4 Ways to Take Sit Ups to the Next Level

September 30, 2019 by  
Filed under All Round Fitness, Ideas to Help You Train

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woman in sit up position

Love them or hate them, sit ups are your friend. The traditional sit up is a simple, standard movement for your fitness regimen you can rely on to strengthen your core. Are you taking this exercise for granted? Let us remind you of how to bring proper sit ups into your workout so you can reap the benefits they bring.


Benefits of a Strong Core

Your core is an integral part of your body for developing your fitness. Since your core connects your lower body and upper body, it gets activated at every workout and for most of the exercises you do. Your core muscles support you to do the other movements, making sit ups a workout necessity. If your core muscles are weak or inflexible, it will impair your ability to function at maximum levels when performing the exercises in your workout.

Properly building your core will give you more power and alignment in your movements, enhancing your stability and balance. Think about it, how many movements call for you to tense your abs as you do them? It shows up in everyday actions too, allowing you to do chores and activities more easily and efficiently.

Maintaining a Healthy Back

Lower back pain is a common concern for active people. Did you know having core strength will help eliminate back pain? Performing core stabilization exercises acts as an effective form of physical therapy at reducing lower back pain as your lower back will bear less burden having the adequate workload balanced with your core muscles. This makes sense, doesn't it?

From a physiological perspective, your transverse abdominis hooks around the spine and serves to stabilize the body’s entire midsection, front and back. This is yet another reason you want to stay mindful of the role a strong core plays in your physical well-being. Whenever you're feeling pain in our body, it’s a sign that something is out of balance. Sometimes this thrown-off balance that's signaled by your lower back pain, is telling you your core isn’t doing the substantial amount of work it should be.

How to Do a Proper Sit Up

Since we’ve established the importance of sit ups in your workout, let’s make sure you perform them correctly. It's a familiar position, but you don't want to get lax with your form. Start with lying on your back on the ground, bend your knees and keep your feet flat on the ground. You want your knees to be bent at a 90-degree angle.

Bend our elbows so they’re pointing out at your sides. A helpful tip here is to cup or touch the back of your ears with your fingertips. When you do this, rather than placing your hands on the back of your head, you'll prevent pulling yourself up by your neck as you do the movement. Another option would be to cross your arms over your chest to keep them inactive during the movement.

Your aim is to lift your torso up and toward your thighs. You want to get as close as possible to your thighs while maintaining a smooth motion. Be mindful of keeping your feet flat on the ground and not jerking your body at any point in the movement. At the top of the movement, your lower back should be fully off the floor.

As you lower your torso back to the ground, maintain the same steady flow of movement. Straighten your body to lay back down into the starting position, but try not to release the tension in your core. Keep your abs tightened as you transition to go back up into the next rep.

Avoid Making Common Mistakes

As with any exercise, there are common mistakes you want to consider. These are easy to correct and usually occur as other parts of your body are unconsciously trying to assist in the movement. But you don’t want other assistance, you want the resistance and tension to remain within your core muscles.

The most noted mistake for doing sit ups is to get into a rhythm of using your neck to pull your torso up as you move toward your thighs. You want to avoid pulling yourself up with your neck, as it takes away from your abs doing the work to lift. This mistake puts a strain on your neck and increases risk of injury for a body part that should otherwise be stable for this exercise. As you survey your body throughout the motion of your sit ups, stop the exercise if you feel neck strain, then make your corrections and start again.

Another mistake with sit ups is to drop your torso to the ground toward the end of the rep. If you do this, you’ll interfere with your abdominal muscles maintaining their tension throughout the exercise. You want to get the intended workout by maintaining a slow, controlled motion to lower your torso back down to the ground. You can try to prevent hitting your back against the ground by imaging a thin sheet between you and the ground should only be touched lightly.

4 Ways to Take Sit Ups to the Next Level

woman in a sitting v position

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Whether you're doing an entire core workout or adding some key core exercises to the end of a workout, it’s easy to get crafty with keeping things interesting. How can you bring your core game to the next level? Here are four ways you can level up as you make reasonable dynamic changes. First, let’s see how you can add other abdominal exercises to get a better sit up workout, then we'll work with some weight.

