#1 Tip For An Insanely Strong Overhead Press

We all know that everyone’s favorite lift is, no exceptions, the overhead press. Seriously though, I love the overhead press and this article is for those like me who also have a near obsession with gaining numbers on the bar and getting stronger. If you are getting stuck and aren’t lifting the maximal weight on the OHP, this is for you. This is NOT for beginners so if you’re a beginner you can leave or just stick around and learn more.

The key difference with the overhead press compared to other lifts is that like the deadlift it starts from a dead stop. Which means you need to overcome gravity, traditionally with a squat or bench you both have that negative then press back up. With the overhead press you get in position and start from nothing to full acceleration to get to the top. So how do we make the bottom of the lift, which is arguably the hardest part, easier? Well there are a few different schools of thought on this. The first is having the bar not sitting on your clavicles but just hovering above (see in video). From there you bring it down and then press back up for that tiny bit of momentum to help push you through the press.

What I personally like, I want a repeatable process, which has already made a dramatic difference since my return to OHP. This process is very similar to how I setup for a deadlift which is where I screw the body in, essentially wedging myself into the barbell which is basically me saying get tight. Lats locked, shoulders retracted, firm grip and a braced core. Since we start from a dead stop we have to overcome the initial inertia, that gravity, the heavy weight. Making the starting position easier helps makes sure everything else follows.

The basics:

  • Externally rotate (see video)
  • Retract shoulders and flex lats
  • Flexed quads and glutes
  • Firm Grip
  • Brace

Hot Tip! Get under pretty far (3-6 inches), Instead of lining directly up to it. If you are sufficiently tight and the bar is heavy enough, the bar will gently descend onto your shoulder and your body will still be in a strong position. This makes you like a coiled spring, ready to explode as fast as possible into the bar. Having a solid back is key.

- Omar Isuf