When you're really ready to strengthen your shoulders, don't stop at the overhead press. Try a couple of these variations.
1 – Banded Shoulder Press Off Pins
You can strategically target individual sticking points by using pins. You can also choose to work in partial ranges of motion which are easier to recover from. In this case, we're using the shoulder press in a submaximal strength setting.
Add accommodating resistance (bands in this case) and you have an amazing tool to not only build your lockout and triceps, but also boulder shoulders!
Do each rep from a dead-stop so you're not using the assistance of the stretch-shortening cycle. Do 4-6 sets of 5-6 reps.
2 – Landmine Bilateral Press
The landmine is arguably one of the best ways to press because you aren't limited by any potential lack of thoracic extension.
When done bilaterally, it increases loading capacity and allows for more consistent time under tension compared to its unilateral counterpart. Do 3-4 sets of 10-15 reps.
3 – Dumbbell Hang Power Snatch, Neutral Grip
Explosive movements are a great way to prime the sympathetic nervous system prior to training. If you're doing them on an upper-body day, the neutral-grip dumbbell hang power snatch is a great option. Do 5-6 sets of 2-3 reps for each side.
4 – Dumbbell Push Press, Neutral Grip
This is a great option for those with pre-existing shoulder issues. These same folks typically struggle with a barbell since the positioning is quite different. The simple change in hand position changes the kinematics of the movement enough that people can press overhead without exacerbating current limitations.
I use this often for CrossFitters instead of a barbell push press. Do 4-5 sets of 8-10 reps.
5 – Bamboo Bar Shoulder Press
The bamboo bar is a game-changer for a variety of movements. If you don't have one, just affix two 5-10 pound plates or kettlebells to your standard barbell with a light band to achieve the same oscillatory effect.
The oscillations challenge stability of the delts, but also the anterior core. This is important because maintaining a neutral spine while doing an overhead press is tough for some, but this variation encourages better overall position.
The oscillations also create a pump from hell. Longer sets will greatly affect cell pH levels and yield hydrogen ion accumulation. That coach-speak just means that it causes a ton of muscle burn. Do 3-4 sets of 20-25 reps.