Stand up I S.A.I.D.

Posted on April 4, 2011. Filed under: Exercise | Tags: , , , , , |

As part of being honest with my self and those who read my blog.  I have been posting my workouts, or to be more honest at the current moment, my workout experiment 😉


And the other day I was talking about what I was doing and someone asked, “you don’t like doing seated presses?”


In a word, no.


Biases up front, I see no benefit to doing seated presses.  As I mentioned before in a previous blog like all coaches I am prejudiced against certain exercises based on my background and experiences.  Yes, all coaches are exercise-prejudiced.  I’m just one of the few who openly, and happily, admits it.


Why the prejudice?  I don’t find seated presses to give me anything that standing presses don’t do better.


A  standing shoulder or military press is a powerful exercise. Everything works and works hard.


Done properly it is an excellent exercise for a strong healthy  bodies. It can be rough on the lumbar and occasionally thoracic spine  when maxing weight or reps.  So form must be done correctly.


The only reason to do seated presses is if you are going for a high volume in order to develop your shoulders for an aesthetic reason.  Or if physical limitations prevent you from doing standing exercises for long periods of time.

The reason I feel this way is quite frankly, we spend way too much time sitting already.  Why would you want to sit during a workout at all?


There is a principle in the Sports Sciences called the S.A.I.D. principle.  It stands for Specific Adaptations to Imposed Demands. Which simply means that if a person is put under a physical stress the body will attempt to overcome the stress by adapting specifically to the imposed demands


This is seen as a core reference for Strength and Conditioning coaches.  And is generally easy to grasp.  If you wanted to train to play football, I will never have you run a distance.  There would be no point to it.  In the course of your sport you will never run further than 100 yards or longer than 20 seconds.  And even that would be pushing it time wise.  So I train you for the functions of the sport you wish to improve on.  Get it?


What many overlook is that life is a physical activity itself.  And those physical habits, good or bad, add up.


Many clients I have worked with, across the board, athlete or cubicle worker, have horrible shoulder stability.  The rotator cuff is weak, posture is overly rounded, and the range of motion is cringe-worthy.


Add in for most who work in a seated work position 8+ hours a day, 5-7 days a week.  And now you have a weakened core, short hip flexors, weak glutes, the list goes on and on.


So if you are my client, the last thing I want you to do is work out in a seated position to further reinforce these muscle imbalances.


A standing press doesn’t just work on your shoulders, it challenges your core stability, it recruits your glutes, it brings your whole upper body together to work as a unit.


Stand holding dumbbells on your shoulders, palms facing forward, maintain perfect posture with belly button pulled in and shoulder-blade pulled back and down.


So let’s walk through it.  I’m not going to go into too much detail here as I think most people have the general idea.  They just have to mentally cue themselves to maintain form.  Also I have a few “tweaks’ which you might not be familiar with.

  • If you are able to, press in your socks.  I know this sounds odd but I am big believer in proprioception, and the importance of body awareness.  I will go in to further detail on this later on.
  • If you are new to pressing, use dumbbells.  This will probably require you to start of with a lighter weight than you previously planned to lift with.  That’s a good thing.
  • Don’t press from a rack.  Again, biases up front, my clientele does not usually need a maxed out weight or volume for a standing press alone.  More so the health benefits that come with strong pressing.  Based on that, if they can’t get the weight to their shoulders, they shouldn’t be lifting it.  They can swing or clean it up, if need be.  But they need to control the weight from start to finish.
  • Step away from the mirror.  If you are looking at a mirror while pressing, stop it, stop it now.  Find a space with no mirror.  Again, this for body awareness.  I wish I had a study for this but there isn’t any.  This is based on experience.  The less you rely on your eyes when you lift, the better off you will be.  I often try to find a singular focus point not related to me or close my eyes when lifting.


It’s amazing, I say I will try not to get too detailed, and I haven’t even got to lifting the weight yet.  A few more tips though.

  • Squeeze the weight like you are trying to crush it.  This will allow you recruit a greater amount of muscle fibers, and promote greater stability in your lift
  • Maintain perfect posture, with chest out and shoulder blades pulled back and down.  Think superhero, strong and proud
  • Keep the  glutes tight.  That’s right, squeeze the glutes while you press.  this will give greater stability to your lower back and overall core.
  • When you press, lean forward, push up and slightly back.  Most people have a tendency to press slightly forward.  This is natural as your body will look for the path of least resistance.  Don’t let it.  Stay tight and strong.  What feels like slightly back usually ends up being directly over head.  If you are unsure have a coach or someone qualified watch you from the side.  They can tell you the path the weight is traveling.

Whenever possible I encourage you to train on your feet.  Your body will be the better for it.



Best Health,

Coach W


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