Overhead Press Alternatives for Shoulder, Triceps, and Upper Back Muscles

Overhead Press Alternatives for Shoulder, Triceps, and Upper Back Muscles

The overhead press is an upper-body and core exercise for athletes, bodybuilders, and weightlifters that targets the pectorals, deltoids, triceps, and trapezius muscles. Although this exercise can be modified for beginners who are new to the gym, such as using bodyweight overhead press alternatives and kettlebell overhead press alternatives, the overhead press is a foundational movement to build pushing strength, overhead strength, shoulder strength, and upper-body power for advanced users.

The main muscle groups worked during the overhead press include the pectoralis major, pectoralis minor, anterior deltoids, posterior deltoids, triceps brachii, trapezius, and biceps brachii. This overhead pressing exercise is essential for athletes who use their arms during their sports, such as swimming, baseball, football, and lacrosse. 

An overhead press alternative is another exercise that can be used instead of the overhead press, targeting similar muscles. There are numerous overhead press alternatives that can work for beginners and other users who need to tax muscles to a different degree. Sometimes, alternatives can be used to help those who have specific needs. In terms of overhead press alternatives, users can focus on finding options that work to tax their shoulders, chest, or triceps more so than the traditional version.

Some of the most common overhead press alternatives for beginners include the dumbbell shoulder press, machine shoulder press, and front plate raise. Some advanced options for other users include the dumbbell Arnold press, landmine press, single-arm dumbbell push press, and z-press. 

1. Dumbbell Shoulder Press

The dumbbell shoulder press is an overhead press alternative for the shoulder pain that works the anterior deltoids, posterior deltoids, pectoralis muscles, triceps brachii, and biceps brachii. This exercise is suitable for those who do not have enough grip or forearm strength to grip a barbell and want to work on unilateral strength.

Alternatives of this exercise include the barbell shoulder press, dumbbell front raise, dumbbell lateral raise, machine shoulder press, and dumbbell Arnold press. One mistake to avoid during this exercise is not going through a full range of motion. Users can prevent the error by bringing their dumbbells down to shoulder height and locking out their elbows at the top of the range of motion.

The toughness level of this exercise is a 4 out of 10 since it requires very little knowledge in regards to form and beginners and using lightweight dumbbells. 

2. Machine Shoulder Press 

The machine shoulder press is a machine overhead press alternative that works the anterior deltoids, posterior deltoids, biceps brachii, triceps brachii, trapezius, and pectoralis muscles. This exercise is suitable for those who do not feel comfortable using free weights, like dumbbells or barbells and want to use a machine that is safer and does not require as much core stabilization. 

Machine Shoulder Press Correct Form

Alternatives of this exercise include the lateral dumbbell raise, front dumbbell raise, overhead barbell press, overhead dumbbell press, single-arm dumbbell press, single-arm kneeling dumbbell press, and kneeling barbell press. One mistake to avoid during this exercise is moving your head off the pad. Users can prevent this mistake by keeping their hands on the handlebars and their back and head supported against the backrest. 

The toughness level of this exercise is a 3 out of 10 since the user’s body will be supported the entire time, and the machine is on a track to avoid any miscues in form. 

3. Dumbbell Arnold Press

The dumbbell Arnold press is a dumbbell overhead press alternative that works the posterior, lateral, and anterior deltoids, along with the pectoralis muscles and core. This exercise, due to a rotation, works every angle of the shoulder more so than the other overhead pressing exercises. 

Alternatives of the dumbbell Arnold press include the rotation bicep curl, overhead tricep press, lateral dumbbell raise, single-arm push press, landmine press, dumbbell raise combo, front plate raise, and barbell overhead press. One mistake to avoid during this exercise is not rotating your wrists. Users can prevent this mistake by looking at proper form and counting breaths during the exercise.

The toughness level of the Dumbbell Arnold Press is a 4 out of 10 since it requires more coordination and neuromuscular activation than other overhead pressing exercises. 

4. Landmine Press

The landmine press is an upper-body exercise that is a barbell overhead press alternative to the shoulders, chest, and triceps. This exercise is beneficial for athletes since it works the core, glutes, and upper back to help stabilize the weight and avoid any excess movement. 

Alternatives to this exercise include the single-arm landmine press, single-arm overhead press, push press, dumbbell push press, and single-arm kettlebell push press. One mistake to avoid during this exercise is to arch your upper back. Users can prevent this mistake by pushing with their legs and keeping an upright chest.

The toughness level of this exercise is 4 out of 10 since it requires more upper-body power than other exercises. 

5. Single Arm Dumbbell Push Press

The single-arm dumbbell push press is an alternating dumbbell overhead press that is an overhead press alternative. This exercise is beneficial for athletes since it helps with one-sided strength and can correct any imbalances. This exercise works the deltoids, pectoralis muscles, upper back, legs, hips, and core. 

Alternatives to this exercise include the single-arm kettlebell push press, two-arm barbell push press, overhead strict dumbbell press, overhead strict barbell press, and lateral raise. One mistake to avoid during this exercise is to not lock out your arms at the end of the movement. Users can prevent this mistake by pushing with their legs and using their hips to explosively move the weight overhead. 

The toughness level of this exercise is a 5 out of 10 since it requires both upper and lower body coordination and strength. 

6. Dumbbell Raise Combo

The dumbbell raise combo is an overhead press alternative that works both the anterior and posterior shoulders. Since this combination is an overhead press alternative that works all angles of these boulders, this is a good prehab exercise for athletes who want to avoid injury in their sports. 

Alternatives of this exercise include the front raise, lateral dumbbell raise, front plate raise, barbell overhead press, dumbbell overhead press, and cable upright row. One mistake to avoid during this exercise is using body momentum to move the weights. Users can prevent this mistake by keeping their legs bent and their elbows not locked out during the movement.

