new exercises are ineffective, they have caught-on in some circles simply because they are new. This isnít so terrible in itself, but many of these new exercises seem to have pushed the classic exercises from the gym entirely. One such classic exercise is the overhead press. Now, the overhead press has always been somewhat of an endangered animal due to the huge popularity of the bench press, but now it is nearly extinct in most gyms. So itís time for a reintroduction to this classic strength builder.
As mentioned, the bench press is by far the most popular variation of the press, likely due to its activation of the chest. However, if you have become too bench press oriented in your programming you have likely seen a stagnation in your strength and size gains. One of the best ways to get your bench press increasing again is to increase your strength in the overhead press. By focusing on the overhead press the delts, triceps, and upper back will all get stronger and bigger, which will translate to a bigger bench press. I strongly recommend that most trainees drop the bench press entirely for at least 2 months out of the year to focus on the overhead press. Do not worry about your bench press strength, it will be much better when you return to it.
There are a variety of ways that overhead presses can be done. The first obvious choice is whether to use dumbbells or a barbell. You can then choose to be seated or standing. For now we are going to focus on the standing barbell variations as these will usually give you the best results.
Standing Front Overhead Press
This is the classic version of the overhead press, with the bar in front of the body at the clavicles. The bar is pressed overhead until the arms are straight. The end position is with the bar directly over the head, even with the ears.
Standing Behind-the-Neck Overhead Press
This variation is the same as the Front Overhead Press, except that the bar starts resting on the upper back, just as you would for a high-bar back squat. From this position the bar is pressed overhead and then returned to the traps.
Standing Bradford Press
The Bradford Press is a combination of the Front and Behind-the-Neck Presses. The starting position is the same as the Front Press. From this position the bar is pressed to a position just above the head and then brought down onto the traps. From the upper back the bar is pressed as in the Behind-the-Neck Press, but only to a level slightly above the head and then brought back to the front of the body. This is one repetition.
The Push Press is a variation on the Front and Behind-the-Neck Presses, although it is typically performed with the bar in front of the head as in the Front Press. From this position the motion of the arms is the same as in the Front Press. The only difference is that the movement is initiated with a slight bend in the knees followed by an explosive extension of the knees. This brings the leg muscles into play which will allow you to use more weight.
Incorporate one or more of these overhead pressing variations in your workout program instead of the bench press. If you do I know you will be ecstatic with the strength and muscle gains you experience.
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