How exactly can you increase your shoulder strength? Veteran CrossFit Games athlete Kristi Eramo O’Connell breaks down the 5 best shoulder pressing exercises for skill and strength.
Increasing your shoulder strength through pressing can benefit countless exercises, including throwing movements such as wall balls, barbell presses like the jerk, or bodyweight skills such as handstand push-ups.
5 Best Shoulder Pressing Exercises
- Dead Stop Press
- Push Press
- Bradford Press
- Tape Press
- Triceps Kickback
1 – Dead Stop Press
Start with the bar around eye level and focus on the full lockout and extension of the triceps, explains Eramo O’Connell. This is where the athlete has identified she struggles, being unable to finish a barbell push rep after getting it off her shoulders.
This exercise focuses on the finish position of the rep.
- Perform 5 sets of 6 at a moderately challenging weight.
- When you’re done, go into a max set by decreasing the weight by 5-10% and perform as many reps as you can.
2 – Push Press
This exercise allows you to overload the shoulders and get used to heavier weights through the aid of momentum and the use of your legs.
There is a direct correlation between nailing push presses and increasing numbers in the strict press.
Read more: Push Press: How to Develop Explosive Strength and Power
3 – Bradford Press
You can get a very high number of reps and time under tension with the Bradford Press, making it one of the best shoulder pressing exercises for strength.
You’ll work both the front and the back of your shoulders.
This exercise should be performed at a lighter weight and you shouldn’t extend your arms all the way up, instead simply focus on clearing the head.
4 – Tape Press
Strengthening your triceps will not only improve your overall pressing but also help your lockout.
One exercise to do this is the Tape Press, which starts with you laying flat on the ground with two dumbbells in the extended position, heads touching.
Keep the heads touching the entire time as you lower the dumbbells down to your chest. Touch all heads at the bottom of the movement and then press back up.
5 – Triceps Kickbacks
Because the very last portion of a press is all triceps strength, it’s important to also work on this muscle to improve your shoulder pressing.
Triceps kickbacks are a great exercise to achieve this.
- Aim to hit 12-15 reps with a 1 second rest at the top of the exercise.
Add these science-backed oblique exercises to your training to build a well-rounded core or learn how to improve your pull-ups.
- teen athlete push press: Photo courtesy of CrossFit Inc.