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How To Overhead Press (Military Press) Without Pain

Updated: May 22

The Overhead Press or commonly called Military Press, is a fantastic compound exercise to builder upper body pressing strength, but unfortunately does a lot of damage to people who lack the mobility and technique required to perform it well. You'll get some great technique points in the video above and the mobility exercises are outlined more in depth below.

Firstly, what is mobility and what happens if you have too much or too little?

Put simply, it's your ability to move your joints through their full range of motion (ROM). If you lack mobility it means you have to mobility work before you do exercises that require a greater degree of motion (overhead press) or your body will be working against itself to try to perform the task you're asking of it, if that is a strength based task, you'll be working against yourself. If you have too much mobility, exercises that require a great degree of stability through movement will tend to cause issues like muscle tightness (not the good kind), joint irritation/inflammation or fascial tension as examples. In this situation the individual needs better motor control (learning how to move better) than more than they need more mobility.

If you struggle with shoulder pain while working out your upper body the following mobility exercises will help you massively!

How do I know if I have good or bad mobility?

Here's the test to see where you're at --->

Stand with your back to a wall, keep your arms straight and see if you can touch the wall above your head without bending your elbows or arching your back off the wall to do so. See the full explanation in the video above.

✅ If you can touch the wall, then it's about technique which I cover in the top video.

If you can't reach the wall you need to work on your mobility prior to pressing. Read on.

Some simple areas we can look to change the state of to improve your mobility are the Thoracic, the Latissimus Dorsi, the Pectorals and the Upper Trapezius.

How to release the Upper Trapezius:

Either use the end of a barbell on top of your shoulder or a ball against the wall or laying on the floor. Finding the right spot is sometimes tricky but I describe it as the top corner of your scapula, where people dig their thumbs in when you get a shoulder massage. We don't want it to be too painful that you can't move your arm but if you have tension there you can expect it to be quite painful to start with. That is normal. But should also dissipate after a few minutes of working on the muscle.

How to release the Pectorals:

Pectoralis Major and Minor trigger point release for tight Pecs

You'll need a ball and a wall or rig. Put the ball in the middle of your pec and move your arm forward and backwards or sideways if you're against a wall. Be gentle to start with it can be quite tender. It may take a couple of minutes for the tension or pain to dissipate. Start gently and don't forget to breathe. Watch the video for a full explanation of how to release your Pec Major and Minor.

How to release the Latissimus Dorsi:

Releasing the Lats is easiest with a roller if you have one. If you don't have one you can use any sort of ball like a soccer or football or even a rolled up towel to start with. Lay on the ground with the roller under your rib cage. Your lat is to the side of your ribcage. Be sure not to go to high up under your armpit. Find a spot that has some tension then use deep and long breaths to help it relax.

After you've done the mobility work re-test your overhead reach against the wall. It should have improved. Then practice applying the technique principles discussed in the first video with your Overhead Press.

Thanks for reading.

Yours in strength


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If you're like me you've tried multiple methods for fixing your shoulder issues/pain but may not yet have found a solution for restoring function and building long term resilience in your shoulders. Learn how to fix your own shoulder issues and be coached by me along the journey with the 3 Phase Bulletproof Shoulder Program!


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