Earn the Right to Overhead Press Over 40
Milo Bryant is a performance coach as well as an experienced journalist. He’s also in his 50s—and his book Unstoppable After 40 gives you the roadmap to do more than merely remain active as you “mature.” Milo trains hard and recovers even better so he can do what he wants, when he wants. Get ready to use his methods to become unstoppable. This isn’t your dad’s middle age.
FORM SHOULD BE the most important thing for all lifters, but especially for guys over 40 who want to be able to maintain their physical pursuits without winding up in the PT’s office. This goes double when you’re using joints like the shoulder. Older guys should consider it a privilege to lift weights overhead.
Yes, you read that correctly. Overhead lifts are a privilege, not a right. The joints can be delicate, and the accumulated wear and tear over the years can add up. The widely used barbell military press is seen by many as the gold standard of shoulder exercises. And it is a phenomenal lift—if done correctly. But overhead strength lifts with a bar put the kind of stress on the shoulder joints that many fellas over 40 simply don’t need. Rather than pumping through reps of strict presses with poor form, it’s paramount for guys over 40 to work smart.
One particular variation, the kettlebell shoulder press, is a great way to put weight over your head. The kettlebell shoulder press can help you build boulder shoulders, makes the shoulders functionally strong, and protects the shoulder joints from radical lifting angles.
You lift overhead all the time. You do everything from putting that bottle of Tears of Llorona back on the top shelf to lifting your young children to swinging a racket or shooting a ball. Do the kettlebell shoulder press a couple of times a week, 3 sets 10 reps a set, to prep your shoulders for healthy use for years to come.
How to Do the Kettlebell Shoulder Press
●Stand upright and hold a kettlebell in your right hand in the rack position: right lat squeezed, elbow pulled toward your ribcage, forearm nearly perpendicular to the ground. Maintain tension in your wrist.
●Tighten your abs and glutes, and press the weight directly overhead. Return to the starting position. Do 10 reps. Repeat on the left side.
Best Coaching Cues for the Kettlebell Overhead Press
● Start the kettlebell from the rack position and press vertically.
● Keep the core and glute active and tight throughout the lift.
● Keep your back flat and your torso in a neutral position throughout the movement. No arching of the back.
Helpful Tip for the Kettlebell Overhead Press
Make sure you have the proper shoulder and thoracic spine mobility to correctly do this exercise. You don’t want injuries to the shoulders, or worse to the spine, from improper form.
Milo Bryant, CSCS, is a California-based trainer and an award-winning journalist.
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