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  • Writer's picturejaimiecunningham

Overhead presses as a core exercise

This may come as a surprise, but one of my favorite core exercises is overhead strict presses. Seems kinda strange, right? Most people think of the overhead press as a shoulder exercise (and it is!), but it's also a great core exercise. Let me explain...

When performing an overhead strict press, you'll often see people arch their low back and lean back. This is especially common with heavy weights and as the lifter fatigues. The reason for this is that their body is trying to engage their pecs, which are a large and strong muscle group, to assist with the lift. By arching the low back and leaning back, the angle of the trunk shifts to allow greater engagement of the pecs.

Sometimes this allows the lifter to lift more weight, but it also results in...

- Increased strain on the low back

- Decreased stability (notice how much I sway in the video below)

- Not isolating the intended muscle (shoulders / delts)

Instead, I always recommend that athletes perform a strong core brace during their overhead presses. This will decrease strain on their low back, improve their stability, better target the intended muscles, AND give them a great core workout. Especially at heavier weights, the athlete's core will have to work hard to maintain a neutral spine and fight the body's urge to arch the back. Therefore, when performed in this way, the overhead press becomes an excellent way to build core stability and strength.

If you missed my post on how to brace your core correctly, you can check that out here.

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