Pressing Alternatives

Pressing movements like an overhead press, incline bench or many other pressing movements can be both difficult and painful at times, especially for overhead athletes like volleyball, swimming, and baseball players.

More specifically, pressing movements tend to be more painful for overhead athletes when they are lying supine (on their backs) with their scapulae motion restricted by a bench and/or the floor.

Exercises like push ups, KB Bottoms Up Presses and the Landmine press allows for an overhead athlete to perform pressing movements while also allowing the scapulae to move freely and typically pain free, not being restricted by a bench or the floor and allowing the scapula to be free.

Push Ups
The push up may be my favorite upper body pressing exercise, and is hands down the most underrated exercise in the world of strength and conditioning, especially in female populations. It’s actually amazing how many people, both males and females, can’t perform a proper set of five or more push up. It’s a great upper body strength movement with the added benefit of both core and shoulder strength/stability and that you don’t get in most all other pressing exercises like benching.

Kettlebell Bottoms Up Press
It allows the shoulder to find the path of least resistance. Not all shoulders work the same, especially overhead athletes.

It helps to facilitate more rotator cuff activation. The rotator cuff is a reflex driven group of muscles built for stability, not strength. KB bottoms up press demands stability. If the rotator cuff isn’t stabilizing, the KB will fall over.

It also teaches the core and the shoulder to work together as a unit. If you lose core stability, you’ll again probably lose the kettlebell.

Overhead athletes tend to have cranky shoulders with pain in certain positions. Simply flipping the KB over turns a typically painful movement into a non-painful movement. Training through pain is a terrible idea. On the other hand, not training through pain is always a good thing.

Landmine Press
The landmine press, which has been made popular by Eric Cressey, is slowly becoming one of my favorite pressing exercises for all athletes. The landmine press frees the scapula, is great for building upward rotation of the scapula, requires some core stability, and helps with improving thoracic mobility – that’s a lot of bang for your buck.

If you have shoulder pain, work with overhead athletes, are tired of bench pressing, or just want to add some variety to your pressing, give some of these movements a try!

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