Should You Be Overhead Pressing?


A staple in most weight training programs is the overhead press because it's an excellent exercise. However, if your body doesn't have adequate mobility, you could be doing more harm than good. Try this simple assessment to see if you qualify for lifting heavy things over your head. If you don't it's not the end of the world. You may just need to get some manual therapy or start doing some daily mobility drills. In the meantime, we show you how the Landmine Press is a great alternative until you pass the test. 

Wall Arm Slide Assessment

The wall arm slide test is a staple at our facility. We use it in all of our assessments to evaluate thoracic extension, core control and to qualify our clients for overhead pressing.

If you lack thoracic extension and you load the shoulders, it can result in poor shoulder mechanics and increase your risk of injury to the shoulder, lower back and neck.

As seen in the video, to pass the test all points of contact (head, shoulders, lower back, elbows and hands) on the wall must be maintained as you slide your elbows up.

If you don’t pass the test, it is an absolute must to improve your thoracic extension and control of your spine to achieve full range of motion before you do any overhead exercise. See below for an alternative pressing option to strengthen your upper body if you are limited in your mobility. 

Half-Kneeling Landmine Press

The half-kneeling landmine press is a fantastic exercise for those who didn’t pass the wall arm slide test. We use it at our facility as a substitute to overhead pressing exercises for those who lack thoracic extension, range of motion of the shoulder and/or core control. 

Besides being a great alternative to overhead movements, the half-kneeling landmine press is a great exercise for just about anyone as it:

-Trains neutral spine (this include a neutral neck)

-Encourages core stability

-Trains scapular upward rotation

-Teaches dynamic stability of the shoulder

-Teaches the perfect 90/90 position of half-kneeling

Roller Wallslide

The roller wall slide is a great complimentary corrective exercise to the landmine press. It’s a drill that can reinforce the upward rotation of your scapulae while continuing to educate you on your core control. These are necessary skills to master before even thinking about pressing weight over your head. It’s fantastic for:

-Training neutral spine (including the neck) and core stability 

-Encouraging scapular protraction and upward rotation

-Serratus anterior activation

-Proper function of the thoracic spine and limbs

-Scapular stability during overhead movements