The toughness level of this exercise is a4 out of 10 since it requires more muscular endurance than other exercises. 

7. Front Plate Raise

The front plate raise is one of the alternatives to the overhead press that works the anterior deltoids. Since the user will have the plate in front of their body, this will tax the anterior chain of muscles more so than the posterior chain. This exercise is good for weightlifters and bodybuilders who want to build the font of their shoulders. 

Alternatives of this exercise include a front raise barbell, lateral dumbbell raise, dumbbell raise combo, landmine press, and dumbbell overhead press. One mistake to avoid during this exercise is not to raise your arms evenly. Users can prevent this mistake by moving their arms simultaneously and keeping their chest upright during the motion. 

The toughness level of his exercise is a 4 out of 10 since the form is simple and does not require a heavyweight. 

8. Lateral Raise

The lateral raise is an upper-body alternative to the overhead press that works the sides of the shoulder. This exercise is good for athletes who need to prevent shoulder injuries and overuse injuries. This is also good for bodybuilders and weightlifters who want to build mass in their upper bodies.

Alternatives to this exercise include the cable lateral raise. Dumbbell front raise. Landmine press, overhead barbell press, and dumbbell overhead oppress. One mistake to avoid during this exercise is to lean with your body. Users can prevent this mistake by bracing their core and keeping their arms bent. 

The toughness level of lateral raise is a 4 out of 10 since users may find it tempting to lean with their upper body to raise the weight. 

9. Face Pull

The face pull is an alternative overhead press exercise that works the lateral deltoid, posterior deltoid, teres minor, infraspinatus, and trapezius. This exercise is good for hotels who need to work on their posture and build their posterior chain to balance out the pushing exercise they do during their sports. 

Alternatives of this exercise include a bent-over row, seated cable row, seated machine row, lat pulldown, and lateral raise. One mistake to avoid during this exercise is to lean back with your body. Users can prevent this mistake by only moving their elbows back and retracting the scapula. 

The toughness level of this exercise is a 4 out of 10 since it takes proper form. 

10. Z- Press

The z-press is an alternative to the overhead press that works the abdominals, obliques, upper pectoralis, anterior deltoids, triceps, erector spinae, and scapular stabilizers. This exercise is good for athletes who need to work on upper-body stabilization and weightlifters who need to build their overhead strength. 

Alternatives of this exercise include the standing overhead press, seated dumbbell overhead press, standing cable overhead press, single-arm dumbbell overhead press, and seated barbell overhead press. One mistake to avoid during this exercise is to lean your upper body in one direction. Users can prevent this mistake by bracing their cores and keeping their chests upright. 

The toughness of this exercise is a 6 out of 10 since it requires more core strength and upper body stabilization than other overhead exercises. 

What to know about Overhead Press alternatives?

Overhead press alternatives can be suitable for beginners who cannot use proper form on the traditional version or for advanced users who need to use heavier weight, different variations, or tax specific muscle groups to a higher degree.

Which Overhead Press alternative is beginner-friendly?

The best beginner-friendly overhead press alternatives include the machine shoulder press, front plate raise, overhead press bodyweight alternative, overhead shoulder press alternative, alternating overhead press, and lateral raise. 

Which Overhead Press alternative is better for the shoulder?

The best overhead press alternative for shoulder strength includes the dumbbell shoulder press, dumbbell Arnold press, landmine press, and dumbbell raise combo. 

Which Overhead Press alternative is better for triceps?

The best overhead press alternative for triceps includes the face pull, z-press, and landmine press. 

Which Overhead Press alternative is better for strength?

The best overhead press alternative for total upper-body strength includes the dumbbell shoulder press, landmine press, and z-press. Users should do a 5×5 overhead press alternative for muscular gains. 

When should an athlete use the Overhead Press alternative for exercise?

Athletes may want to use an overhead press alternative so they can work with any existing injuries, perfect the alternate overhead press form, try the alternating arm overhead press, avoid overuse injuries, and work with any mobility limitations. An athlete can try the alternate behind the neck press and overhead press for shoulder strength and mobility. 

Can Overhead Press alternatives replace the Overhead Press?

Overhead Press alternatives cannot fully replace the overhead press, but they can work with similar muscle groups, provide similar muscular activation, and work with the same movement patterns. 

Can Overhead Press alternatives help shoulder pain?

The overhead press alternatives can work to alleviate shoulder pain by placing less stress on shoulder muscles and joints. 

What are the Overhead Press Variations?

Variations of the overhead press include any type of muscle movement that mimics that of the overhead press, but with different form. This is typically acheived by using various equipment, form and angles. Here is the list of variations of overhead press.

  1. Dumbbell Shoulder Press – This overhead press variation is good for building big deltoids, getting wider shoulders, and achieving muscular symmetry. 
  2. Machine Shoulder Press – This overhead press variation is suitable for beginners who want to increase their shoulder, triceps, and trapezius muscles. 
  3. Dumbbell Arnold Press – This overhead press variation is suitable for bodybuilders who want to build their upper-boys strength and create defined shoulders. 
  4. Landmine Press – This overhead press variation is suitable for those who want to try new angles of movement and develop muscles in the chest and shoulders. 
  5. Single Arm Dumbbell Push Press – This overhead press is suitable for athletes who want to get rid of strength imbalances. 
  6. Dumbbell Raise Combo – This overhead press variation is good for avoiding shoulder injuries. 
  7. Front Plate Raise – This overhead press variation is good for increasing your hand and forearms strength. 
  8. Lateral Raise – This overhead press variation is good for strengthening your shoulders and trapezius fibers. 
  9. Face Pull – This overhead press variation is good for improving scapular stability. 
  10. Z- Press – This overhead press variation is good for enhancing pressing stability.
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