Dumbbell Airlift Exercise: How, Benefits, Variations

Carrying heavy weights at first glance seems to have no value except to strengthen your grip. But when you perform a move like the dumbbell overhead lift exercise, pick up the weights, and walk around, you’ll realize there’s so much more to it than meets the eye.

Your shoulders and lungs burn with every step and any deviation while you walk will be doubly felt. Also, the voices in your head will tell you to stop because of the intense discomfort you are feeling. Then you’ll realize there’s a lot more to carry than meets the eye. But with a simple adjustment, you can take your carry game to a whole new level. What is that? He wears a bar above his head.

Here we’ll explain what overhead lifts are, the benefits of overhead lift at the bar, how to perform an overhead lift, programming suggestions, and variations of overhead lift if the overhead lift at the bar isn’t for you.

What is the Barbell Overhead Carry

There is no doubt that regular transport (by your side, rack, suitcase or cup) is difficult. But walking with a barbell overhead takes this to another level due to the increased leverage. The further the weight is from your working muscles, in this case your legs, the harder it is to carry. Carrying a bar above your head will put your whole body under tension, and each step is a test of your balance on one leg. This means starting on the lighter side with overhead lifts, somewhere between 60-80% of your 1RM barbell overhead press works best.

How to do a barbell overhead lift

  1. You have two options for putting the barbell in an overhead position. First, and the most preferable option is to press it above the squat rack. The second is a cleaning and pressing of the floor. A grip wider than shoulder width works well here.
  2. Once the bar is propped overhead, make sure your wrists are neutral, your elbows are locked, and your biceps are at or behind your ears.
  3. Take small, slow steps forward, paying attention to your gait and bar position. Walk 20 to 40 meters.
  4. Carefully return the barbell to the squat rack or floor.

Trained muscles

The overhead barbell lift is a total body exercise due to the overhead position and its dynamic nature. Here are the main muscles trained by carrying dumbbells overhead.

Upper body

    • Forearm
    • Upper back
    • Rotator cuff
    • Triceps
    • The three deltoids

Lower body

    • Anterior and posterior nucleus
    • Glutes
    • Hamstrings
    • Calves

Benefits of air travel at the helm

When overhead lifts are performed with good form, they will improve your

  • Better posture: Anything short of good posture during an overhead carry is a surefire way to lose your balance and injure yourself. Lifting weights overhead reinforces good posture and strengthens the muscles needed for better posture.
  • Encourages proper breathing patterns: Chest breathing is great for when you need to breathe quickly when being chased by a wild animal. But most of your breathing should come from your diaphragm. When traveling by air, it is difficult to be a chest breather when carrying heavy weights overhead and therefore encourages better breathing patterns.
  • Shoulder stability: Your rotator cuffs are working like crazy to keep your shoulders in your sockets and the muscles in all three deltoids are on fire to keep the bar in position overhead. Carrying weights overhead improves your shoulder stability due to increased time under tension for the entire shoulder girdle.
  • Better balance: Each step with the bar overhead is a one-legged stance. Any loss of balance will be amplified here so be careful. The last thing you want is to end up on a workout failure video.
  • Conditioning and Mental Strength: All loaded lifts and especially the aerial lift will teach you to manage discomfort and to walk with a load. This has fantastic carry in and out of the gym.

How to add it to your routine

There are several ways to program overhead bar carry. The first option is part of your strength programming, or the second option is part of your core routine before hitting the weights. Whichever you choose, do it early as it is a physically demanding exercise that requires your full attention.

Here are some examples.

1A. Variation of bench press

1B. Barbell Overhead Carry – 40 yards

Basic triset

1A. Barbell Overhead Carry – 40 meters

1B. Stability Ball Plank – 30 seconds

1 C. Half-kneeling Pallof Press – 12 reps on each side.

Suggested weights, sets and reps

Below are guidelines on how to program dumbbell overhead lift for strength and hypertrophy. These are guidelines only and can be modified to suit your personal goals.

Hypertrophy: Time under tension and volume is the key to gaining muscle with any exercise, including overhead. Performing three to four sets, walking 40+ yards using 60-80% of your 1RM overhead press is a good place to start.

Strength: Increasing the weight and decreasing your walking distance will increase your strength in the overhead position. 3 sets of 20 meter walks using 80-90% of your 1RM overhead press will challenge you.

Variations of the overhead carry at the barre

Dumbbell overhead lifts are an advanced variation and are not for everyone, especially those with shoulder mobility issues or suffering from shoulder pain. In these cases, incorporating a variation of overhead lift can provide the same kinds of benefits as a dumbbell lift. in your routine is key. Here are three overhead variations to add spice to your carry game.


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Richard V. Johnson