How to do Standing Dumbbell Overhead Press Correctly and Safely

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INTRODUCTION

  • The Standing Dumbbell Overhead Press is a very close variation to the Overhead Press which allows for a more natural range of motion of the shoulders.  Given that the weight is not fixed by a barbell, your shoulders are free to rotate throughout the movement.  You will not be able to lift as much weight with this exercise compared to the Overhead Press.

STANDING DUMBBELL OVERHEAD PRESS FORM VIDEO

BENEFITS OF THE STANDING DUMBBELL OVERHEAD PRESS

  • Teaches stable shoulder position when reaching overhead

  • Improves mobility in the shoulder joint by allowing the shoulders to rotate freely without the restriction of a barbell

  • Encourages strength development of all three heads of the shoulder muscles, triceps, while teaching core stability

MUSCLES WORKED DURING THE STANDING DUMBBELL OVERHEAD PRESS

  • Anterior and Medial Deltoid

  • Triceps

  • Core

  • Glutes

PERFORMING THE STANDING DUMBBELL OVERHEAD PRESS

  • Grab two dumbbells and hold them in your outstretched arms alongside your body

  • From this position, you will ‘clean’ the dumbbells onto your shoulders.  Use controlled momentum to get them into the starting position

  • Set your stance just outside of shoulder width

  • Begin the movement by taking a big breath, holding it in and squeezing your glute muscles

  • Start pressing the dumbbells overhead, keeping your elbows in a straight trajectory

  • Press the weights directly overhead in as straight a line as possible, it is not necessary to touch the dumbbells at the top of the movement

 

  • It is unnecessary to rotate the dumbbells excessively

  • Reverse the movement by lowering the dumbbells back down in contact with your shoulders

 

COMMON MISTAKES

PRESSING THE WEIGHT IN FRONT OF YOUR BODY

  • Not pressing the dumbbells directly over your mid-line places your shoulder joints in a compromised position and it does not adequately train all three shoulder heads

  • Do your best to press the weight directly over your head

EXCESSIVELY ARCHING THE BACK TO INITIATE THE MOVEMENT

  • This technical issue usually occurs when the weight is too heavy

  • Arching your back places a large strain on the lumbar spine increasing the risk of injury

  • Maintain your glutes squeezed, and your abdominal muscles braced throughout the movement

NOT PERFORMING A FULL RANGE OF MOTION

  • Bring the dumbbells all the way down back to your anterior shoulders to activate all of the motor units of this large muscle group

HOW CAN I INTEGRATE THE DUMBBELL OVERHEAD PRESS INTO MY TRAINING?

Check out The WCT Best Workout Template For Busy Professionals to find a simple way to add the dumbbell overhead press and other great exercises into your routine.

STANDING DUMBBELL OVER HEAD PRESS ALTERNATIVES

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Alex Robles, MD, CPT / Brittany Robles, MD, MPH

Alex Robles, MD, CPT / Brittany Robles, MD, MPH

Alex & Brittany Robles are physicians, a NASM CPT, health & fitness experts, and founders of The White Coat Trainer, a site dedicated to improving the health and fitness of busy individuals. Their advice has been featured on KevinMD, The Doctor Weighs In, My Fitness Pal, Reader's Digest, Livestrong, and The Active Times. Learn more about them here.

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