#strengthtraining: the correct way to press overhead

If you’re into strength (or just care about functional training in general) you should know what’s that exercise you don’t want to do… the overhead press! Right? I know, I know… it’s harder, you barely grow muscles in the right places, you fear it might injure your back and of course, you’re too busy focusing on your pecs.

For the uninitiated, here’s what an overhead press looks like.

Screenshot 2018-11-03 11.12.09
Barbell Overhead Press
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Seated Barbell Overhead Press

Yeah, you are used to doing this with dumbells. I know. Nothing’s wrong with that, but I’m into strength training and can’t help but talk about barbells. They’re the real deal.

In my opinion, they’re the absolute measure of a person’s strength (no, the bench press isn’t — sorry folks!) but people also hate it! I’m not sure if you know this, the press was part of the Olympics up until the 70s until it wasn’t anymore.

Nonetheless, the press helps you build a greater bench press and overall upper body strength. As a strength trainer, I wouldn’t recommend ignoring this key exercise. Beginners should absolutely do this exercise. The intermediate and advanced athletes should reconsider a couple of things:

  1. Figure out how to do this at least once a week. Twice would be even better.
  2. Know the correct way to do the press.

Speaking of the correct method, I found the following videos immensely helpful. I’ve used it with my beginner level clients and the response has been pretty great. Would highly recommend you not only watch the videos but also subscribe to the channels for greater in-depth content (it’s mostly powerlifting but you’ll also get a lot of “strength-based” theory that you ought to know if you’re spending any significant time in the gym).

Probably the best explanation of the “press” you can ever find. One of my lifetime goals is to actually meet this guy. Have learned a lot from Mark’s highly educational videos and his books. And yes, the 3×5/5×5 program that you’re doing in the gym (or Stronglifts) was basically a ripped off version of Mark’s Starting Strength program. Thought you should know, I hate it when people swear about “gains” they made while on Stronglifts.


Now, Alan Thrall is a Starting Strength coach and a Strongman athlete. This clip is highly educational and entertaining.

There actually are many more but I would keep the list restricted to just the ones above. Plenty of reasons but most importantly, you’ll simply get confused. And experimenting with this exercise isn’t something I would recommend. Learn the basics and build on it. Literally.

Press heavy or stay weak!


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