I feel like shoulders don’t get as much attention as they deserve. Everyone’s around for chest day, but it seems like only tumbleweeds come to the gym to train shoulders. It’s their loss, really. Shoulder pressing is one of the best exercises you can do for overall strength and size, and it contributes to the overall shoulder to waist ratio aesthetic-look that most guys aspire to. For those who are serious about their shoulder pressing, this article is for you. Here are my top tips for gaining god-like strength on the shoulder press.
Reverse-pyramid training has been around for a while now, but it doesn’t get the attention or praise it deserves. Basically, this type of training has you starting with your heaviest set first (after warming up, of course), and then working down from there. In my opinion, this is pretty much the best way to train. You see, the main driver of muscle growth is progressive overload. That is, getting stronger over time. Reverse-pyramid training makes getting stronger almost effortless and is advocated by some of the best in the fitness industry.
You don’t see too many people in the gym using the 2.5 lb plates, which is actually a shame. Microloading involves adding these small increments each workout, which makes progression much easier. It’s much easier to add 5 pounds per workout than it is to continuously add 10. If you’re lucky enough, your gym may even have 1.25-pound plates, so you can just add 2.5 pounds per workout (one on each side of the barbell), or you can order some yourself online. It may not sound like much, but in one month that’s adding a whole 10 pounds to your shoulder press. In a year, that’s 120 pounds.
Don’t become dogmatic. Swap out the good old fashioned barbell for dumbbell presses instead. Alternating between the two can make your workouts seem less monotonous, and the alternation can help you become better at the other. The only downside to dumbbells is the inability to micro load (unless you have specially adjustable dumbbells). Give it a shot, maybe you’ll even like dumbbells more.
Squeeze That Booty
Probably the most awkward tip I give to people but squeeze your @ss when shoulder pressing. HARD. You’d be surprised how much more weight you can lift with just this simple tip. It provides a stable base and tightens up the rest of your lower body, which makes it much easier to press more weight.
In closure, I should probably mention that there are limits. I know that sounds very un-motivating and pessimistic, but if we didn’t have strength limits, people would be walking around shoulder pressing cars. Don’t beat yourself up for not progressing every week, and even if you stall eventually. At some point, maintenance is the best option. That doesn’t mean don’t push yourself. Push yourself until it’s impossible to progress any further (and then prove yourself wrong).
Shoulder press regularly and take these tips to heart, and your shoulders will transform into boulders in no time. Remember: Reverse-pyramid training, micro load, alternate between barbells and dumbbells, squeeze your booty, and push yourself as far as you possibly can. As always, stay strong.