A Better Shoulder Warm Up To Maximise Overhead Strength


The large majority of you reading this will know that you should warm up prior to exercise to increase flexibility, improve performance and reduce the chances of becoming injured.

The problem with the term ‘warming up’ is that it emphasises the heating up of the body and muscles prior to exercise. What it fails to do is capture what is needed prior to exercise to optimally prepare your body to perform at it’s highest level whilst limiting the chances of you experiencing pain and injury. I prefer to use the term Movement Preparation.

EXOS (a leading American based human performance company) describe effective movement preparation as:

“An integrated approach to prepare the athlete physically and mentally for the demands of training and competition through a progressive and specific preparation period.”

From experience with athletes and clients, I have found movement preparation integrating pillar (hips, core, shoulders) activation, dynamic stretching, exercise specific movement integration and neural activation is an effective system to optimally prepare somebody for exercise.

If you look at how most people prepare for pressing overhead they will generally hold some static stretches followed by some cable external/internal rotation exercises.

If you break this warm up down and consider how it prepares somebody to press overhead, does it…

  • Activate the hips, core and shoulders (pillar) as one functional unit?
  • Consist of dynamic stretches and movements resembling the exercise you are about to complete (ie. overhead press)?
  • Stimulate your nervous system?

My answer would be NO. I am not suggesting this warm up will have a negative effect, I am stating that I believe there is a more effective system to get the most out of your overhead pressing.

Here are some exercises that would form a more effective movement preparation prior to pressing overhead.

Plank Clock Reaches

Banded Face Pull to Overhead Press

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