Adding a Twist

It won’t take much time for you to get the hang of sit ups, so we suggest you try pairing them with other abdominal exercises you like to do. A natural addition would be to do some twisted sit ups. Starting in the same position as you would for your regular sit ups, after you lift your torso up toward your thighs, you add a twist. To get balanced twists, you want to turn your torso to the right until your left elbow is touching your right knee, and then alternate twisting your torso to the left next.

Engaging Leg Action 

One of our favorite abdominal exercises to add to your sit ups are flutter kicks. Start by lying on your back on the ground with your palms down and arms alongside your hips. With your legs extended, lift each legs 5 or 6 inches off the ground as you press your lower back into the ground. You will quickly and rhythmically move them in a fluttering motion up and down, switching each leg to be higher.

Whether adding flutter kicks, bicycles, or leg raises, you will notice the additional benefits in building core muscle strength when using your legs. Which ones do you think will provide you with a healthy challenge?

Do Weighted Sit Ups

Yes, doing a few sets of sit ups with your own body weight may tax your body enough. Why not see if you can push those limits by adding extra weight into the mix? Rather than increasing the number of sit ups you’re doing for more intensity, you can also incrementally add weight to your chosen amount of reps once they’ve gotten easier for you to complete.

For weighted sit ups, you start as you would with regular sit ups, lying on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. You can hold a dumbbell with both hands or weight plate against your chest by crossing your arms over it. Once you feel the weight is secure, lift your torso toward your thighs and then lower yourself back down to the ground.

Use a Medicine Ball

Another way to do a weighted sit up is to add a medicine ball into the mix. Start with a light medicine ball and hold it close to your chest as you sit up and go back down. You’ll notice the added challenge due to the amount of weight you're working against. The positioning of holding the medicine ball to your chest ensures that you won’t use momentum from your arms to reach the top of the movement.

Another modification you can make to your with a medicine ball is to toss it for each rep. When you're sitting up at the top of the movement, you toss it up in the air and catch it, or you can toss it straight ahead if you’re working out with a partner. Adding this next component allies you to work your arms along with your abs, while forcing your core to stabilize itself as you throw the ball.


woman doing stretching outdoors

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The reality is that sit ups work! Knowing these tips to supplement your sit up routine will ensure that you maintain consistent with your core workouts. We recommend gradually increasing the difficulty, adding more challenging movements to your regular sit up, like a twist or a flutter kick. Then experiment with moving additional weight around.

How to Become a Body Builder for Beginners

September 24, 2019 by  
Filed under Body Building Goals

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beginner body builder

Body building is among the best ways to achieve a physically fit body and mind. However, the main reason most people go to the gym and start body building is obviously to improve the way they look by getting a strong, muscular physique or to compete professionally in body building.

To get the best results, body building entails more than just lifting weights; you will need to have discipline, patience, and a great diet plan. Huge improvements should not be expected overnight, rather, you should be consistent, follow your workout and diet plans, and be patient enough to achieve muscle growth.

If you just started body building and you want to gain muscles and carve those abs to improve the way you look, you can contact howtobuildbiceps.net to get useful tips and a guide to body building. Keep on reading this post to learn useful tips on how to become a body builder and take body building to the next level.

Body Building and Workout Routine

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The first step towards body building is to get a gym membership or get sets of free weights to lift at home. To become a successful body builder, you will need to have a plan and a goal to work towards. It is important to evaluate your body and work hard on what you really want to do.

For beginners, it is important that you start by doing 3 training sessions of one-hour workouts per week, and later, increase to 4 per week. Training 3 days a week is the best workout routine as it gives the body enough time to rest. Unfortunately, many people feel they are not doing enough on their rest days - not understanding that sufficient rest is just as important as their workouts.

After making your plan, it is important that you begin with each body part’s basic exercises. For example, you can begin with 2 exercises for each body part and train 3 sets each with 10-12 reps. You should choose weights that challenge you when you lift but that you can manage lifting and avoid weights which are far too heavy to lift.

