10 Best Overhead Press Alternatives You Can Practice

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10 Best Overhead Press Alternatives You Can Practice
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Building shoulders is an unavoidable attribute of overall fitness. If you are aiming to develop shoulder strength then overhead presses exercise will be your first choice. Having alternatives is the best idea for choosing it. You have overhead press alternatives with simple modifications. These modifications make your shoulder workout impactful.

These overhead press alternatives are to practice when you don’t have a barbell handy or to focus on a specific part of your shoulder. Furthermore, these exercises help you build core strength. Adding the alternatives to your workout can be a benefit that also strengthens the tricep muscles.

If you feel tedious to practice the same overhead press exercise then add a twist to it. The overhead press alternatives are as effective as the original exercise. We have elaborated the information with the benefits of the exercises and steps to master each of it.

What makes an effective overhead press alternative?

If an overhead press exercise is targeting a group of muscles then it can be an effective one. The one which you can practice with the least equipment like dumbbells, plates, barbells can be another reason for opting for alternatives. A few alternative exercises are advanced challenging specific parts of the body and these factors make them the best for a solid workout routine.

Overhead alternatives to do

1. Incline barbell bench press

Incline barbell bench press
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This is an exercise that targets the same groups of muscles that an overhead press does. It works more on the upper portion of the pectoral muscles. By practicing this overhead press alternative, it will improve your flat bench presses with flexible mobility in the shoulders.

Steps to do

  1. Lay your back on the bench in an inclined position at 45 degrees.
  2. Widen your feet and press into the floor for a stable grip.
  3. Hold the barbell with the wider shoulder width and get the right grip.
  4. Push your shoulder blades together and keep your wrists straight.
  5. Inhale and lower the barbell to your chest and tuck your elbows.
  6. Exhale while lifting up the barbell away from the chest.
  7. Repeat the movement holding the barbell.

Pro tip

Practice this overhead press alternative is to incline your bench at 55 degrees. This way you can grab the same benefits of the standard overhead press.

Watch the video for best practice:

2. Machine shoulder press

Machine shoulder press
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Do you have access to a gym machine? Then you can try this overhead press alternative which resembles a barbell shoulder press. It strengthens your shoulder muscles with intense movement.

The machine press allows you to practice the repeated movement which applies the focus on your shoulders alone. This is one of the best overhead press alternatives to work on muscle groups without a barbell.

Steps to do

  1. Sit on the bench of the machine and get the grips of handles.
  2. Set the handles at shoulder height and this will be your starting position.
  3. Once you are all set, inhale and lift up the handles.
  4. Slowly lower the handles and bring them to the starting position.
  5. Repeat the movement to create the stretch in your muscles.
  6. Do 10-15 repetitions to complete a set.

Pro tip

Keep your elbows slightly bent to create tension in your shoulders. You can even practice this alternative with a lateral dumbbell raise to exhaust your shoulders.

Watch the video for best practice:

3. Z press

Z press
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A press is a high-intensity overhead press alternative. It is an advanced exercise that challenges your core strength and mobility. Moreover, it isolates the shoulders to a greater extent. And it is the best dumbbell chest exercise.

This is an exercise that can be practiced by sitting on the floor. Sometimes, the lifters tend to bend their knees for an easy movement which is not supposed to do. Just follow the instructions below and the video to improve the exercise.

Steps to do

  1. Keep the barbell at a low level on the rack.
  2. Stretch your legs and spread your feet wider than shoulder-width.
  3. Now extend your hands to hold the barbell and unrack it.
  4. Bring the barbell in front of your chest and tuck your elbows bent.
  5. You get the starting position with the right grip of the barbell.
  6. While the weight comes closer to your face, slowly move your head forward.
  7. Raise the barbell up moving it away from your chest.
  8. Come back to the starting position and repeat the movement.
  9. Do 5-10 reps as a beginner and keep increasing the count later.

