What Is the Ideal Weight for Women to Overhead Press?

Perform eight to 15 repetitions of the overhead press using dumbbells.
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The overhead press is an effective exercise for toning and sculpting sexy shoulders and can be performed using either dumbbells or a barbell. When it comes to choosing how much weight to lift, there is no prescribed weight for all women. Due to differing fitness and strength levels, what may be an optimal weight for one woman may be too much or too little for another. Start with a weight that is slightly challenging and progress from there. Before beginning any new exercise it's also recommended to consult your physician.

Focus on Form

The overhead press can be performed either standing or seated using dumbbells or a barbell. This exercise works primarily the deltoids and the triceps. Performing the overhead press in a standing position as opposed to seated will also engage more of the core and lower back muscles. Pay attention to proper form. To begin, stand upright with your feet approximately hip-with apart holding two dumbbells in your hands to the sides at shoulder height with your palms facing forward. Engage your core and exhale as your press your arms overhead until the elbows are straight, but not locked. Slowly lower the weight back to the starting position in a controlled manner to shoulder height. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Train for Your Goal

The weight and repetitions you use for the overhead press will depend on your goals. For example, if you want to improve muscular strength in your shoulders, use a heavier weight with fewer repetitions. If your goal is to increase muscular endurance in your shoulders, select a lighter weight and more repetitions. However, most women perform the overhead press with the goal of toning and sculpting the shoulder area. To create that nice round shoulder appearance you will be proud to show off, choose a range between eight to 15 repetitions and perform three to four sets of the overhead press.

Trial and Error

The easiest way to figure out an ideal weight for you for the overhead press is through trial and error. The ultimate goal is to push yourself to fatigue on every set. This means that the last two or three repetitions of each set of the overhead press should feel extremely challenging, and you should struggle to complete these last few repetitions with correct form. You may find yourself having to "cheat" a little by leaning the upper body backward or giving yourself a little help through your lower body. If you are able to finish eight to 15 repetitions of the overhead press fairly easily, increase your weight for the next set. If you feel you are struggling a little too much, reduce your weight a little. Select a weight that is challenging for you.

Changing It Up

For a challenging shoulder-specific workout, try incorporating the overhead press into a workout that includes other shoulder-specific exercises, such as the lateral raise, front raise and bent-over reverse fly. The overhead press can also be used to target the shoulders in a full-body workout or upper body-specific workout.

Rest and Recovery

Resting adequately between sets is an important part of any training routine. Between each set of the overhead press, rest 30 to 60 seconds. Never train the shoulders or perform the overhead press on consecutive days. Always take at least 24 hours to rest before performing the overhead press or working the shoulders again.

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