Whether you compete in a sport with overhead events like strongman, or you just like being able to press something heavy overhead, a strong overhead press is a great thing to have. Getting a strong press, however, isn’t easy for a lot of lifters. Especially if you’re not a naturally strong presser, an overhead press is going to take work and every five-pound PR is going to be earned the hard way.
For non-competing lifters who are just looking to work on all-around strength, I like to make standing strict overhead press a primary movement in the program. We measure strength improvements on that lift, and then use secondary pressing movements and variations to build the strict press. Assistance work plays an important role in building the overhead press as well, with a strong back necessary to support the press, and effective biceps and triceps training important to maintain healthy joints/muscles and eliminate weak points. This 8-week program will provide a structured example of how you can accomplish all of these things.
I think it’s also important to note that I’ve found strict overhead pressing is affected dramatically by bodyweight changes and recovery. Often times eating to gain weight will help accelerate your pressing progress, and dramatic losses in bodyweight will require a lot more patience in developing your pressing strength. Take that as you will, and keep that in mind as you evaluate your goals and timeline. No matter what your bodyweight goals are, make sure that you’re getting optimal nutrition to fuel training and that your recovery (overall programming strategy, sleep, stress management, etc.,) are in check. Small dips in recovery will take a big toll on your press.
The following 8-week program will provide two upper body days per week to help build the overhead press. The other days of your program will depend on your squat/deadlift/lower body goals. My recommendation is to make sure it is wisely organized so that way you aren’t pulling your recovery in too many different directions. I also recommend making sure you are working on your overhead press technique, as small technique issues will make a dramatic difference in what you can press overhead. Click on the link below to download the program. Don’t hesitate to ask if you have any questions.