Basic Exercises to Do When Starting Body Building


To train your chest, you can begin with the flat bench press and then do dumbbell flies.


As for the shoulders, you can begin with one pressing movement, then finish with one lateral movement.


Training your arms is important for a body builder as they should be strong enough to enable you to lift weights when exercising other parts of your body. Training your arms can begin with doing cable curl supersets and then triceps push-downs.


The easiest exercises to begin with when training your back is to start with a seated pull-in movement and then doing a pulling down movement.

5. ABS

To exercise your abs, you can begin with sit-ups and then finish with crunches


Training your legs can begin by doing squats and leg extensions.

Remember to do 3 sets with 10-12 reps of all the above workouts during your first days as a body builder. The outlined points above are good basic exercises to start body building with and you will easily adapt and within 3 weeks you will have made progress and want to do more exercises.

Remember, doing the same thing repeatedly can be boring and, therefore, you should not be afraid to substitute these exercises with others which you will learn.

Body Builder Diet and Supplements

To become a successful body builder, you should have a great meal plan. It is important that you adjust your nutritional intake to cope with the more active lifestyle you are living. You can change your diet to include the following meal plans:


Increasing protein intake is very important in body building as muscles are made up of proteins; your body also needs muscles to repair muscles. You should, therefore, take more proteins and include more beef, chicken, tuna, and tofu among other proteins in your meals.



As a body builder, you should take fiber-rich foods such as fruits and vegetables. Fiber is very important to keep your digestive system in track and to keep pace with your increased nutritional needs.



If you want to become a successful body builder, it is important that you cut off your junk intake. Junk foods such as snacks, sweets, and sodas fill up your stomach with empty calories and deny the body the nutrients you need as a body builder.



Complex carbohydrates will provide you with the necessary energy you will need during your training sessions. Complex carbohydrates, unlike the simple carbohydrates, are less likely to be converted and stored as fat in your body. Complex carbohydrates include sweet potatoes, bread, and whole grain pasta, among many others.



Water is very important for you as a body builder as it keeps you hydrated and helps you avoid fatigue during your workouts. Without enough water, your body won’t be able to function normally and you may even experience a headache or feel sluggish. It is important that you make an effort to consume at least one gallon of water per day even on non-workout days.



Eating 4-6 small meals a day is important to ensure a continuous supply of nutrients your body needs to repair and grow. Taking more meals per day with 3 to 4 hour-intervals will help your body maintain a stable blood sugar level.


In most cases, building lean mass can be achieved through exercise and a proper meal plan. In addition, there are several supplements used by body builders to supplement their meals to enhance their muscle growth.


Image via Flickr

These supplements include:

  • Creatinine
  • Multivitamins
  • Glutamine
  • Protein powder supplements

These supplements have numerous benefits and as a body builder, they will help you in the following ways:

  • Give you more strength
  • Reduce recovery time
  • Minimize risk of injury

Tips and More

If you just started body building and you want to get the best results and a great look, the following tips will be of great help to you.


As a body builder, it is important to get organized and, therefore, you should make your own personal workout routine and stick to it. If you are not sure about how to make your program, your training buddy or personal trainer can help you with what to include in your program.

Your workout routine should contain what you train that day, the number of sets, and how many reps you will do on that day.



After you have mastered how to lift weights, it is important that you increase your weights gradually. In addition, increase the number of times you lift each weight and you will be able to gain more muscles and strength.



As a body builder, it is important that you maintain discipline and observe personal hygiene. For example, allow others to use your weights when you rest, wipe off your sweat, and return weights at their default place after you are done.



To achieve your goals as a body builder, it is important that you get plenty of sleep. This is because most of your growth happens when you are sleeping. Getting enough sleep will also give you more strength as you will wake up more energized and rejuvenated to train harder.



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Doing your exercises correctly is very important to enhance your growth. To achieve this, begin by lifting light weights as you will become more flexible with them and you will learn how to lift the weights correctly.

body builder woman with spotter

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Nothing matters most in the gym than your safety. As a body builder, you should be cautious when it comes to lifting and using big weights, you may need a safety belt to protect the lower back.



