Try the Kneeling Band Press for Serious Shoulder Strength

If you have the green light to press overhead, you should definitely give the Kneeling Band Press a try.

When it comes to upper-body exercises, the Military Press is a great choice. That being said, I want to share with you an innovative overhead exercise variation, known as the Kneeling Band Press, a movement that is still surrounded by a lot of heated debate and controversy.

Supporters of the Military Press claim it's supremely high value for developing insanely strong, healthy, defined and functional shoulders. Conversely, critics declare that engaging in overhead work ultimately leads to postural deformities, local injuries, and possible surgical procedures that can shorten lifting careers.

So who's right? To be fair, like many topics in the training industry, the answer lies somewhere in the middle.

Injury history, sport type, individual upper-body structuring, technique, programming factors, and other factors determine how someone responds to overhead training stress. That being said, once you have the green light to press, you should definitely give the Kneeling Band Press a trial run.

There are at least two reasons why I like this exercise so much.

First, bands provide constant tension throughout the entire range of motion of an Overhead Press relative to barbells and dumbbells. The bands are constantly pulling your arms down and reacting in every direction while you perform the exercise, which not only uniquely involves other local muscles in the movement pattern, but also allows less time to relax, causing you to fatigue much quicker. The end result is that if if you are using a moderate to high training volume, you need to lift less weight,  which the shoulder muscles and joints naturally respond better to anyway.

In addition to everything I just mentioned, you get less leg support out of the kneeling position. By default, your core, hips and shoulders have to work harder to carry the workload.

The second reason why the Kneeling Band Press is so effective is because of the rapid increase in resistance that occurs from the start until full lockout. When your arms begin their descent back to the start position, you will find yourself struggling harder to decelerate and control the motion eccentrically—the part of the lift where novice and intermediate level lifters tend to be weak when overheard pressing with other training implements. Also, the lack of tension throughout the pecs, biceps, and shoulders is a major culprit for why people's wrists often ache when they perform any exercise handling a load in the front of the body (e.g., Clean, Front Squat and Military Press). The bands automatically require you to step up your tension production a level or two; otherwise your arms will fall to the floor in a hurry.

How-To:

  • Begin in a tall kneeling position with your glutes held tight, a slight arch in your low back, chest out and neck packed in a neutral position.
  • Use a false grip and place the band directly on top of your palm. Your wrists will appear in a hyperextended position, but the tension will be centered through the joint, causing less pull to nearby connective tissue.
  • Create a sound rack position with your elbows up and facing forward.
  • Contract your shoulder girdle intensely and brace your core.
  • Explode your arms up vertically until you reach full lockout.
  • Hold the top isometrically, then slowly begin to descend to the original start position.
  • Perform 3-5 sets of 8-16 reps depending on the thickness of the band.


Topics: UPPER BODY | CHEST | CLEAN | PRESS | BARBELL | RANGE OF MOTION | SHOULDER MUSCLES