A happy end of the week to everyone (almost there, YES). For those that may not have noticed, I'm making a concerted effort to get some new content up on a more regular basis for you all to enjoy. Today is likely to speak to every one of us, so sit back and have at it.
It happens to everyone, myself included, that creaky cranky shoulder that absolutely bugs the daylights out of you. For most people, when that happens, your traditional pressing exercises; bench press and military (overhead) press are off the table for the time being. That doesn’t mean that we throw out the movement pattern entirely, rarely a good idea. These are 6 of my upper body pressing go-to’s when clients’ shoulders aren’t cooperating with them.
DB Bench Press
Using Dumbbells instead of a bar provides your shoulders that wiggle room to press from a position that’s more friendly. As no two hips are created the same (yes that means both your own hips) no two shoulders are created the same either, so if your shoulder is getting fussy, forcing it to be locked down on a straight bar is probably not a bright idea.
Football Bar (aka Swiss Bar) Bench Press
Similar to the dumbbell bench, assuming you have access to one of these bars, the different handle angles let you more comfortably position your hands to press without pain. I do find there tends to be a challenge with stabilizing the bar front to back, but that may be a good thing, forcing you to drop the weight and press with good technique.
DB Floor Press
Again, going back to the dumbbell bench, letting your shoulder move independent of one another is helpful. Add on the fact that the floor is going to limit your range of motion (hello there’s a floor stopping it) so if your shoulder is being caused pain at the bottom of your presses, or anywhere near, this takes that possibility right out of the equation.
As mentioned, giving your shoulder a little extra room to breathe and move when they’re giving you trouble is huge. A landmine press gives you that extra room to move and allows you to get some weight overhead by leaning in a bit at the finish. You can do these standing, 1/2 kneeling or tall kneeling. I prefer a stagger stance when standing, myself. Keeps me from cranking through my back to get that extra bit of overhead movement.
If you’re lucky enough to have access to one of these babies, you’ve hit the jackpot and should count your blessings. In any case, it provides much of the same benefit (and relief) as a landmine press, except you get both arms involved now. If you have a way to elevate it to start, it makes getting it in position just a tad easier. The multiple grip options obviously makes things easier on those days when the shoulder is just in no mood.
Bottoms Up KB 1-Arm Press
Bottoms up variations force your shoulder to stabilize in areas that might not be so stable, but should be, see rotator cuff. This variation is definitely going to make you back off the weight and concentrate on good form, I know such a tough life. I prefer the 1/2 kneeling version, but obviously there are others. Aim for your elbow to be in line with your ear when you get overhead.
Next time you go to do your normal pressing movements and your shoulder just doesn’t want to seem to calm down, maybe try one of these guys instead. Be on the lookout for No Pain Training Groups in late March. Go out there, and get after it (even if you have a bit of shoulder pain).
Jarrod Dyke, CSCS