How To Do The Cable Overhead Press Properly

One of the best ways to keep your upper body strong and functional is by including the cable overhead press in your upper body workout.

The cable overhead press is a variation of the overhead press which uses a cable pulley machine to work the muscle groups in your upper body.

In this exercise, you get to fire up your upper body muscles by pushing resistance above your head, with the help of the weight provided by the cable pulley machine.

Required equipment: Cable pulley machine, single grip handle

Steps:

  • Attach a single grip handle to a low pulley on the machine.
  • Grab the handle with your right arm then stand straight in front of the machine.
  • Squat down and then back up, and then press the cable overhead. Keep your glutes and core tight during the squat.
  • You can twist your torso to your side if you want to put more tension in your deltoids.
  • Do as many reps as you desire with the right arm before switching to the left side.
  • Alternate between the right and left arms.

WHAT MUSCLES DOES THE CABLE OVERHEAD PRESS WORK?

The cable overhead press basically targets the deltoid muscles in your shoulders, but it also works your pectorals, triceps and the trapezius muscles on your upper back.

Since it demands a lot of balance, it also recruits your core and glutes for maximum stability.

CABLE OVERHEAD PRESS BENEFITS

ISOLATES YOUR SHOULDERS

The cable overhead press is designed to put a lot of tension in your shoulder muscles so that you isolate them through your motions as you perform it.

STRENGTHENS CORE

This exercise requires that you tighten and engage the muscles in your core as you press the cable over your head.

Your core, together with your glutes, provides the driving power for this exercise. If you keep it tight throughout the movement, you will be working the muscles in there too.

IMPROVES YOUR BALANCE AND STABILITY

One of the main functions of your glutes and core is to stabilize your lower back and spine which in turn stabilize the rest of the body.

By engaging these two muscle groups, the cable overhead press enhances your overall balance and stability.

FUNCTIONALITY

Using the single grip handle on the cable pulley machine allows you to rotate your shoulders during this exercise.

This movement mimics how your shoulders naturally operate, which makes it a functional exercise.

CONSTANT TENSION IN THE MUSCLES

When you use the cable machine to work your muscles, it keeps them under tension throughout the movement.

This way, you will be able to get the most out of this exercise.

ALTERNATIVES TO THE CABLE OVERHEAD PRESS

DUMBBELL SHOULDER PRESS

The dumbbell shoulder press is a fantastic option you can go for if you want to strengthen your shoulders without doing the cable overhead press.

How to do it:

  • Position the backrest of a bench vertically then sit on the bench.
  • Hold the dumbbells in your hands, with their noses resting on your thighs.
  • Kick the dumbbells up by driving both of your knees into your chest.
  • Press your hands above your head and then lock your elbows.
  • Return the dumbbells below your ears and repeat the above steps.
  • Do as many reps as you desire.

Note that unlike the standing variation of this exercise, the seated variation provides back support, preventing your lumbar spine from excessively arching.

Also, you are free to choose any grip that will let you lift as much weight as you can comfortably control.

HANDSTAND PUSH-UP

This exercise is a wonderful bodyweight alternative to the cable overhead press.

It is popularly used in Crossfit by lifters who have mastered the basics of the push press and overhead press.

This is because it requires immense shoulder strength and stability which can only be possessed by people who have mastered the form in basic pressing movements.

Instructions:

  • Stand upright facing a wall.
  • Kick both feet up so that you are in a handstand position against the wall.
  • Tighten your core and glutes.
  • Lower yourself slowly toward the ground, going as far as you possibly can.
  • Push your body back up and repeat the steps.
  • Do as many reps as you desire.

SINGLE ARM DUMBBELL PUSH PRESS

This movement is an advanced variation of the push press that allows you to overload each arm independently.

How to do it:

  • Start by standing upright with a dumbbell in one hand, just next to your shoulders.
  • Dipping your knees, get into a quarter squat and drive your body upwards in an explosive manner.
  • Use the power from your lower body to enable you lift the dumbbell overhead.
  • Once your working arm is locked, return it to your shoulders as you count to 5.

This advanced variation requires a lot of balance, motor control and coordination. Therefore, make sure you are comfortable pressing any kind of weight overhead before attempting it.

What makes this exercise a wonderful alternative is the fact that it not only allows you to overload your each arm but it also trains each arm independently, preventing muscle imbalance.

MACHINE SHOULDER PRESS

Working your shoulder muscles using a press machine allows you to maintain tension in your shoulders constantly throughout the exercise.

The more tension you put your muscles under, the higher your chances of getting good results.

Steps:

  • Fit yourself into the shoulder press machine.
  • Place your hands on the grips.
  • Drive both arms overhead, making sure to press through the full range of motion.
  • Slowly and with control, return your hands to the starting position.
  • Repeat the above steps as many times as you desire.

CABLE OVERHEAD PRESS MISTAKES TO AVOID

NOT USING THE CORE AND GLUTES

You should keep your glutes and core engaged throughout this exercise because they keep your body stable during the press.

If your body loses stability in the course of the exercise, you might shake the bar and reduce the amount of weight you are pushing.

FLARING THE ELBOWS

Your elbows should either be directly underneath your wrists or slightly tucked inward. This angle allows for maximum force production which puts tension in the target muscles.

FINAL WORD

Your upper body houses muscles that are collectively responsible for several functions such as rotating, reaching and lifting overhead.

It is important that you keep these muscles strong through exercises such as the cable overhead press which functionally work them through a full range of motion.

If you have any shoulder pain or a history of shoulder injury, it’s best to consult your physician before doing this movement.

With the correct form and consistency, this exercise will certainly give you those strong shoulders you’d love to have.