3 UNDERRATED Exercises to Blow Up Your Overhead Press 

Don't Let ATHLEAN-X See #3!

by Alec Enkiri | 2/2/24

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Looking to build some boulder shoulders and a MONSTER overhead press to go along with it? Here are 3 UNDERRATED exercises to take your gains to the next level!

This is actually my personal favorite overhead press variation of all. It can be trained as a primary pressing movement in its own right, but it also offers immense and unique benefits as a secondary building exercise to the regular overhead press.

Lifting off of pins creates standardization and consistency. As long as you allow the bar to fully settle onto the pins before every press, which you should be doing (as opposed to bouncing the bar off the pins), then you are getting absolute consistency on every press. You are always pressing from the same exact height and always pressing from a fully dead stop position off the shoulders. Similar to pin squats, which is another favorite exercise of mine, this is going to build immense power in the bottom position of the lift, which is the mechanically weakest position of most lifts.

The big benefit of using pin lifts is that they help you build massive power and explosiveness out of the bottom position. The sticking point of most lifts is usually a little bit higher up than this (generally about one third of the way up), and we miss the lifts there not because we are weakest at that position, but rather because we could not create enough bar speed in the bottom position where we were ACTUALLY the weakest to drive through and finish the lift.

The stronger you can make this weak point at the bottom, the more bar speed you will be able to generate to start the lift, and the stronger your entire press will become. So use pin lifts often! Hit them hard, hit them in a variety of set and rep ranges, and build monstrous power out of the bottom of your press!

The AD press is a movement I picked up from Alex Leonidas, formerly known as AlphaDestiny. Essentially it is a seated overhead press performed with a slight layback on the pad, usually somewhere 70-80 degrees, as opposed to fully upright. Alex initially referred to this exercise as the "anterior deltoid press" because of the additional stretch that the pad angle allows you to get on the front delts at the bottom of the lift.

Since your torso is laid back slightly the elbows can actually get behind the torso, further stretching and engaging the anterior deltoids as compared to a typical overhead press. So I decided "AD Press" was a nice homage to the AlphaDestiny moniker that Alex has since moved on from as its a play on both anterior deltoid and AlphaDestiny.

And the exercise lives up to its name! For starters, it absolutely trashes the front delts, but the layback position also allows you to get a bit more of the UPPER CHEST involved in the overhead press as well as it basically naturally simulates the layback that you would get during a heavy standing press, but now with the benefit of additional torso stability provided by the bench pad.

Putting all that together, the AD press essentially allows you to overload your overhead press pattern. It gets more muscle groups more optimally involved in the lift and it does so with the benefit of added stability as well. So now you can really focus on building extra strength in those applicable pressing muscles with the overload effect, and you can also use less weight and take advantage of the added stability for greater hypertrophy. And as long as you keep practicing your regular standing pressing concurrently, then these gains are going to transfer over very nicely!

This movement has been vilified for as long as I can remember. I've been lifting weights since about 2008, and since I got my start way back then to this very day in 2024 the behind the neck press has been vilified as a shoulder destroyer to such an extent in fact that I myself was SCARED to do it for many, many years.

In fact, because of that fearmongering I only ever really started experimenting with it in earnest back in 2021, and it didn't take me long to figure out that most of the fears surrounding this movement are unfounded and blown out of proportion, especially for guys who are taking care of themselves and doing what it takes to build big, stronger shoulders and a commensurately impressive overhead press. 

These days, most of my clients even perform the behind the neck press in their training programs. We start very light, we focus on rep quality, and we build the weights and intensities very slowly. If the shoulders are too stiff to press well from this position then we simultaneously incorporate movements that help to open them up as well.

And almost no one has issues with the exercise! In fact, in over two years now I can't even recall a single client who I have had to have stop doing this movement when approached in this fashion. It doesn't cause pain and it doesn't destroy anyone's shoulders because we approach the exercise cautiously and sensibly, rather than vilifying it or being scared of it.

And when you take this approach the benefits of the movement are very profound, not just as shoulder strengthening exercise, but also as a shoulder BULLETPROOFING exercise. Yes, you heard that correctly! I am asserting that the movement that is supposed to be a shoulder destroyer is actually a shoulder bulletproofer when you know how to approach it properly. And the reason for this is because of the way that the behind the neck position stretches and loads the shoulders (strength through length, anyone?).

With the bar behind the head the shoulders have to learn how to open up into end range and then produce immense force from that position. As such, they end up becoming both limber AND strong, that is going to promote training longevity. The longer you can press heavy shit overhead pain free, and the more high quality work you can get in and recover from, then the bigger and stronger your shoulders are going to become in the long run and the more impressive your overhead press will become as well.

The BTN press essentially isolates the deltoids in the first 2/3 of the press. It's basically the purest overhead press of all as it takes the chest out of the movement altogether. This is great for honing in on deltoid strength and hypertrophy specifically, as well as encouraging a smooth and efficient overhead press pattern in general. So don't be scared of this movement! Just approach it sensibly, prepare your body for it accordingly, and you will be able to reap the strength and bulletproofing rewards this underrated movement has to offer. 


So there ya go guys! 3 exercises that will add some meat onto your shoulders, bulletproof those suckers, and put some SERIOUS POUNDS onto your overhead press.

I hope you found this article helpful! If you did please be sure to share the it with someone you know who is also looking to build an impressive overhead press and a pair of big meaty cannonballs to go along with it. Keep training hard and I will catch you guys next time.

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