My Plan of Attack For the Overhead Press

As I alluded to yesterday when I gave a training update, I’d like to improve my overhead press. To me, it’s just a badass exercise, and one I wish I was better at.

Unfortunately, if I train the overhead press heavy and often, my left shoulder hates me. Also, with my knee being the way it is right now, I don’t think heavy standing work would go over too well either.

So I got to thinking, and I’ve started to implement a plan of attack geared towards improving my overhead press that doesn’t actually include seated overhead pressing. There are some lifts that I’ve improved just through assistance work, the deadlift being one of them. I hit my best deadlift after not deadlifting for two months prior.

With other exercise like chin-ups though, I find that the only way I can improve them is to do them.

I’m not sure where the overhead press will fall into that equation, but I’m going to give it a rip.

Here is my plan, as well as my rationale for why I’m doing it.

I am going to press three times a week: one heavy day, one medium day, and one light day.

Day 1- Heavy Dumbbell Inclines

This is an exercise I can do heavy without bothering my shoulders, so I’ll use it for my heavy strength work. This week I did 6 sets of 5 reps.

Day 2- Light 1 Arm “Bottoms Up” Kettlebell Presses

I am doing these for shoulder and core stability. I’ve never done them before, so it’s a new challenge. I’m not sure how they’ll carry over to the overhead press, but I suspect it will be positive. I’m hoping it will like my experience with ring pushups/dips about four years ago. When I first tried them, I could barely do a couple and it felt useless, with practice though, my numbers shot up to the point where I can now do almost as many on the rings as I can regularly, and the added shoulder stability helped my pressing.

That’s what I’m shooting for with the bottoms-up presses, but we’ll see. The first time, it was ugly and I struggled to get 5 sets of 5 with 16 kg (35 pounds). Don’t laugh.

Ok, you can laugh. I deserve it.

While I’m doing 5×5, I still consider this to be a light day since the weight is so light. While it was challenging to do, it wasn’t taxing, if that makes sense.

Day 3- Medium Giant Cambered Bar Overhead Press

Pressing with the giant cambered bar is a wild ride that really challenges your core and shoulder stability because the bar wants to shake on you.

These don’t bother me at all, and I suspect it’s just due to the lighter loads. I’ve been doing sets of 6, but again, it’s a lot lighter weight than I could normally use. I’m hoping my doing these though, it will address the core aspect of the overhead press so when it comes time to test it out my core is not the weak link.

To keep my shoulders healthy and functioning at their best, I’m doing the soft tissue and stretching work that I outlined last week here and here.

Like I said before, I’m not sure how it’ll work, but that’s the plan. I wanted to give you some insight into what I’m doing and, more importantly, why I’m doing it.

After my post yesterday, enough people expressed interest in how I’m currently training that I think I’ll send out a newsletter either this weekend or early next week with a sample week. If you’re interested, just sign up above.