I have a love-hate relationship with overhead presses—especially since I am over 50. There’s no doubt that heavy overhead presses can damage the shoulder capsules (although mine are trashed from a combination of bench presses and overhead presses); however, it’s obvious that one function of the shoulder complex is to push overhead.
So you need overhead presses for complete, awesome delt development, right? Maybe not.
According to Mr. America Doug Brignole, the medial-delt head gets little direct stimulation when you do an overhead press. In fact, he says it’s fairly worthless for developing wider delts. Overhead presses are more of a front-delt-head move—but the medial head does contribute.
If you feel pain in your shoulder joint, stop the presses—or at least stop doing them heavy. I like these two options:
1) Use presses as a warmup exercise only. Take a weight that allows you about 20 reps, but only do 15; rest 30 seconds, and then do 15 more. Rest one last time for 30 seconds, and do a third set of 15. None of the sets will be taxing, although you’ll get plenty of blood into your entire shoulder area so it’s prepped for your first heavier exercise, like dumbbell upright rows.
2) Put presses at the very end of your delt workout—even after your bent-over laterals—and use standard straight sets. Your entire shoulder area will be fatigued by that point from laterals and upright rows, so you will be forced to use a lighter weight than if you did them first in your routine.