Seated vs. Standing Overhead Press

| May 26, 2014 by Truth Seeker |

U.S. strength coach Bill Starr performs the overhead press

U.S. strength coach Bill Starr performs the standing overhead press

One of the most popular shoulder exercises on the planet is the seated dumbbell overhead press. However, thanks to the increasing interest in barbell training, the standing overhead press is making a comeback. Question is, which one is better – the seated or the standing version?

The biggest downfall of the seated overhead press is that the exercise places a lot of stress on your lower back. In general, your lower back is not happy when you sit, especially for a prolonged amount of time. When you load the spine with dumbbells or barbells while in a sitting position, you have a recipe for even more stress.

Conversely, when you are standing, the core and the glutes can be activated to a higher degree. This takes pressure off the spine.


Another benefit of the standing overhead press is that it’s actually less dangerous than the seated version which often requires a spotter. When you are sitting on a bench, and you have a heavy barbell over your head, simply dropping it is not always an option.

On the other hand, when you are standing, you can drop the barbell much more safely and with minimal risk of hurting yourself. Of course, you could damage the floor or the equipment in the process. Ultimately, you should never miss a rep. Don’t train to complete failure.

Bottom line: The standing overhead press is safer.

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