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Why Is My Shoulder Press So Weak?

Doing a shoulder press isn’t all about brute strength, and there are lots of other factors involved too. A lot of people don’t realize this and that’s why they often ask, why is my shoulder press weak? 

Poor form, lack of strength, terrible techniques, not tightening glutes—any of these things can be the culprit behind your overhead press being weak.

We’ll discuss these reasons in detail and also tell you how to tackle them properly.

Common Reasons Why Your Overhead Press Is So Weak

The following are the potential reasons for your weak and inefficient shoulder press.

Poor Form and Technique

Poor form and technique during overhead exercises are common reasons for weak shoulder press. What people do wrongly is use momentum to press the weight up, which makes the shoulder press exercise so hard for them.

You need to use your shoulder muscles mainly to push the weight up gradually. If it feels too hard to do, you need to drop some weight. Keep dropping weights until you can comfortably lift the barbell up without losing the correct form.

Rotator Cuff Issues

Issues with the rotator cuff can restrict your shoulder movement and result in a weak overhead press. 

A group of shoulder muscles and tendons are together called the rotator cuff. Its job is to keep the shoulder joint steady and assist in moving your arms easily. 

But if the rotator cuff can’t work at full capacity, you’ll find weight lifting uncomfortable and difficult to finish. That’s why expert weight lifters take great caution to keep rotator cuff injury-free.

If you experience restrictions in shoulder movement and feel you have injured the rotator cuff, see a doctor, as otherwise, the injury can get worse and keep you out of action for far longer.

Weak Lower Body and Core

A strong base and core are important for overhead exercise. But often, we direct all our focus on the upper parts of the body and neglect the lower portion (your core, legs, and glutes). 

The lower portion of the body should be engaged and solid for you to pull off a strong overhead press.

Barbell Pushing Forward

The shortest and the most effective bar path is straight up from your chest to above your head.  

But many people move the bar forward before lifting it up. It adds unnecessary horizontal distance, which can make even the easiest weights hard to lift up. 

Now, why does this happen? 

There can be a lot of reasons. Maybe you are not practicing enough, or you have weak muscles, or your mobility isn’t good enough. 

Whatever the reason is, you need to work on it to stop pushing the bar forward while lifting it up. Otherwise, the lockout won’t be strong enough, making your efforts go to waste.

Oversized Weights

You will find it very tough to maintain your form when using oversized weights for shoulder press/overhead press. It will put a strain on your body, increase the risk of injury, and make your shoulder press weak. 

So, try to do shoulder press slowly and steadily with proper weight.

Not Clenching the Glutes

Glutes, meaning the large buttock muscles, need to be tightened while doing the shoulder press. 

It helps you remain balanced while doing the exercise and also contributes to giving you the strength to execute the lift-up. So, they’re like the pillars for the overhead exercise. If you don’t clench the glutes, then it can cause a weak press.

Solutions to Strengthen Weak Shoulder Presses

Since the potential causes are out of the way, time to focus on what you need to do to fix the issue −

Practice Proper Form and Techniques

You won’t be able to achieve the proper form and techniques in one day. You’ll need to practice every day to achieve the correct form.

Initially, you’ll struggle for sure. But don’t give up, and start with lower weights. 

Gradually increase the weight, but if you feel your form is being compromised due to the weight, drop the additional weight.

Increase Caloric and Protein Intake

Food gives you the strength to perform the exercises. Consulting with a diet expert may give you an idea about how many calories you need. Supplement the diet with protein intake to build the muscles.

Use the Right Weight

While pushing your limit, don’t go overboard and lift up more than you can handle. That won’t help you and most probably injure you as well. Take it slow and increase barbell weight over time.

Strengthen Your Core

A strong core will help you do effective overhead presses. So, try to build strength with various exercises. If you’re a beginner, try crunch, bridge, and bird dog.

Once you have become a bit stronger, you can try intermediate moves such as plank, bird dog with elbow to knee, and warrior crunch.

After learning all these exercises, challenge yourself with advanced moves such as mountain climber and side plank with rotation.

Improve Mobility

Put some effort into improving your mobility to make your shoulder press better. Exercises like walking hip openers and shoulder pass-throughs allow you to be more flexible with your body. 

Can Weak Shoulder Press Be Caused by Feeling Bench Press in My Shoulders?

While bench pressing, feeling shoulder pain can be a reason for weak shoulder press. Pushing heavy weights during bench press can strain the shoulder joints, leading to discomfort. Ensuring correct form, warm-ups, and gradually increasing weight can help alleviate the reason for shoulder pain while bench pressing.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Don’t make these common mistakes, as they will hamper your effectiveness.

Flaring Elbows

While pushing the barbell overhead, the elbows should remain close to the sides. It’s important for keeping tension in the muscles and completing the lift-up move successfully. 

But if the elbows are flaring to the side during the lift, the required tension in the muscles won’t be there. 

Waiting on Chest for Too Long

Letting the weight rest on your chest for too long will restrict your strength and make your shoulder press weak. The best thing to do is wait there for a second or two and then proceed with the lift-up. 

That way, you won’t lose the momentum. But if you wait for too long, it makes the lifting process a lot harder and takes a huge amount of strength. 

Another mistake would be bouncing the weight off the chest. So, lift it slowly and gradually, wait for a second on the chest, and then finish the move.

Key Takeaways

Weak shoulder presses can be frustrating as you put in a lot of effort for a poor outcome. 

But it can be changed easily and sometimes with minor tweaks. So, take lessons from the article, find your issue behind the lack of effectiveness of the overhead press, and work on it.

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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

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