Pro tip

Practice the exercise priorly with dumbbells a few times to improve stability. Don’t allow your elbows to come completely down as your shoulders rotate inwards.

Watch the video for best practice:

4. Dumbbell shoulder press

Dumbbell shoulder press
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When you are falling short of a barbell you can use dumbbells as the substitute. You are loading weight on your muscles which makes it an overhead press alternative. In fact, this exercise increases shoulder stability compared to the original exercise. As practice the exercise in sitting position, you can lift heavier weights and build your core strength.

The same pattern of lifting can decrease shoulder mobility and stability. So, in between you can practice this exercise to modify the grip.

Steps to do

  1. Comfortably sit on a bench and rest your back with support.
  2. Get the dumbbells grip in each hand with the help of your gym partner.
  3. Keep your chest and back straight without any bend.
  4. Keep your feet apart more than shoulder width apart.
  5. Set the dumbbells with slightly bent elbows and parallel to the floor.
  6. You got the starting position. Lift up the dumbbells until your arms stretch fully.
  7. Dumbbells must go over your head at this step.
  8. Bring back the dumbbells to the starting position.
  9. Repeat the movement for 10-15 times to complete a set.

Pro tip

This exercise can be performed in standing position but seated position is more comfortable as it supports your back and prevents from excessive lumbar arching. You can even lift more weight after mastering the exercise.

Watch the video for best practice:

5. Handstand push up

Handstand push up
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Handstand push up is an alternative to overhead press for the entire body. To practice this exercise, you need a stronger shoulder strength and stability. It is only recommended to practice after mastering the basic overhead and push press exercises as it needs advanced capability. It is an effective exercise for the builders when they don’t have the weights.

Steps to do

  1. Start with placing your palms on the floor and hands 6-10 inches away from the wall.
  2. Lift your legs away from the floor to come into a handstand position.
  3. Establish a strong handstand position by pressing the palms into the floor.
  4. Keep your shoulder blades stronger and stable. Balance your legs well.
  5. Now slowly let the top of your head touch the floor by moving forward.
  6. Then push your head away from the floor with stretched out elbows.
  7. Do least repetitions if you are new to practicing the exercise.

Pro tip

You have several variations to achieve a powerful handstand. Try getting a super grip with push up bars and kick up for handstand position. This allows you to get the right support to put all your body weight on the bars and withstand for a longer time.

Watch the video for best practice:

6. Single arm dumbbell push press

Single arm dumbbell push press
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With this overhead press alternative you are overloading a single arm. It is an incredible replacement for shoulder press. It includes dipping the hips and knees then forcefully raising your body upwards along with the weight in a hand.

You can train both of your arms independently which helps balance both sides if there is any imbalance. It also improves the shoulder press and bench press.

Steps to do

  1. Hold a dumbbell away from your shoulders in one hand.
  2. Hold it at the shoulder level. Keep your other hand down at the sides.
  3. Keep your knees bent slightly for a quarter squat.
  4. Then raise your body with pressure while lifting the dumbbell overhead.
  5. Allow your arm to stretch out straight and return to your shoulder level.
  6. Repeat this movement for 5-10 times to complete a set.

Pro tip

You must be comfortable while pressing the weight overhead. The ideal safe way to lift the dumbbell with a single arm is to hold it in a neutral grip. Prone grip can be tougher for you to do it with a single arm. Also don’t bend your back forward or backward but keep it straight but bend your knees to drive the weight explosively overhead.

Watch the video for best practice:

7. Landmine press

Landmine press
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You can train both sides (left and right) independently by practicing this exercise. Focusing on both sides separately is called a unilateral movement. It helps you correct the muscular balances of each side if any. And It improves the balance and core strength of your body.

Even It is an overhead press alternatives for the lifters who have difficulty with overhead mobility. It applies more weight to the front body than overhead. Still, the movement trains your shoulders without overstraining them.

