All it takes is a tweak or two, and virtually any exercise for any muscle group can instantly become a core movement as well. It's all about positioning.
One great example of this is the V-sit overhead press, an underrated unilateral move that not only works to help improve your shoulder press mechanics, but also forces you to work hard to keep your core engaged to maintain proper posture throughout the movement.
At first glance, the V-sit overhead press looks similar to another shoulder press alternative—the Z press. Both exercises are performed seated on the ground, which helps to reinforce shoulder pressing technique. While you press from the floor, the goal is to maintain proper posture without arching your back.
There are differences, however. The Z press seeks to eliminate any lower body involvement in the movement—once you sit, your legs are totally out of the equation. The V-sit shoulder press, however, adds another component by challenging you to elevate your legs off the floor, quickly intensifying the stress applied to your core.
“Very often when we press overhead if we lack shoulder mobility, we compensate by arching our back,” says Men’s Health fitness director Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S. “Thanks to the V-sit position, you can't do that though. Your core never stops working as you press, and you're constantly micro-correcting to maintain your balance.”
How to Perform the V-Sit Overhead Press
●Sit on the floor with your legs extended in front of you. Hold a dumbbell in one hand at shoulder height.
●Elevate both legs several inches off the floor, keeping them as straight as possible. You should be balanced on your butt, leaning only slightly back as you squeeze your abs and glutes hard to stay in position.
●Press the dumbbell straight up—even try to get an additional squeeze at the top of the movement if possible—all the while, keeping your legs elevated. Extend your opposite arm to maintain your balance.
●Repeat for 3 sets of 10 to 12 reps per side.
You'll need keep your abs contracted to stay in the proper position, according to Samuel. This also ensures that you maintain a closed rib cage throughout the movement, allowing you to hone your shoulder mobility during the overhead press portion of the exercise. This will pay off once you stand up and take on more standard overhead variations.
Because the V-sit press is both core and shoulder intensive, going heavy will be difficult. The most ideal way to incorporate the V-sit overhead press is at the end of your workout. And if this isn’t challenging enough, try eliminating any rest in between sets. That should be all the core work you’ll need to get a wicked burn.
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