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 a full grip (thumbs clasped around the handles) and maintain a neutral position with your wrists (i.e., wrists in line with your forearms). Position your elbows pointing towards the front of your body (i.e., not in the traditional 3 and 9 o'clock positions where the elbows are aligned with the midline of your trunk). 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 foot rests to stabilize your body. Stiffen (“brace”) your abdominal muscles to stabilize your spine, but do not press your low back into the backrest. Maintain the natural arch in your low back and avoid arching your back throughout the exercise. Depress and retract your scapulae (pull shoulders back and down) and attempt to hold this position throughout the exercise.
Gently exhale and slowly perform an upward pressing movement, extending your elbows overhead while maintaining a neutral wrist position, head aligned with your spine and avoiding arching your low back.
Continue pressing until your elbows are fully extended, but not locked. Pause momentarily then gently contract your lats (back muscles) to pull the handles back down towards your starting position, allowing your elbows to flex (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 oppsed to simply yielding to gravity. This will help stabilize your shoulder.