Steps to do

  1. Attach one end of the barbell into the landmine.
  2. Do half kneel holding the barbell in one hand at shoulder level.
  3. Tighten your core and lift up the barbell with a single arm.
  4. Lock your arm after stretching it and bring it down to shoulder level.
  5. Repeat the movement for 10-15 times and switch it on either side.

Pro tip

Check how close you are to the barbell. If the barbell is just above your head then just move a bit back from it. Make sure that your hand is at head level when your arm is locked up. Also press both your feet into the floor while raising the barbell for a solid lift.

Watch the video for best practice:

8. Push press

Push press
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You can lift a little more weight with push press compared to standard overhead press. It applies the solid pressure on triceps and shoulders while training the chest, abs, lower back and legs. The exercise strengthens the core and builds the upper body with vigorous movements.

Steps to do

  1. Start with a straight standing position by unracking the barbell.
  2. Hold the barbell with shoulder width apart and elbows must be above the barbell.
  3. Once you get the strong grips, slightly bend your knees and push the barbell overhead.
  4. Stretch your knees, torso and arms straight while taking the barbell upwards.
  5. Lower the bar holding it at the shoulder level which is your starting position.
  6. Repeat the barbell lifting and lowering movement for 5-10 times.

Pro tip

Achieve full grip on the bar while holding- for that keep your hands just outside the shoulders and elbows slightly outside the bar. Lower your torso slightly and squat a little for a powerful lift.

Watch the video for best practice:

9. Double dumbbell raise

Double dumbbell raise
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Here is an overhead press alternative without lifting your arms over shoulders. If you have lack of shoulder mobility overhead or due to any injury in the shoulders. This exercise is more focused on deltoid muscles which are located at the shoulder blades.

It is an exercise with two different movements at the same time. You will have to perform the same number of repetitions for both the movements.

Steps to do

  1. Start with a standing position with feet shoulder width apart.
  2. Hold dumbbells in each hand with slightly bent elbows.
  3. Stretch your arms and lift the dumbbells up parallel to the floor.
  4. Then lower the dumbbells till at the sides of your hips.
  5. Now immediately raise your loaded weight laterally.
  6. Then lower the dumbbells holding down at the sides of your hips.
  7. Repeat both of these movements back to back for 5-10 times.
  8. Keep your chest and back straight while practicing the exercise.

Pro tip

If you want to switch the load then make the transition faster instead of an extended gap in between. This allows you to train for the challenge and strengthens your muscles at the same time.

Watch the video for best practice:

10. Seated Arnold Press

Seated Arnold Press
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The exercise targets the main shoulder muscles. It is a seated overhead press alternative where it takes more strength from the upper body rather than legs and core. If you are training your upper body for strength and stability then you can master this exercise practicing it regularly.

It is vigorous and with high intensity movement. Lifters enjoy performing this alternative as they can load more weight and sculpt their upper body.

Steps to do

  1. Start with a sitting position on the bench with feet shoulder width apart.
  2. Hold a dumbbell in each hand in front of your face.
  3. Let the end of the dumbbells face each other closer to your chest.
  4. Keep your chest, shoulders, back straight and slightly bend your elbows.
  5. Now from here, raise your hands with the loaded weight overhead.
  6. You must feel the load on your shoulder when the dumbbells are overhead.
  7. Once the arms are straightly stretched, lower the dumbbells to a starting position.
  8. Repeat this movement for 10-12 times to complete a set.

Pro tip

You must remember the exercises of two continuous movements but not different. Stretch and tuck your arms straight to create a good stretch.

Watch the video for best practice:

Bottom line: Strength training your body means looking for variations of an exercise. You are improving your workout with Overhead press alternatives exercises for a particular exercises. This way you train different groups of muscles,core, upper body and lower body. Also you don’t have to give it up with lack of equipment when you have the possible alternatives. Most of the overhead press alternatives give you the same benefits but with simpler and modified style. You get a set of exercises to complete a high-intensity workout routine with it.

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