"I was curious on your opinion about over head presses.
I read in Powerlifting USA that many big benchers feel
that overhead work such as dumbbell presses can cause
strain on the shoulder joints and rotator cuffs.
Many top benchers completely avoid this type of training.
What do you think?"
Thanks, Mike Westerdal
"I do not agree that overhead presses weaken the shoulders.
I think this misperception comes from many big benchers
failing to develop the rotator cuff adequately. I think weak
shoulders result from failing to develop the rotator cuff,
the four small muscles that secure the head of the humerus
to the glenoid fossa of the scapula. The result of pressing
heavy overhead is a tear in the rotator cuff in the weakness
position, which is the subscapularis muscle. As you know many
heavy benchers fixate on the bench and muscular imbalances
develop in the rotator cuff of the shoulder. The weakest
position of the shoulder is when you overhead press, because
it has only a single muscle, the subscapularis, to hold the
head of the humerus in place. Heavy weight in an undertrained
muscle will tear it in it's weakest position. If you don't
train the rotator cuff, it will tear, no if, and, or buts.
That is why the device the "shoulder horn" is supposed to
work. It isolates the rotator cuff and by selectively building
this group you can improve your bench. You are only as strong
as your weakest link and as you know every big bencher has
problems with the rotator cuff. To ignore the overhead work
totally, is to set up imbalances in the rotator cuff that will
come back to haunt you. I have never used a shoulder horn,
but it is supposed to strengthen the rotator cuff. Too many
people feel they have to go big all the time...the rotator cuff
are four small muscles that secure the head of the humerus to
the glenoid fossa of the scapula. If the rotator cuff is built
up slowly, it only stands to reason that your bench will
improve because you are training your weak link. Train the weak
link and you will prevent injury, and improve your lift overall.
If you are interested let me know and I will get together
with some physical medicine docs and give you a program to
isolate and strength the rotator cuff. Again I am not a
sports medicine doc, or an orthopedist, so take what I say
with a grain of salt, but I am a pediatrician for 18 years
with the last 5 of those being into weight training."