Proteins are the building blocks for muscles; you should, therefore, take a lot of protein-rich foods such as lean meat, chicken, eggs, milk, and fish.



You should train each group of muscles at least once a week.


Besides the above tips, it is important that you choose a gym that suits you best, for example, one that is near your home. In case a gym is too crowded, consider changing your schedule and come back later in the day. You should also get the necessary clothes which enable you to train efficiently.

You might also need a knee-length short and a loose t-shirt and a pair of sneakers to wear during your workout sessions. A body builder can also make use of a water bottle, a face towel to wipe sweat, and a pair of gloves. It is important that you have the correct gym clothing and other tools.

To become a body builder is not as hard as many people assume; all you need is the dedication to achieve that great body you have always desired. 

If you are considering to become a body builder and you don’t know where to start and how to do it, you can log on to howtobuildbiceps.net and book your initial appointment and we will help you take body building to the next level.

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10 Best Pre Workout List

September 6, 2019 by  
Filed under Weight Lifting

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If you have ever worked out after a long day, you know how tired and fatigued your body can be by the time you reach the gym. This lack of energy can zap your motivation, severely bog you down, and prevent you from giving your best. Fortunately, there’s a way out of this. A good pre workout supplement can recharge your body and mind. In this article, you will learn more about these supplements, their advantages, and the best pre workout supplement among the tons of options available in the market.  

Product FAQ

What Is a Pre Workout Supplement? 

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Similar to whey protein, pre workout supplements come in a powdered form and can be dissolved in either water or other liquids and can be consumed orally. Designed to boost your workout performance, they need to be consumed an hour before your workout, so the supplements have enough time to act on your body.  

What Does a Pre Workout Supplement Do?        

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A good pre workout supplement provides your body with a rush of energy, increases muscular strength and endurance, decreases muscular fatigue, boosts focus and concentration, and promotes increased blood flow to the muscles by dilating the blood vessels. These effects translate to better and amplified levels of performance when working out.

What Are the Factors to Consider before Buying a Pre Workout Supplement?

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Some factors you need to consider before getting a pre workout supplement are the ingredients and their quality, transparency in disclosure, the presence of unnecessary additives or fillers, and user reviews.  

Where Can I Buy the Best Pre Workout Supplement?

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You can get pre workout supplements online through various websites such as Amazon, Strong Supplement Shop, GNC, and Walmart, among others. You could even visit your local supplement store or your local supermarket to pick one up.        

How We Reviewed

Among the many pre workout supplements out on the market, we picked 10 of the most highly rated supplements and compared them to each other. We then reviewed them based on the following factors: ingredient list, pros and cons, and price. Our review team also went to great lengths to understand the ingredients used and the effects they have on the body to give you an unbiased review and talked with real users.

Overall Price Range of Pre Workout Supplements

You can get a good pre workout supplement for as low as $15 or as high as $50 for a 30-serving container. The price of the supplements primarily depends on factors such as the ingredients, the flavoring, and the brand value. Although low-priced supplements can give you a much-needed boost in energy and endurance, they’re typically loaded with highly stimulating ingredients that can cause damage to your body in the long run. Also, they usually hide information by not disclosing the full ingredient list and can cut corners by settling for low-quality ingredients.

What We Reviewed


Product Name


Image by pixabay

Wild Thing by Assault Labs

$35 for a 25-serving container.

Image by pixabay

Seismic Surge by Hard Rock Supplements

$36 for a 30-serving container.

Image by Amazon

Edge of Insanity by Psycho Pharma

$37 to $40 for a 30-serving container.

Image by Amazon

Pre-Kaged by Kaged

$38 for a 20-serving container.

Image by Amazon

Jacked Nitrosurge

$25 for a 30-serving container

Image by Amazon

Pre-Jym by Jym

$40 to $50 depending on the serving size.

Image by Amazon

ENGN Shred by Evlution Nutrition

$35 for a 30-serving container.

