Arthur wrote:Is there a meaningful physiological distinction between pressing in front and pressing overhead? For that matter, is there one between pulling from the front and pulling from overhead? Or is it just a matter of the degree of resistance?
Oh, they are both very different from each other. The bench press or push-up targets mainly the chest (pectoralis muscles) with synergistic muscles such as the triceps and shoulders playing a part. The overhead press (or hand stand push-ups) targets the anterior deltoid (shoulder muscle) and bunch of other synergistic muscles including the triceps, lateral deltoid, and trapezius muscles (upper back/neck area), but not much of the chest muscles at all.
The seated row, bent over row, or pulling from the front brings all the back muscles into play not really targeting any one muscle and the movement is really pulling the elbows back. The pull-down, pull-up, chin-up, or pulling from overhead really targets the latissimus dorsi (lats), the muscles that give you that nice V look and involves pulling the elbows down.