The overhead press is one of the most popular exercises used for building upper body strength. But it’s not just any old exercise; it requires a specific technique and skill set. To make things worse, there are many misconceptions about how to perform the lift correctly, which makes the whole thing even harder than it needs to be!
Let me tell you right now: if you don’t have the basics down, your overhead press will look like a piece of cake compared to someone with proper form. So let’s clear up some myths so that everyone can get back to training hard and getting results!
THE MYTHS ABOUT THE OVERHEAD PRESS
The following are five common overhead press myths that need clearing up before we move on to other topics…
MYTH #1: You Should Only Do One Exercise For Your Upper Body Each Workout
I’m sure you’ve heard this one before. I certainly have. And while it may seem logical at first glance, the truth is that doing two or three different exercises each workout isn’t necessarily going to give you better results than just performing one exercise per muscle group every time. Here’s why…
Exercise selection is very important, but it’s not the be-all and end-all of muscle growth. The main thing that makes the difference is progressive overload: that is, consistently giving your body a reason to grow stronger and larger so that it does.
So if you do a lot of heavy bench pressing, then your body is going to get used to that movement. Your body will also get used to the range of motion and the specific muscles it’s targeting. That’s why it’s beneficial to perform a different exercise for the same muscle group each time you train it.
However, that’s not the whole story. While muscle growth is ultimately based on progressive overload, there are many different ways to go about it. In fact, there are so many different variables to take into account (such as volume, exercise selection, rep speed, rest periods, training frequency, and so on), that it would take an entire book to discuss all of them.
For now, let’s just focus on one in particular: exercise selection. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t always have to change up the exercises you perform for a muscle group each time you train it.
For example, let’s say your main goal is to build up your triceps so that they’re huge and prominent. One day, you could perform bench dips for your triceps. Another day, you could do close grip bench presses. And on another day, you could do overhead extensions (also known as shoulder presses). Provided that you’re taking a day or two of rest in between each workout and working different muscles, your body will have no choice but to progress and change.
Of course, exercise selection is still very important. But when you find a good exercise for a muscle group that you like, there’s no reason that you always have to change it up! As long as you keep progressing, you should be fine. And as long as you’re using proper form, there’s no reason that you can’t continue to build that exercise for months or even years on end.
MYTH #2: Your Lower Body Muscles Should Be Stronger Than Your Upper Body Muscles
This myth is a hold over from an era when people believed that the upper body was just “there” for decoration and that the real strength of a man was in his large, powerful legs. While this may be true to an extent, there’s a common misconception that your legs should be significantly stronger than your upper body.
And while it’s certainly true that your legs are much more powerful than your arms and that you should be able to lift more weight with your legs, the idea that they should be “much” stronger is a little bit off. As I’ve said before, exercise selection can have a large impact on the relative strength of different muscle groups.
For example, if you do a lot of lunges, your legs are going to be significantly stronger than your upper body no matter how hard you try. But even if you train your legs and upper body with equal volume and intensity, chances are your legs will still be somewhat stronger than your upper body. And that’s perfectly fine! Having strong legs is an advantage when it comes to things like sprinting and jumping, so there’s really no reason to have to train them “less” because your upper body isn’t as strong.
What’s more, this myth probably originates from old school powerlifters who believed that the only important measurement was how much you could squat. As a result, they built their training regimens around the squat, and neglected other exercises like the bench press. (To be fair, the bench press isn’t exactly a leg exercise either! But they still neglected it in favor of the squat)
The fact of the matter is, every muscle group is important, and you should train them all in an intelligent manner. If you have a weak upper body but a strong lower body, that’s perfectly fine! Just keep busting your butt in the gym and eventually your upper body strength will catch up. (It may be a little harder for some people to achieve than others, but that’s just life)
MYTH #3: You Can Target Fat Loss to Certain Parts of Your Body
One of the most persistent myths in the world of fitness is the idea that it’s possible to target fat loss to specific areas of your body. This idea probably comes from the concept of “spot reduction” which is the idea that you can specifically burn fat in a specific area of your body by doing extra exercises for that part. (Example: Doing a bunch of crunches to burn the fat off your belly)
Unfortunately, this isn’t how it works and if it was, we’d all be perfect human specimens with perfect hourglass figures! The reality is that when you exercise, you create a temporary deficit in your energy levels. (Your body burns more calories than you take in) This deficit then causes your body to start burning fat in a “systemic” manner.
In other words, your body decides that the best way to even things out is to burn fat from all over your body. As a result, you lose weight/fat everywhere. There’s no preferential treatment towards any specific area of your body.
You may have noticed that when you eat less and exercise more, you lose weight everywhere…and not just your belly (if that’s even where you store the most fat). This is proof that your body is just burning fat all over. It’s not like it’s harvesting all the excess fat on your belly and burning that first, then moving on to other places like your arms or legs.
What’s more, spot reduction (as explained earlier) is impossible. The process in which your body decides which fat cells to burn first is a complex one and can’t be manipulated.
I mean, think about it…is it really possible that by doing 50 crunches you can “shut down” the fat cells in your belly and make them stop storing fat? What happens if you don’t use those muscles again? Will the fat come back?
No, it most likely will not. Even if you don’t exercise at all and keep a consistent energy deficit, your body will take its sweet time breaking down fat cells. This is one of the reasons why maintaining a proper diet and exercise routine is so important…to speed up this process!
MYTH #4: You Can Lose Weight by “Popping” Bladder Worms
This is one of those urban myths that’s been around for quite some time. As the story goes, women would drink a lot of soda and develop “bladder worms,” which they could then pop into their mouths and easily get rid of. I can’t even begin to tell you how disgusted I was when I first heard about this.
That being said, this is a perfect example of the kind of story that has “urban myth” written all over it.
Because nobody can provide any sort of evidence to back it up!
This story seems to have originated on some “Worst Case Scenarios” site and from there it spread like wildfire across the internet. However, nobody seems to know who the original “source” was…which is a telltale sign that this is probably a work of fiction. In fact, there’s no real evidence that “bladder worms” even exist in the first place!
The closest thing to real evidence is an image that has circulated on the internet for quite some time. The idea is that this poor woman supposedly had a severe case of “bladder worms” and had to get a surgical operation to remove them. However, even this image has been proven to be fake.
A photo editing software program (like Photoshop) was used to add the worms, and thus turn this picture into a work of fiction.
Someone really spent a lot of time and effort to make up this ” bladder worm” urban myth, huh?
MYTH #4: You Can Lose Weight by “Popping” Bladder Worms…
So, there you have it – 4 common fitness myths, BUSTED! While I do hope that this article dispels these myths for you so that you can get on with your training, I also hope that it doesn’t discourage you from reading more about fitness in general.
Sources & references used in this article:
Politics of collegiality: Retrenchment strategies in Canadian universities by C Hardy – 1996 – books.google.com