So we know how to train the muscles that push doors open and pull things towards us. What if we want to raise the roof? Fist bump with force? Well you're in luck because the next topic for our February theme is vertical push. This is an interesting group of muscles because, similar to our horizontal push muscles, these muscles are on the small side.
When we want to train our vertical pushing muscles we focus on the shoulders, or the deltoid muscles, and the triceps. You can see in the images below that compared to many of the other muscles in the upper body, these muscles are much smaller. Our biological need to press things over our heads has always been minimal. If anything we have needed to pull ourselves up! I'll talk more on that in a few days.
Pressing weights over our head is actually a fragile movement. I say fragile because there is actually a nerve that runs underneath the shoulder muscles and through the shoulder joint area. When we over train these muscles, or if we end up with compensation patterns that put our shoulders in unfavourable positions, we put that nerve at risk of being pinched.
That shouldn't discourage you from training your shoulders! You just want to keep it in mind while you train and ensure you keep your posture proper. It is also important to start small. If you push too heavy with these muscles, you may end up training the upper traps more than the deltoids.
Dumbbell lateral raise is a great way to train the shoulders. There are tons of ways to modify this exercise as well so that you can tailor it to your workout. Dumbbells, cables, or the machines at the gym are all options for you to implement this exercise into your regime.
If you are trying this for the first time, grab a small pair of dumbbells. With palms by your sides, slightly bend the elbows so that you don't put any unnecessary pressure on the elbows. Raise the dumbbells out to the side until the dumbbells are are shoulder height. Going any higher than that will engage the traps. Lower the dumbbells slowly and repeat!
Another great exercise for the shoulders is the dumbbell overhead press. Again, this exercise is very versatile. You can use dumbbells, you can use a barbell, you can do it seated or standing, even single arm!
Similar to the lateral raise, make sure you start small. You are lifting weights above your head, so if you go too heavy and something goes wrong, then your head is catching that weight... and that's never a good thing.
For the dumbbell overhead press, start seated and with light weights. Bring the dumbbells to about ear height and out to the side of your head. You can either face your palms forward, OR face your palms towards your ears. Engage the core so you do not arch your back, and press the dumbbells straight up overhead. Lower the dumbbells back to the starting position and repeat!
time to raise the roof
Along with those two exercises, here are a few other options for you to train the vertical push movement pattern.
I hope this blog has been helpful! Next up is the vertical pull muscles. Similar to how I loved talking about the importance of horizontal pull muscles, I think that your vertical pull muscles are super important, so keep an eye out for that blog going live in a few days!
Happy vertical pushing!
"Do something good for your body today"
Riri's Discoveries blog documents Riri's most recent research, her travel adventures, and her personal fitness journey.