The Javelin Press is one of my favorite press variations and I will explain why everyone should implement it into their training. First off it looks super cool, I remember the first time I saw someone do this exercise. It was James Harrison in one of his Instagram videos he does and I just looked at him do it in awe. At the time I tried it but was definitely not able to press a 45 lb barbell with one arm. For whatever reason I didn’t even consider just getting a smaller barbell and trying it like that. I also didn’t understand the benefits of it as I was new to lifting and just dismissed it as something I could do when I got stronger. However I really missed out because this is a great exercise for all fitness levels. This is because of all the benefits you get from it compared to a normal overhead press such as targeting the core, requiring stability, and teaching better mechanics.
Key to this lift is centering your hand on the bar and gripping it tight, tall upright posture, and adequate thoracic spine extension. An often unconsidered aspect to the javelin press is that you need to control the eccentric or lowering part because you can not let the weight drop too quickly. The instability will lead to you probably losing it.
The reason this lift is so good is the offset weight. For this reason you are forced to resist the rotation that the bar will create. This engages your core a lot to create rotatory stability.
There are not many exercises that require as much shoulder and grip stabilization. Grip is often an underrated aspect of training because when you get into heavier weights sometimes the limiting factor could be your grip. A normal dumbbell overhead press or barbell overhead press does not require much of your grip. In the case of a dumbbell this is because it is not very long and in the case of a regular barbell press you have two hands on the bar which increases stability. The javelin press is unique in that because a barbell is long and you only have one hand on it, stability is decreased and grip and scapular stability is crucial.
Another reason I like this press is it teaches a better biomechanical position for the shoulder. Many people do overhead presses with their elbow really far back and puts the shoulder in a less than ideal position which could over time cause shoulder impingement. What you are doing when you move your elbow forward during an overhead press is taking stress off the joints and connective tissue and putting it more on the musculature.
We have been talking about doing this exercise with just one bar but you can do it with two as well. It’s a trade off of less rotary stability for more motor control required to stabilize the two loads. I’m not quite as much of a fan of this primarily because of the decrease in rotary stability. This may just be a personal preference because I don’t enjoy doing core isolation exercises at the end of a work out but rather incorporate it more into my lifts making them more functional. Plus I believe there are better overhead press variations for increasing motor control demands anyways. However it is a option and again just another variation.
Common errors include letting your elbow drop to low in the bottom position which causes collapsing in scapular stability and bad movement patterns. Also over extension of the lower back which is a common error in almost any overhead press. Think about engaging your core if that is the case for you and this exercise will actually force you to do that like we talked about earlier. Last one is letting the bar rotate in front of or behind your head and again this will be fixed with engaging that core to stabilize.