Image by Amazon

C4 Original by Cellucor

$30 for a 30-serving container.

Image by Amazon

NeuroCore Pre-Workout by MuslceTech

$30 for a 33-serving container.

Image by Amazon

Pump Boost by RSP Nutrition

$18 for a 30-serving container.

Wild Thing by Assault Labs

powdered supplement

Image by pixabay

  • Help Increase Your Energy*
  • Help Increase Your Focus*
  • Help Increase Your Strength During Workouts*
  • Help Increase Your Muscle Pumps*
  • Help Increase Your Muscle Endurance*
  • Features

    This pre workout supplement contains 5 grams of citrulline malate in a 2 to 1 ratio, 2 grams of beta alanine, 2 grams of arginine, and 2 grams of GlycerPump as the primary ingredients. Citrulline malate and beta alanine work together to reduce muscle fatigue, increasing the amount of high-intensity activity that your muscles can endure. The arginine and GlycerPump matrix boost the nitric oxide content in your body, increasing the amount of blood that flows to the muscles. More blood flow equals more muscular pump.  


    • Creatine hydrochloride increases the muscular strength, improves performance, and promotes muscle hydration
    • Mixes well with the water and does not clump together
    • Prevents muscle fatigue and improves muscular endurance


    • Due to the presence of caffeine, consuming it close to your bedtime can interfere with your sleep
    • Flavor choices are  limited with just two on offer


    Seismic Surge by Hard Rock Supplements

    Image by pixabay

  • Helps Surge Energy*
  • Helps Increase Muscle Pumps*
  • Helps Enhance Muscle Endurance*
  • Promotes an Elevated Positive Mood*
  • Helps Increase Concentration & Focus*
  • Features 

    Elevate your training to the next level with Seismic Surge by Hard Rock supplements. This pre workout supplement contains beta alanine, arginine alphaketoglutarate, and agmatine sulfate as the primary ingredients. They help reduce muscular fatigue and increase the vascularity, delivering more blood to the muscles worked. Synephrine HCL and alpha yohimbine in the supplement promote thermogenesis in the body and supports the utilization of fat stores for energy.  


    • Contains multiple ingredients that help promote focus and concentration
    • Muscles get a great pump
    • Provides clean energy with no jitters or shakes


    • Does not contain citrulline malate, which helps delay muscular fatigue
    • Does not contain amounts per serving for individual ingredients


    Edge of Insanity by Psycho Pharma


    Edge of Insanity by Psycho Pharma gives your muscles a great pump and increases the amount of blood that flows to your muscles. This is because the pre workout supplement contains arginine alphaketoglutarate (in a 2 to 1 ratio) and agmatine sulfate as the primary ingredients. The supplement is high on stimulating ingredients such as caffeine, phenibut, yohimbine extract, and green tea extract, which isn’t very healthy for your body in the long run.


    • Perfect for people who prefer supplements with stimulants
    • Gives you a high dose of energy with a mild euphoric feeling


    • Lacks the ingredient citrulline malate, which helps keep muscle fatigue at bay
    • Amounts per serving for individual ingredients are not listed


    Where to Buy

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    Pre-Kaged by Kaged


    Unlike other pre workout supplements, the Pre-Kaged by Kaged Muscle does not use any proprietary blends to hide supplement information. The supplement features 6.5 grams of citrulline malate, which is known to reduce muscle fatigue and lactic acid build-up and increase performance. Besides that, citrulline malate also improves your body's ability to use amino acids such as BCAAs as a fuel source.


    • All the ingredients are listed along with their amounts per serving
    • Contains 6.5 grams of BCAAs that provide your muscles with energy and delay fatigue
    • Consists of creatine HCL, which increases muscle volume and strength


    • Issues with mixability as it doesn’t seem to dissolve completely
    • Flavors not great


    Where to Buy

    Jacked Nitrosurge


    Even with very few ingredients and a tiny serving size of just 9 grams, the Jacked Nitrosurge provides your body with the focus, strength, and energy to break through plateaus. The primary ingredients of this pre workout supplement are citrulline, beta alanine, and betaine anhydrous. Although the supplement contains caffeine, it is in a relatively low dosage, which is just enough to keep you alert and focused. L-Theanine in the supplement helps to counteract and manage the stimulating effects of caffeine, preventing crashes.  


