Shoulder Presses Ain't for Delts, Only! Standing, Seated w/ BB or DB, They Also Hammer the Core, Biceps & Triceps
|Flex Wheeler doing BB presses in what vcertainly isn't the ideal position for the lower back - imagine him doing that standing *uhoh*
SuppVersity Science Round Up - Preview
Just like today's blogpost the focus of today's Science Round Up is actually going to be on training and exercise and don't worry, we won't just be whimpering that people get way too less of it.
- Twin study shows: We all age, but exercise determines the consequences on your health
- Hormonally (over-)demanding plyometrics!?
- HIIT, light intensity steady state and the thyroid gland
- NSAIDs: Go or no go for an athlete interested to build muscle?
- Glucose, insulin and their muscle building effects
- Could your own sweat protect you from skin cancer?
- Chinese medicine strikes again: P. Lobata stops liver fibrosis in its tracks
- Non-reactive form of vitamin E could be gold standard for cancer therapy
Back to where we came from: The shoulder press!
After the obligatory heads up on the potential topics of today's SuppVersity Science Round Up, let's now get back to the shoulder press. Even if you did miss the facebook post on how it activates the abs, the obliques and the lower back, the other day, you should remember from the SuppVersity EMG Series that different forms of the shoulder press (including behind the neck presses, which are not part of the study at hand) will yield differential activation patters in the musculature of the shoulder girdle.
|Navigate the SuppVersity EMG Series - Click on the desired body part to see the optimal exercises.
With the auxiliary muscles, the body position, the loading modality (measured during sets of 5 reps at 80%) and the maximal weight the participants were able to press in each of the four 1RM max attempts Saeterbakken and Fjmland's data on the shoulder presses, alone, is therefore about as extensive as Boeckh-Berhens' and Buskies' data on four or five totally different exercises. Plus their subjects, 22y old lifters with on average 5 years of training experience may be a better model for at least some of you.
|Figure 1: Activity pattern of the deltoid and auxiliary muscles (* indicated p < 0.05; data based on Saeterbakken. 2012)
For those who missed the original Facebook post on the first Saeterbakken study (Saeterbakken. 2011), here is a brief summary: Using electromyographic activity (EMG) of the superficial core muscles (i.e. rectus abdominis, external oblique and erector spinae) and comparing the data of seated, standing, bilateral and unilateral dumbbell shoulder presses the researchers found that their 15 healthy male study participants had the greatest core activitation, when they performed their five repetitions at 80% of one-repetition maximum...Just as in the unofficial prequel to this 2nd study by Saeterbakken and Fimland I discussed on Facebook earlier this week (see box to the right for a summary, if you don't want Facebook and the world to know the color of the boxer shorts you're wearing, today), the overall pattern that emerges from this very recent follow up study is that ...
- rectus abdominis (abs)
- standing unilaterally
- external oblique
- standing unilaterally
- erector spinae (lower back) - standing unilaterally
"[...] the standing dumbbell press exercise, which was the exercise with the greatest stability requirement (standing + dumbbells), demonstrated the highest neuromuscular activity of the deltoid muscles." (Saeterbakken. 2012)Now what's particularly intriguing to this result is that the superiority of the complex movements became obvious despite the fact that the subjects moved the least weight during this exercise. In the aforementioned study by Boeckh-Behrens & Buskies, for example, the exercises which allowed the greatest leverages, usually produced the highest muscular activity, as well.
How can we explain this difference?
Aside from the training status of the participants, the first thing that comes to mind is the rep range: While the subjects in the study at hand trained at a 5RM rep range (meaning they failed on rep 5), the sports students in the Boeckh-Behrens & Buskies study performed 10-12 reps and would thus necessarily have to use lighter weights. In conseuqence, every lbs more made a greater difference for the students, than for the 15 even-aged healthy men with an average of five years of strength training experience under their belts (they were no competitive powerlifters or o-lifters, though), who participated in the studies by Saeterbakken & Fjimland.
As far as the other parameter, the body position, was concerned the results are not as obvious as they were for the core muscles in the 2011 study by the same authors:
"Further, standing versus seated execution, and to some extent dumbbells versus barbell, both resulted in increased muscle activation of the deltoid muscles. Standing instead of seated presses raises the centre of the mass, and also provides a smaller base of support as the contact points decreases from three to two, particularly when using a bench with a back-rest [comment: the back was set to 75°]. When using a pair of dumbbells instead of a barbell, the main difference is that the dumbbells must be controlled independently of each other. Hence, performing shoulder presses standing and with dumbbells should lead to greater instability." ( Saeterbakken. 2012)Regardless of the intricate differences, though, the whole picture that emerges from the synopsis of both the 2011 and 2012 data Saeterbakken and Fjimland have collected is actually quite clear: Complex exercises and corresponding muscle activation patterns can make a very valuable tool in the arsenal of the experienced strength trainee.
A final word of caution and the real world difference you can expect
|Are you looking for more shoulder exercises? Look no further read them up in the SuppVersity EMG Series and the respective part on the 'best' exercises for M. Deltoideus, M. Infraspinatus, Supraspinatus and Teres Minor (more...)
- Boeckh-Behrens WU, Buskies W. Fitness-Krafttraining. Rohwolt. 2010.
- Saeterbakken AH, Fimland MS. Muscle activity of the core during bilateral, unilateral, seated and standing resistance exercise. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2012 May;112(5):1671-8. Epub 2011 Aug 30.
- Saeterbakken AH, Fimland MS. Effects of body position and loading modality on muscle activity and strength in shoulder presses. J Strength Cond Res. 2012 Oct 23.