The barbell overhead press is important in a few different weightlifting disciplines. It’s an important component of most Olympic lifts, and it’s the shoulder move of choice for most power lifters. The latter is because it’s the best way to put a heavy load on your deltoids.
For that reason, you should add it to your workout as well. You’ll notice more gains in strength and muscle size, because you’re finally giving your delts the workload they deserve.
Performing an Overhead Press
This technique assumes you have a squat rack. If you’re lifting it from the floor before every set, you should learn the clean. That’s a basic Olympic move, but it’s still beyond the skillset of a beginner. For that reason, I will only recommend barbell overhead presses if you have a proper rack.
- Set up the barbell on a rack at upper chest level.
- Grab the bar at a little wider than shoulder width. Your knees should be slightly bit, and your fit at just wider than hip width.
- Raise your chest and lean back very slightly.
- Press the bar upward. As it passes your head, lean forward so that your head is back in line with the rest of your body.
- Keep the bar inline with your shoulders. Your arms should be in line with your head. Push until your elbows are just short of lock out.
- Slowly lower the bar, raising your chest and leaning back again as the bar comes to head level.
- Stop the bar on your upper chest.
Using Your Legs (How To Do A Push Press)
There is an Olympic variation of the overhead press called a Push Press.
In that move, you bend your knees slightly and use the force of straightening them to help push the bar. Olympic lifters do this because you can use your legs for the press portion of a clean and press.
If you’re not an Oly lifter, a push press can still be a good workout, but it takes some work away from the shoulders.
For that reason, I only recommend push presses to knock out an extra rep or two at the end of a set. “Cheat reps” aren’t full reps, but any extra work you can get past your initial failure is a plus.
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