Starting Position: Sit with your back firmly supported against the backrest. Adjust the seat height so that the handles are level with your shoulders or just higher than your shoulders. Grasp the handles closest to your body firmly with the thumbs clasped around the handles, palms facing one another and elbow pointed forward (do not allow the elbows to flare in or out) Keep your wrists in line with your forearms. This position shifts more of the load into the triceps and away from the shoulders. Position your feet firmly on the floor or on the footrests and brace your abdominal muscles to stabilize your body and spine. Do not press your low back into the backrest. Maintain the natural curve in your low back and avoid arching your back throughout the exercise. Pull your shoulder blades back and down. Keep these engagements throughout the exercise.
Gently exhale and slowly press up, straightening your elbows; keeping the wrists in neutral position and head aligned with your spine. Do not allow the low back to arch.
Continue pressing until your elbows are fully straight, but not locked. Pause briefly. Engage the muscles of your back to pull the handles back down towards your starting position. The elbows should bend in a slow, controlled manner while returning to their starting forward-facing position. Repeat the movement.
Exercise Variation: To increase the exercise intensity, perform the following variations:
(a) Perform unilateral (one arm at a time) presses
(b) Sit upright off the backrest, which will require a greater effort from your core to stabilize your trunk as you perform the press movement.
This position is more comfortable and less stressful on the shoulders and more appropriate for individuals who experience some discomfort when performing traditional shoulder presses as it shifts more load into the triceps. In the overhead position, the shoulder is relatively unstable. To protect your shoulder it is important to engage your lats (back muscles) to initiate the downward movement as opposed to simply yielding to gravity. This will help stabilize your shoulder.