    • Features AstraGin, which helps support absorption of the ingredients by the body
    • Does not contain fillers, unnecessary ingredients, or proprietary blends
    • Is not overloaded with caffeine or other highly stimulating ingredients


    • Has a slightly strong aftertaste which may not be appealing to everybody
    • Comes in only two flavors


    Where to Buy

    Pre-Jym by Jym


    The Pre-Jym by Jym Supplement Science is arguably one of the cleanest pre workout supplements ever created. The supplement does not contain any proprietary blends, is fully transparent, and lists out all the ingredients used along with the amount per serving values. Backed by science, the ingredients in the supplement are in the right doses and come in the right combinations to provide maximum performance enhancement.  


    • Comes in five refreshing flavors
    • Provides your body with smooth energy and does not jolt you
    • Contains creatine, beta-alanine, BCAAs, citrulline malate, and a host of other ingredients in a single scoop, eliminating the need to take separate supplements


    • Very expensive when compared with other alternatives
    • 300 mg of caffeine can cause issues with sleep if consumed closer to bedtime


    Where to Buy

    ENGN Shred by Evlution Nutrition


    Besides boosting your performance in the gym, the ENGN Shred also contains vitamins and minerals such as vitamins B6 and B12, folic acid, and niacin. Aside from providing you with a rush of energy and focus, ENGN Shred also helps increase your body’s potential to burn fat as it contains ingredients such as CLA, Capsimax, L-Carnitine, and Yohimbe extract.  


    • Delays muscle fatigue and increases endurance
    • Promotes fat loss via thermogenesis and increases the body’s ability to tap into fat stores to use as fuel
    • Can suppress appetite


    • Some ingredients do not have the amounts per serving listed out individually
    • Some users experience stomach issues and nausea after consumption


    Where to Buy

    C4 Original by Cellucor


    Similar to ENGN Shred, the C4 Original by Cellucor also contains a blend of vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C, vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, niacin, folic acid, and calcium. Except for 1.6 grams of beta alanine, 1 gram of creatine nitrate, and 1 gram of arginine alphaketoglutarate, there aren’t any other significant ingredients in the supplement.  


    • Due to the low caffeine content, the supplement does not cause any issues with sleep
    • Flavors taste great and do not have a chemical or artificial taste 
    • Provides your body with a high dose of energy


    • At just 6.5 grams, the serving size is too small with inadequate dosages of ingredients
    • Features very minimal ingredients and lacks several others


    Where to Buy

    NeuroCore Pre-Workout by MuslceTech


    Neurocore is a tried and tested pre workout supplement from one of the most well-known manufacturers of supplements, MuscleTech. Featuring a healthy dose of beta alanine, citrulline, and creatine HCL, the supplement delivers exceptional energy, strength, and endurance, enabling you to perform better. NeuroCore is low on highly stimulating ingredients, providing you with clean, smooth energy with no jitters.


    • Caffeine content is low and does not cause insomnia or caffeine crashes
    • Mixes well and dissolves completely in water, leaving you with no clumps or residues
    • Creatine HCL helps increase the muscular strength


    • Requires you to take 2 scoops to feel the effects
    • Some users report nausea and other digestive issues with 2-scoop servings


    Where to Buy

    Pump Boost by RSP Nutrition


    The Pump Boost by RSP Nutrition is one of the rare pre workout supplements with absolutely no stimulating ingredients in the formulation. The primary ingredients of the supplement are 2.5 grams of L-Citrulline and 1.5 grams of Glycerol. Due to its stimulant-free nature, it can be consumed at any point in the day to get a slight boost in energy.


