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Doing standing shoulder presses, I'm very cautious not to learn backwards during the lift. My training partner and I specifically watch each other for this.

However even without weights when my upper body is upright, my lumbar region is already hyperlordotic. It's something I've been working on eliminating lately.

Two days ago during my second standing press workset, something popped under my left shoulder blade on a rep I was having trouble completing and pushing too hard.

It didn't hurt but it didn't feel right so I stopped the workout. That night was agony though, as was the next day, but it's getting better now two days later.

During overhead presses, I can feel my core under enormous pressure, like it's trying so hard to stop that lordotic curve increasing. I'm currently shoulder pressing 125 pounds, which I've slowly worked up to in a 3x5 fashion, increasing 2.5 pounds each time. I failed to do three sets of five the previous week at the same weight, managing only 3, 5 and 5.

I warm up before lifting with about 15 minutes of Cressey/Robertson's Magnificent Mobility mixed in with some hip flexor stretches and foam rolling.

Should I go to seated presses, fix the hyperlordosis or strengthen something else before doing presses again? Or simply not strain too hard to finish a tough rep?

  • Are you sure that you are hyperlordotic and that it isn't just your natural curvature? – JohnP Jul 2 '14 at 14:33
  • Not 100% sure but two health professionals (physio and pilates) have immediately said I am. It's also extremely obvious visually with the protruding gut/bum. – jontyc Jul 3 '14 at 0:23
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To me, it sounds like you also need to be working on your upper thoracic mobility. This should also help with the hyperlordosis as the two areas are connected. Between them both, you can really correct your posture. When you warm up, also make sure your shoulders are properly warmed up as well. A couple warmup routines include (just pick one to use):

In the mean time, I would forgo pressing of any kind (bench and overhead) at the moment. If the pain doesn't subside after 4-5 days, see a doctor and follow their rehab advice. Otherwise, once the pain subsides, I recommend performing the Diesel Shoulder Rehab protocol. After the rehab protocol, take some weight off the bar and build back up (perhaps down to 105). Focus on the following:

  • Get as tight as you possibly can. Abs, glutes, quads, lats, etc. all work together to provide a stable platform to press from.
  • Initiate the lift with your lats. Essentially, I'm using my back muscles to get the bar off my shoulder.
  • Don't let the elbows flare out. This helps protect the shoulders, and results in a stronger lift (also engages the pecs a bit).

NOTE: some layback is fine. Just don't overdo it to the point where your back is in a weaker position. The only competition that has restrictions on how the bar gets overhead would be Olympic lifting. Everything else allows you to use whatever form you need to get it up. The important thing is that you do it in a way where you don't cause yourself injuries.

It sounds like you are following the Starting Strength protocol, which is typically a good program for healthy person. Unfortunately, you'll probably have to alter some things to help your shoulders out.

At the end of the overhead press day, add in the following:

  • Front raises, 5x20 (build up to it if necessary)
  • Rear delt raises, 5x20 (build up to it if necessary)

At the end of the bench press day, add in the following:

  • Dumbbell rows, 3x8-12 with the elbows out (should be a minor challenge)

These exercises will help strengthen and stabilize the shoulder area. I've seen some really great improvement in my overhead pressing by applying Kalle Beck's shoulder warmup (Starting Strongman), and the assistance exercises I've listed. Don't major on the minors, these are here just to assist your shoulder health and upper back strength. Both of those will help in bigger pressing and feeling a lot better after training.

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  • Sounds very appropriate and will definitely start on your suggestions. Also will notice if I've been initiating with lats and watch elbows as I haven't been noticing. Layback: I can't lean back much more without putting my back in what feels a dangerous position. The lumbar is excessively curved just from standing upright. – jontyc Jul 3 '14 at 0:39

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