If you were to ask, what is the best exercise I can do to bust through training plateaus, the answer would immediately be the overhead press. The overhead press will help 99 percent of the weight training population make gains.
No other exercise packs muscle mass and strength on to the shoulders and triceps as effectively. Here are five reasons to train the overhead press:
#1: Increase Bench Press Totals
Training the overhead press is a great way to strengthen the deltoid and pectoralis muscles that are prime movers in the bench press. Ed Coan, multiple time World Powerlifting Champion, once said that improving his strength in the overhead-press-behind-neck was the critical factor in breaking through a long-term plateau in bench press strength.
#2: Boost Chin-Up Performance
If you’re having trouble increasing the number of chin-ups you can do, overhead presses are the answer. You will get more powerful when chinning by adding this exercise to your routine.
Why? If your deltoids and triceps are weak, it impairs your upper body when pulling from a hanging position.
#3: Train Your Core
The overhead press is a great bang for your buck exercise that works many muscles other than the deltoids. You can't press heavy loads without a rock solid six-pack and obliques. The overhead press is truly functional core work.
#4: Reveal Your Weaknesses
Overhead pressing gives you a powerful diagnostic tool to identify weak links in the body. For example, the ratio of the weight lifted in the seated dumbbell press to that in the bench press should represent 29 percent of the close-grip bench press measure. In other words, if you are able to close-grip bench press about 220 pounds for a single, you should be using a pair of 65 pound weights for 8 reps in the seated dumbbell press.
#5: Reveal Muscle Imbalances
Motor patterns when pressing over your head are a great diagnostic tool for determining optimal muscle length and flexibility in the shoulder girdle. For example, if you use a pair of dumbbells held with a neutral grip and one dumbbell is too far forward, it could be tightness in one of the subscapularis muscles. You can overcome this with stretching and prehab training that we teach in our PICP courses.