    • Affordable when compared with other alternatives
    • Free from stimulating ingredients
    • Contains 250 mg of coconut water powder that supports hydration of the body


    • Muscular pumps are not on the level of other pre workout supplements with stimulants
    • Slim ingredient profile might not appeal to most people


    Where to Buy

    The Verdict

    Based on our comprehensive review of the best pre workout supplements, the Pre-Jym by Jym Supplement Science scores high on the effectiveness scale. It is the perfect supplement for both first-timers and seasoned consumers alike. With Pre-Jym, your body does not develop any tolerance, allowing you to enjoy the effects consistently without having to take a break from it. The only drawback of an otherwise great product is the high pricing. But the pros far outweigh the cons. 

    Though high in stimulant ingredients, Wild Thing by Assault Labs is another great alternative. Wild Thing gives you a rush of crazy energy and intense focus with a massive skin ripping pump. If you’re not a huge fan of highly stimulating supplements, the Pump Boost by RSP Nutrition might interest you with its no-stimulant formulation.


    Overhead Press: Our Comprehensive Guide

    September 4, 2019 by  
    Filed under Weight Lifting

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    Are you looking for a great exercise that will help you build your shoulders? Try the overhead press! It’s a staple of bodybuilding and weightlifting for one simple reason—it’s extremely effective when done safely. It can help sculpt those boulder shoulders and it even recruits other upper body muscles at the same time, such as the pecs and triceps. Next time you’re at the gym, consider adding it to your routine.

    Benefits of the Overhead Press

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    The overhead press targets all of the “heads” of the deltoids—posterior, anterior, and medial—as well as the pectoral muscles. It can also work your traps, especially if you squeeze at the top.

    Like any good compound exercise, the overhead press can target other muscles incidentally as well, like the triceps and forearm muscles. In other words, it’s a great all-around shoulder exercise that will hit several major muscles all at once.

    In fact, there are many benefits to doing the overhead press over trying to target each individual shoulder muscle with less efficient isolation exercises:

    • The movement is very basic and easy to learn
    • It targets almost all of the “pushing” muscles of the upper body
    • It is a great cross-training exercise if you’re looking to improve other pushing movements like bench press, dips, or handstand push-ups
    • It allows you to simplify your workout and cut out isolation movements such as lateral raises
    • It allows you to lift more total weight since you’re using more muscles; there is some evidence that lifting heavy can increase testosterone levels

    The overhead press is a standard weightlifting exercise, and chances are it will be part of any basic weightlifting routine that you adopt. There are also many different variations of the exercise, so you can mix things up if you’re not ready to do the standard barbell version of the movement.

    How Much Should I Lift?

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    man lifts barbell via overhead press

    image source: Pexels

    When you get started weightlifting and you’ve never done a movement before—or even if you’re just really rusty—it’s important to start slow and keep weight low. Don’t let your ego dictate how much you put on the bar, or you could injure yourself!

    Keep It Slow and Steady

    Since the overhead press is a harder exercise and recruits smaller muscles, don’t expect to lift a lot, especially at first. Your overhead press 1-rep max will probably be around 70% of your bench press 1-rep max, or maybe even less. Like any exercise, don’t lift your maximum every time. You should lift about 60 to 80% of your max, depending on how many total reps you’re doing.

    In most cases, don’t concern yourself with lifting to failure. You should be able to do all of the reps that are required in your routine without completely exhausting yourself. For example, if you’re doing a 5x5, you should be able to do all of those 5 sets of 5 reps with good form. If you can’t, then you’re lifting too much weight. Take some plates off the bar and work up to it some more. The weight should challenge you a little bit, but you shouldn’t be grunting and screaming during every rep.

    Of course, the very first time you do the movement, use an empty bar. Don’t load any weight at all until you have the correct form down. It’s much harder to fix bad form once you’ve created a habit out of it and started adding weight. You could also injure yourself if you lift lots of weight without the correct form. Err on the side of caution and get someone who knows about weightlifting to show you how to do an overhead press correctly. Also, remember to keep your core tight while doing the movement to prevent any awkward twisting of your lower back.


    Man makes overhead press

    image source: Pexels

    Be mindful not to over-train when adding this exercise to your routine. You may be doing other exercises that recruit some of the same muscles—such as the bench press or the dip—so you’ll need to take this into consideration. If you’re feeling too sore, cut back a little on the weight, the number of reps, or the frequency.

