shoulder-headsThe overhead press, whether it’s with barbells, dumbbells, or machines have often been the staple in a bodybuilding shoulder routine, and often considered the best exercise for packing on mass to the shoulders. Many bodybuilders use overhead presses as their main primary movement when it comes to wanting to develop round and thick shoulders. Though the overhead presses are a good movement, I feel that they are overrated and in my opinion not needed to be included in your shoulder routine at all.

I can hear the groans, and moans now, and you might be saying that this guy doesn’t know what he’s talking about, but hear me out, and finish this article before you judge.

If you’ve read my previous article on shoulder training, you’ll know that the shoulders are composed of three individual heads: the anterior head (front), the lateral (side) head, and the posterior (rear) head. Many people think that the overhead pressing movement targets the entire shoulder, but in actuality, it’s the anterior head of the deltoids that is mostly stimulated. If you really want to pack on the mass to your shoulders, and add width to your upper body, you really need to be targeting the lateral head of the shoulders. This is the muscle the contributes to the appearance of round and muscular shoulders.

Now to make myself clear, I am not saying that the overhead pressing movements are useless and shouldn’t be done at all. I’m just simply stating the fact that if you examine the mechanics behind this exercise, and take a look at the muscles that are involved in the movement, you’ll actually see that the overhead pressing movements aren’t offering you much more than what is already offered with compound chest exercises, and that is: stimulation of the anterior (front) deltoids. In my opinion, when you are training chest and are performing barbell bench press/incline pressing movements, that¬†already provides enough stimulation to the anterior head of the shoulders and there is no need to hit them twice a week if your workout split calls for a separate shoulder day.

Another point I would like to touch on in this article is that many guys often focus too much on the anterior head, and not enough of the lateral, or posterior heads. A typical shoulder workout routine often looks like this:

1) Barbell shoulder press – 3×10
2) Dumbbell front raises – 3×15
3) Dumbbell shoulder press – 3×8
4) Lateral raises – 3×15
5) Rear delt raies – 3×10

There is way too much emphasis on the anterior deltoids, and more often than not, posture is affected with over-development of that particular head of the shoulders.

Click here to read my article on muscle imbalances and posture.

I can tell you right now, that many guys have underdeveloped lateral heads, and posterior heads of the shoulders. How many times have you seen guys in the gym with rounded shoulders? This is something you should be aware of when training and try to avoid at all costs. But I’m getting a little off topic here. The point of this article is to not base your entire shoulder workout on overhead pressing movements. Though that is a great exercise ( I include that in my training routine), don’t make the mistake of adding the exercise into the “must do” category when training your shoulders. So to recap the article:

1) Overhead pressing significantly targets the front delts and the front delts don’t play a significant role in the appearance of wide and muscular shoulders.

2) The front delts are already receiving enough stimulation during chest compound movements already and overdeveloping the muscle can lead to muscle imbalances.

Thanks for reading this short and quick article, and see you in the next one!

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John considers himself as a fitness enthusiast who loves to do anything to keep the body in peak physical performance (much like a highly tuned machine). He mainly focuses on sports nutrition and supplement research, but is also highly knowledgeable in relation to muscle growth and fat loss. He's helped numerous people over the years achieve the body that they've always wanted and hopes his information will guide you to the goals you want.

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