Pec Activation Prior to Pressing
Video by Kirsten Ahrendt

Pec stick (or medicine ball holds) are a great warm-up to use before pressing movements – both vertical and horizontal – to get the pec muscles turned on and engaged. A lot of times athletes end up using other surrounding muscles of the shoulder joint – like the deltoids – when pressing, instead of the pecs. Not only is this inefficient, but it can also cause injury to the shoulder.

Let’s make sure to get those powerful pecs involved! This simple drill can be done with a special tool created just for it – the pec stick! If you don’t happen to have one of those lying around, a medicine ball (or similarly sized object) will work just fine as well.

The goal is to not only get the pecs fired up and activated but also the entire internal torque chain which is what we should be using in pressing movements to generate the most power in that position.

If you notice you’re committing one of the common faults like flaring elbows or you feel the need to sneak your hands down to the ball to help you hold it, grab a lighter load. We aren’t trying to max out here, just activate!

Another thing to keep an eye on is your upper traps. Those guys really like to work! We want to detrain them though and doing this activation drill will help as long as you are aware of yours and making sure they aren’t all up in your ears.

One last thing – good posture! That includes not only minding those upper traps but making sure you are standing in a neutral spine position. It’s very tempting to overextend at the top but remember, we are training the internal torque chain with this so you should be in a standing hollow body position to achieve this.

In this video, Coach Kirsten will walk you through the activation drill, help you get in the right position, and tell you how to make sure your pecs are firing. This mind-body connection will surely help with not only your pressing but any movement you need to find that internal torque chain for.

Try a few of these holds – Coach Kirsten guarantees you’ll be sweating bullets and ready to PR your press by the end of your warm-up!

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Ryan Mak
Ryan Mak

Great stuff! I remember using the stick when I was last visiting Invictus!!

I appreciate the Wallball modification so I can do it without the stick!