    You could also cut out a few sets per week of a similar exercise and replace it with an overhead press. For example, one day of the week you could do an overhead press instead of a bench press and this may help your muscles get a more well-rounded workout.

    The Overhead Press: A Step-by-Step Guide

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    How do you do an overhead press, though? It’s actually an extremely simple exercise, and you probably already perform this motion occasionally in your everyday life. It’s really just a matter of lifting weight safely over your head, using mostly force from your shoulders and pecs.

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    You can do an overhead press seated or standing, and there are several other variations. If you want to challenge the stabilizing muscles in your core, you’ll want to do a standing press.

    For some people, especially when they’re first starting, doing a standing press may be a bit too hard. If you find yourself wobbling from side to side, then you may not be ready yet. In that case, you can start by doing an overhead press with dumbbells in a seated or kneeling position. Work on your core muscles until you’re ready to attempt the traditional overhead press.

    Here’s how you do an overhead press:


    Stand Holding the Barbell Against Your Upper Pecs

    You’ll want your hands positioned a bit wider than your shoulders. Make sure it feels comfortable and stable. “Pack” your shoulders as well for better form. This means pulling your shoulders back, sticking out your chest, and keeping your back straight. Tighten your core.

    It is also here during the starting position that some people like to take a deep breath so they can let it out explosively during the movement itself.

    This is a good breathing technique, but you can also breathe normally. The main thing to be mindful of, especially if you’re a beginner, is to keep breathing. Don’t hold your breath during any part of the movement! This can be hard if your natural urge is to hold your breath while exerting force. Holding your breath could lead to serious injury because it can raise your blood pressure to suddenly high levels and potentially burst a blood vessel.


    Push Straight Up

    Keeping your arms moving in a straight line, push up towards the ceiling. The bar will end up in an end position that is hovering high over your head.

    Avoid swinging the weight around or otherwise using momentum to carry it up. You want to use your muscles to do the pushing. If you have to use momentum to get it over your head, then you’re using too much weight. Make the movement slow and steady, especially if it’s the first time that you’ve done it.


    Squeeze At The Top (Optional)

    If you want to give your traps an extra workout, you can do an overhead shrug at the very top of the movement. It may look a little funny, but it works your traps just as well or even better than standard shrugs. You can even do this movement as an isolation exercise if you want to target the traps alone.


    Bring It Back Down Safely

    Do the negative side of the movement in the exact opposite way that you performed the positive side. Bring the barbell down until it rests lightly on your upper pecs and then start the next rep after a brief pause. If you have trouble bringing the barbell down and there’s a lot of shaking and instability, reduce the amount of weight that you’re using or try an easier variation of the exercise.


    Follow General Weightlifting Guidelines

    Just as with any resistance exercise, don’t forget to follow the usual safety standards:

    • Breathe throughout the movement and never, ever hold your breath during exertion
    • Don’t load too much weight on the bar
    • Use a spotter, especially if it’s your first time
    • Consider doing easier versions of the movement before you perform a standing overhead press
    • Stop short of total failure to avoid losing control of the bar

    If you follow these guidelines, you should be able to do an overhead press fairly easily with minimal risk of injury. It’s a simple movement, and chances are that you’re already lifting things over your head sometimes at home or at work, anyway. In fact, it’s exactly because of this that the overhead press is one of those basic, useful bodybuilding movements that can help reduce your chance of injury in everyday life as well.


    person carrying black barbell overhead press

    image source: Pexels

    The overhead press is a great exercise to try. It’s right up there with other standard pushing movements such as the bench press, the push-up, and the dip. If you want to target the upper chest and shoulders, it’s one of the best exercises you can do.

    Since it’s a compound movement, it works the smaller muscles of the arms and the stabilizing muscles of the core as well. This means it’s a very efficient exercise to add to your routine that will save you time at the gym. It can also be done easily with both barbells and dumbbells, which gives weightlifters of all levels an opportunity for mastery.