Barbell Exercises: Rear Shoulder Barbell Press

A barbell is a single bar that is wide enough to be held with both hands. Most barbells have a fixed set of weights attached to them, but some may have adjustable weights as well. This piece of exercise equipment is a useful one to have at home and can easily be incorporated into a wide variety of different exercises.

One of the best exercises to help develop your shoulder muscles and your pectorals is the rear shoulder barbell press. There are two primary ways to accomplish this exercise, but the easier one and the safer of the two is to make use of a mounted rack where you can set up the barbell. However, if you are hoping to do this exercise at home but don’t have a rack of this type, you can also accomplish the exercise with a barbell and an adjustable exercise bench.

1. Exercise Basics

The basic position for this exercise requires that you lift up the barbell on the mounted rack or that you sit on the edge of the adjustable bench with the barbell behind you, if you won’t use a rack. Sit with your back straight and tilted slightly forward, and place your feet shoulder-width apart and flat on the floor to brace yourself. Hold the barbell behind your back with your palms facing forward and your fingers in an overhead grip.

To execute the exercise itself, continue by holding your gaze forward as you press the barbell up above your head with both hands. Move your arms in an even and slow motion so that you can fully exercise muscles in both arms and shoulders. Stop before you’ve fully extended your elbows and gradually bring the barbell back down to the resting position. This constitutes a single repetition of the exercise.

2. Safety and Injury Prevention

The basics of safety for exercising with weights apply to the rear shoulder barbell press. Be sure to breathe continuously as you lift the barbell. Hold it steady with both hands and use a spotter to help ensure that you don’t drop the weight, if that is something that is of concern to you. Begin with a lighter weight and gradually work your way up to heavier ones as you feel more and more comfortable with the exercise. Additionally, it’s a good idea to stretch all of the muscles involved before and after you complete the rear shoulder barbell press.

3. Modifications

Many people find that they have better control over this exercise and of both arms and shoulders if they substitute in different dumbbells for the barbell. You can also mix in a standard shoulder barbell press, which involves the resting position with the barbell in front of your head. This works a slightly different muscle group and can be a nice complement to the standard rear shoulder barbell press exercise as explained in detail above.

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