This post is a description and video of the landmine press, which is a shoulder-friendly alternative of the overhead shoulder (military) press that I highly recommend to a lot of patients.
If you have difficulty achieving proper overhead position of your arms (which is a lot of people, including myself), then straight overhead pressing (i.e. military press) is an exercise that you shouldn’t be doing. I also recommend this exercise for overhead athletes, as they usually have beat up shoulders from their repetitive sporting activities.
The 90/90 shoulder position during the military press is a rather unstable and potentially dangerous position for your shoulders to be in. Add in a heavy load (dumbbell, barbell, etc) to the inability to get into proper position and you are significantly increasing your risk for injury.
Rather than just eliminating overhead pressing, I recommend people substitute in the landmine press which works similar muscles as the military press, but with less stress on the shoulder joint/structures. There is less stress on the shoulder joint because the pressing motion is not directly overhead and the path that your arm travels is a “freer,” less restricted path. It is less restricted due to the fact that your arm isn’t locked into a certain path (like with a barbell or a machine), the plane of motion you move your shoulder in is anatomically less restricted, and because the shoulder blades are able to freely upwardly rotate (which you want) instead of being pinned against a bench when you do seated military presses.
And for those of you wondering why it’s called the landmine press, it’s because of a piece of exercise equipment commonly used (called the landmine, see the picture above) to perform the press. You can use the landmine to do the exercise, use an adapter that sits in two 45 lbs plates (see picture below and in video), or you can just put a barbell into a corner and do the exercise. If you go with the barbell in the corner option, I recommend putting a towel around the end of the barbell though so you don’t destroy the wall.
You can perform the landmine press in standing or half-kneeling. I prefer the half-kneeling because I think it’s easier to learn this way, it forces you to engage your “core” muscles and the standing version requires you to lean your body forward as you press which can be a little confusing for people.
With regards to sets/reps for the landmine press, I usually recommend people keep it in the 3-5 sets of 6-8 rep range.
See the video below for a demonstration of the landmine press and underneath that is a written description of the exercise.
Get into the half-kneeling position – front leg should have the knee and hip at ~90° and the knee you are kneeling on should be slightly behind your body with the foot pointed (I prefer foot pointed rather than on your toes because it makes it a little more challenging from a stability standpoint, but you could perform it either way)
Make sure you maintain a neutral spine alignment (from head to butt) and then lightly engage your core muscles (abs, glutes, etc)
Hold the end of the barbell so that your arm is slightly away from the side of your body and your hand is a little in front of your shoulder; you may have to adjust where you set your legs up to get proper arm position
From this position press the barbell up, allowing your hand/arm to freely move through the motion (you will probably go in a slightly curved arc up and out away from your body)
Remember to maintain a neutral spine throughout the movement – the only part of your body that should be moving is your arm, everything else should be stable and not move (including your head)