Properly performed, every exercise has value, but the more difficult variations provide the biggest benefit. It's human nature to take the easy way out, but sometimes it's worth pushing a little harder to achieve exponentially greater rewards.
Compare a Seated Dumbbell Overhead Press to a Standing Dumbbell Push Press. Both are good variations, but standing and using leg drive to press the weight overhead works more muscle and accomplishes more in the same amount of time.
Don't dread the movements that challenge you the most. Embrace them. Use them to target your weak points and learn more about your body. This approach will make you bigger and stronger in long run.
Here are upper-body exercise variations worth the extra effort.
The Z Press is an advanced overhead press that eliminates the need for assistance from your legs. This puts more emphasis on your shoulders and core, and forces you to maintain good form.
You should be mobile enough to keep your upper spine extended with enough core strength to prevent rounding forward from your lower back. Don't expect to lift your normal shoulder press weight, because this is a tough variation.
Single-Arm Dumbbell Push Press
Performing a Push Press with just one dumbbell lets you use both of your legs to support one of your arms. This allows you to use a heavier load and increases the effectiveness of the exercise.
Use a neutral grip and engage your entire body to drive the weight straight overhead. Holding the load above you takes a lot of core and shoulder strength, so brace your abs and create tension by squeezing the dumbbell handle as hard as possible.
TRX Handstand Push-Ups
This is a great bodyweight exercise, which requires shoulder stability and strength to perform correctly. Use caution when setting up for this one; do not take it to complete muscular failure. Make sure you have strength left at the end of the set to walk your hands in safely.
If you're uncomfortable doing a free handstand, this is a great movement because the TRX serves as a guide to keep you in the right position. It's hard, but it will significantly benefit your upper body.
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