How To Build Overhead Stability

If you’ve been working on your overhead strength but still feeling unstable, there are a few movements that you must include in your training.

A great place to start is adding isolation exercises to your warm up. Isolating one particular muscle or group of muscles allows you to focus on the movement pattern, prepping you for the larger compound movements. Wall slides is one exercise that will get your scaps gliding in a pattern that will then be used for overhead pressing. Complete 3 sets of 5 to 8 of these in your warm up. You can add a resistance band around the wrists to progress this movement.

Following wall slides, the bottoms up kettle bell press teaches proper alignment and core strength, which you can then engage in the bulk of your session. Do 3 sets of 5 with a light kettle bell to start. Add more reps or a heavier kettle bell as you begin to feel more confident.

When working on building stability, tempo is the way to go. Adding tempo to the strict press can improve your movement quality as you develop awareness and body control. More tempo means plenty of time under tension for the muscles, with less overall stress on the central nervous system This helps develop strength alongside stability. You may start with 4 to 5 sets of 6 to 8 reps at a tempo of 3121. This means 3 seconds down, 1 second at the bottom (bar on the shoulders), 2 seconds to press the bar overhead and then 1 second holding overhead before lowing again.

To continue working towards stability, both banded face pulls and the isometric press hold can be used as accessories. Banded face pulls will work your upper back muscles including your rear deltoids which are often missed and become weak, leading to instability overhead. These can be done in sets of 3 for 12 to 15 reps to encourage muscle hypertrophy. The isometric press hold can improve your ability to recruit motor units, which can increase strength and power production. Start with 3 sets of 30 sec holds with just the bar.

Remember, you are not limited by the formula that I have detailed! It’s important to experiment and find what works for you. I look forward to hearing how your overhead stability improves with these movements.

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