Fitness tip - Box dumbbell press

Fitness tip - Box dumbbell press

by Evigan Xiao 18 Jan 2020

Overhead pressing is one of the most fundamental movements of the human body, yet most beginners find difficulty in displaying proper execution. Years of sedentary behaviour coupled with poor posture can lead to certain muscles being weakened or even hypertonic, affecting one's ability to press vertically. When it comes to re-learning the overhead press from the ground up (quite literally), a simple box can prove to be quite useful.


The overhead press begins with a concentric movement – this means that the prime movers (i.e. deltoids and triceps) start in a shortened position. There is no elastic energy to be gained via the eccentric process with the first repetition, therefore the setup is crucial for optimal pressing performance.

Location and equipment courtesy of TripleFit


A good setup for overhead pressing sees the shoulder girdle being “locked down”. The act of depressing the shoulder blades in an outward spiralling fashion creates tension in the upper body, which facilitates the application of force. Combined with an extended thoracic spine (“tall” chest) and a braced core, the perfect platform for pressing is created.


Using a plyo box as a shelf for your arm allows your to practice this process. The height of the box also serves as an automatic “stopper”, so that you can focus on maintaining/resetting your shoulder girdle at the bottom of each repetition. With enough practise, the act of setting your shoulder girdle should become second nature.


The half-kneeling posture adopted for this movement also enables you to be more conscious of how you brace your core. If you fail to do so properly, you may find yourself arching to one side as a means of compensating for a lack of trunk stability. Using the box dumbbell press allows you to address common technique flaws with overhead pressing throughout the entire body, so it may also be a good idea to revisit the movement every now and then to see if any bad habits have re-surfaced.