Overhead Alternatives: Diagonal Pressing and Pulling

Overhead Alternatives: Diagonal Pressing and Pulling

I love overhead pressing and pulling but the truth is, most gym-goers have zero business strength training directly overhead.

The three specific populations that I tend to avoid overhead strength training with are clients with history of labrum/rotator cuff issues, those with poor scapulothoracic and glenohumeral function (1 on FMS SM Screen) and throwing athletes.

It’s not to say I won’t ever OH press/Chin Up with some one who once hurt their shoulder or currently plays baseball, you just have to be cautious in your decision making. Rather than putting square pegs in round holes ask yourself:

“Is there a better exercise option that will help me achieve the same result?”

Why does it have to be horizontal or vertical?
Why not somewhere in between?

Enter diagonal pressing and pulling…

1/2 Kneeling X-Pulldown:
I like this exercise more than a traditional pull down because the adduction component does a good job of creating internal rotation at the humerus. Also, since you’re not hanging from your full body weight like in a chin up it also allows for a great environment to teach control of scapular elevation and depression. After mastering the bilateral version I like to progress towards an alternating pulldown with an isometric hold in the bottom position.

1/2 Kneeling Landmine Press:
I find utilizing the 1/2 Kneeling position in this drill can serve as a great teacher of pelvic/spinal stabilization in the sagittal and frontal planes. Much like the X-Pulldown the landmine press allows for natural movement of the scapular something you can’t achieve on a bench press or overhead press. Also, the freedom of movement afforded by the landmine allows more room for postural based progressions. Often, I’ll progress through the following sequence:

Tall Kneeling ➡ 1/2 Kneeling ➡ Standing Bilateral ➡ Standing Split ➡ Dynamic Split Jerk

Give these a go yourself and let me know your thoughts. If you don’t have a landmine attachment pick one up from @perform_better or simply wedge the back end of a barbell into the corner of a room.