Improving Overhead Strength & Stability

Improving Overhead Strength & Stability

One of the most frequent questions I’m asked by the fitness athletes that I work with is how to improve overhead stability, as they feel weak during movements such as overhead squats, snatches, and jerks.

For most of these athletes, a focus on strengthening the muscles of the upper back for overhead stability is needed. Typically there is a strength imbalance between the muscles that can pull the barbell forward (the large pecs and lats) and the smaller upper back muscles that can keep the barbell pulled back. This imbalance leads to athletes not being optimally stable overhead and missing lifts.


Wall Slides

Wall slides are a great exercise for activating the serratus anterior, an incredibly important muscle for improving scapular stability.


Prone Lift Offs

This deceiving exercise will make your upper back muscles hate you! This is one of my favorites for showing athletes how truly weak their upper backs are.

Many athletes also have full shoulder PASSIVE range of motion but lack ACTIVE motion. This exercise is a great corrective for them to get their active motion back to full.


Overhead Carries

There are many overhead-carrying variations and they are all great. This variation makes the shoulder and thoracic musculature work even harder due to the huge amount of instability the resistance bands create during the walk.


Face Pull Y Press with Overhead Squat

This is one of my favorite upper back exercises and makes a great warm up movement. The upper back muscles get worked big time with this exercise. The forward pull of the band also lets the athlete push their hips back further during the descent, allowing this exercise to also help correct another common motor control dysfunction seen in the squat with athletes shifting their weight too far forward. I typically have an athlete perform one face pull y press to every two squats, performing 2 sets of 6.


Pattern Assisted Reach, Roll, & Lift

The reach, roll, & lift is a killer exercise to improve end range shoulder stability. The resistance band used in this video provides a little assistance for the athlete who cannot perform the movement without help. Read more about this exercise in THIS previous article.