Home / Workout / Shoulder / Why Is the Shoulder Press So Hard?

Why Is the Shoulder Press So Hard?

I personally like the shoulder press a lot but I’ve seen many guys in the gym struggle with it. So, why is the shoulder press so hard for some people? 

Poor core strength, muscle strength imbalances, incorrect techniques, inefficient barbell path, and tired shoulder muscles can make should press challenging. 

But all these problems can be solved with the right guidance, and we’ll provide you with just that.

Factors Contributing to Shoulder Press Difficulty

Here, you’ll learn about the reasons why you’re finding shoulder press so hard.

Insufficient Shoulder Joint Stability and Mobility

Poor mobility in shoulder joints can cause difficulties in the shoulder press. To perform the shoulder presses properly, you need to have a good range of motion in your shoulder joint. 

So, unless they are flexible, you will face issues. But it can be fixed with exercises like face pulls or band pull-apart. These exercises can help your posterior shoulder muscles become more mobile. 

Plus, stretches like sleeper stretch, and doorway stretch can help your muscles become more flexible over time.

Poor Core Stability

Without good core stability, there’s gonna be some arching of the lower back when you try the shoulder press. A little bit of arching is alright. 

But if you overdo it and go past your natural limit, you’ll suffer from back pain and shoulder press will seem like an uphill task for you. 

I’d like to stress again that arching is okay, as long as doesn’t go beyond the natural limit. It even helps the chest muscles to facilitate the shoulder press. Doing planks regularly will improve your core stability. 

Incorrect Techniques

Incorrect techniques can make your shoulder press weak. And if you’re using improper techniques as well, then things will certainly go wrong. 

It will slow down your progress and can even cause injuries. Common incorrect techniques you should avoid are bending wrists too much, incorrect grip width, elbows flaring excessively, and arching the back too much.

Muscle Strength Imbalances

A lot of muscle groups need to work together to do the shoulder press properly. But if there’s an imbalance in the muscle groups of the core, shoulders, and back, you’ll have problems doing the exercise. 

That’s why you need to do exercises that target these muscles and make them strong.

  • You can do exercise like Resistance band pull-apart, Lat pulldown, and Back extension to strengthen your back muscles.
  • You can do Abdominal crunch, bridge, and modified plank to improve the strength of core muscles.
  • You can do an internal and external rotation with a resistance band, plank, wall walks to make the shoulder muscles stronger.

Inability to Control the Shoulder Blades

During shoulder press, it’s important for your should blades to rotate up. Only then your arms will have enough space to do their thing without bumping into other parts. 

Otherwise, you won’t be able to do the shoulder press correctly. 

The shoulder blade’s rotation depends on muscles like the upper and lower trapezius. If they’re not strong enough, the should blade won’t be able to rotate. That means you have to work on strengthening them as well.

Barbell Going Forward 

Sometimes, when you’re doing the upper press, the barbell goes forward, instead of going upwards. That will demand more strength from you and make the exercise not very effective. 

It mainly happens when you start from the wrong position, or your body isn’t moving in the correct manner. 

This can happen also because of your lack of strength in your shoulder muscles. Nevertheless, to avoid this problem, make sure you start from the right position and hopefully, it will no longer be an issue.

Overusing the Shoulder Muscles

Our body has its limit. It’s okay to push it continuously to improve our ability, but sometimes you run the risk of overusing it. So, if you’re finding it difficult to do shoulder pressing, maybe the shoulder muscles are sore from being overused. 

In that case, you need to give your body some rest and maintain regular breaks between workouts. 

How to Overcome Challenges Through Practice?

Enough about the reasons why shoulder press is so hard to progress, let’s learn about the solutions now. 

Start with Proper Warm Up

Warming up before the should press is important for doing the exercise efficiently. You need to spend a little bit of time preparing your back muscles, rotator cuff, and shoulder musculature. 

This will help you produce force and stabilize the shoulder joint which is important for doing the press successfully.

Get a Good Grip and Keep Wrists Straight

You need to have a good firm grip on the barbells. When you squeeze it, it triggers the back muscles, forearms, and biceps into action. And this gives you the strength to the lifting. 

But the wrists need to be kept straight as it helps remain the bar on a comfortable spot on your shoulder. Some people let their wrists bend backward, which can be a mistake. So, keep the wrists straight.

Maintain Form and Focus on Techniques

Make sure you don’t do basic mistakes in techniques. That will help you complete the exercise without any serious problems.

Also, maintain form all the time and don’t your back arch too much.

Progress Gradually

Don’t lift too much weight at once. Increasing the weight gradually will help you get better results over time. So, if you’re struggling with barbell, increase dumbbell shoulder press. That will help you manage the weight load without making much changes to the exercise.

Get Professional Help

If you’re still finding it difficult, ask for a trainer’s help. His experience will set you on the right path.

What Are Some Tips to Improve Shoulder Press Strength?

To enhance shoulder press strength and overcome shoulder press weakness explained, start with proper posture. Maintain a neutral spine, engage core muscles, and avoid hunching or arching the back. Focus on a controlled movement, emphasizing the full range of motion. Gradually increase weights, ensuring a challenging but manageable load. Additionally, incorporating exercises that target supporting muscles, such as lateral raises and rotator cuff exercises, can further strengthen shoulder press performance. Regular rest and recovery are vital to prevent overuse injuries.

Injury Prevention and Rehabilitation During the Exercise

Here are some tips to prevent injuries during the exercise.

Start with Lighter Weights

One of the biggest reasons behind pain during shoulder press is starting with too much weight. It can put undue pressure on your muscles and can cause pain.

So, start with light weight, and understand your limit. 

Avoid Overtraining

Excessive overtraining will hinder you instead of helping you. As it will make you tired and your muscles sores making the exercise less effective. 

So, make sure you’re not overdoing the shoulder press and instead focus on getting the best results.

Rotator Cuff Exercises

If the rotator cuff, the muscles, and tendons connecting the upper arm bone to the shoulder socket, isn’t strong enough, you can suffer shoulder impingement during the shoulder press. 

Exercises like side-lying external rotation and wall angel can strengthen the rotator muscles and prevent shoulder impingement

Rest and Recovery

Give enough time between your workout sessions to avoid injury. Also if you’re injured take off time according to the doctor’s instructions to avoid further aggravating the injury.


Even dedicated lifters can struggle with the shoulder press if their technique is wrong. So, make sure the technique is right and avoid the mistakes we’ve talked about today here. 

Also, take note of the tips we’ve given you and you should be easily doing the shoulder press in a couple of days.

Ben profile picture

About Ben Adler

I'm Ben, a passionate fitness enthusiast on a mission to help you achieve your fitness goals. With a love for lifting and building a well-rounded physique, I founded Swole Class to provide beginners with the guidance and knowledge they need to navigate the gym and embrace a healthier lifestyle. Join me on this journey as we unlock our potential and inspire greatness together. Learn more about me

Leave a Comment