Here it is written, about the Overhead Press, that

At the bottom position, you need to be initiating the press in something called the scapular plane. Such that at the bottom position your elbows are pointed slightly forward, or in other words at roughly a 30 degree angle from directly sideways.

enter image description here

First question: is the choice of working in the scapular plane made to reduce shoulder impingement (like in lateral raises)? If it is, can you explain me why? Does having a 30 degree angle between the elbows and the frontal plane creates space between the humerous and the AC joint for the rotator cuff tissues?

enter image description here

Then, always there, it is written that:

Then only as you press up should you naturally allow your elbows to turn out to the side.

In summary, you should start with your elbows in the scapular plane. But then, gradually during the movement, they will slowly start pointing outwards (first picture below) and will continue pointing outwards at the top (second picture below).

enter image description here

Second question: why is this necessary? Why can't we continue the movement with our elbows in the scapular plane?

Third question: How can we avoid shoulder impingement? Here it is written to shrug at the top, since this will create space between the humerus head and the AC joint for the rotator cuff tissues. That is fine, but what about the rest of the way up (it is written to shrug at the top, not during the way up).

A situation like this:

enter image description here

seems to me quite similar (from the elbows point of view) to this in the bench press

enter image description here

except for the fact that in the overhead press the forearms are rotated backwards compared to the bench press scenario. Is this that avoids shoulder impingement?

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    The trick is to act like you're pushing a floor above you, rather than pushing a bar up . Think of the bar as an imaginary trap ceiling coming down on you and you're trying to push it away. This mindset makes you use your low traps more rather than pushing arms out of "comfort zone". – Ace Cabbie Jun 19 at 21:14

I see that you have multiple questions. I can't help you with all of them, but I can help with the main question you have i.e. avoiding shoulder issues when overhead pressing.

I have supraspinatous tendinosis on my right shoulder from strain and bad form. Thanks to this, I can tell when any exercise I'm doing has bad form, because my shoulder pain immediately flares up. When overhead pressing, I've found the most helpful tip is that you should pinch your shoulder blades together before you start (and during the movement) exactly like the scapular pullup (google it). That gets rid of the pain and I wish I'd been doing that earlier.


One suggestion is to remember your forearms must be perpendicular to the ground, no incline either forward or backwards.

About the change in plane on the top. That's to get full range of movement, if you retain the scapular plane you aren't able to get to full extension of the muscles, which is always what you should aim at.

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  • Try to give some resource links for your tips. – Chuck Jul 20 at 18:31
  • Added a link. The suggestion is based on the recommendation on the orignal article, that's a way to do it. Finally, why don't you add the same comment to the other no link supplied answer? – Paribus Ceteris Jul 20 at 20:44
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    They gave a recommendation based on their own experience. Your answer implied it was based off of research. – Chuck Jul 20 at 20:55
  • Where do you see anything about lifting the scapula in the article provided? – Chuck Jul 20 at 20:59
  • Mistake 4 there was about the full range of motion. I've added another article that explains that lockout on top is part of proper form, sadly it doesn't show research about it. – Paribus Ceteris Jul 21 at 5:00

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