Pressing overhead is and underrated exercise. Not only does it develop strong shoulders, triceps, traps but also your abdominal and leg muscles as they help stabilise the load. It also has great carryover into other strength exercises such as bench, push press and even body weight work such as push ups and pull ups.

However it can also be one of the most challenging to learn and progress. So I have put together 5 simple tips to helping improve your overhead pressing power.

1. Use Unilateral Exercises

Use unilateral exercises, such as Dumb bells or Kettlebells to build you pressing power. They force you to work each side of the body individually and can help weed out any strength imbalances you might have in one arm.

2. Build you mobility

Build your upper body mobility, especially through your shoulders and thoracic spine. Barbell over head press requires good mobility! I have seen plenty, in particular guys, unable to hit a rack position comfortably. In our Front Rack Article we covered some good mobility drills to help achieve a good starting position!

3. Do your accessory work

Stronger shoulders and back will help improve your press. Accessory work is a must including:
– Row Variations – 1 arm Rows, 2 arm rows, ring rows.
– Shoulder Work – Front, Lateral, rear raises, upright rows
– Arm work – Triceps, triceps! Skull Crushers, band pull downs, close grip bench, pushups! Curls!
– Pressing Variations – Z-Press (seated on the floor), Bench Press. Kettlebell Press
– Ab work – Plank variations – front and side. Anti rotation work – Palloff Press

4. Work your technique

Tips 4 and 5 tie in well with each other. Firstly spend time building your technique. This means light load to perfect the form. Once you have it then you can start to build into heavier loads. Do 3-4 warm up sets, with an emphasis on tempo and control over the form throughout the movement then……

5. Take weight off

……. Leave your ego at home and take weight off! If you can’t press it well, don’t press it! You need to build your technique and capacity over time. Don’t just rush to max weights out of the blocks. You will fail and get frustrated! 🙂

Here is a simple template of how you could improve your press.

Day 1:
Press
1 arm Row
Triceps
Abs

Day 2:
Press Variation (DBs, KBs)
Shoulders – Raises
Curls

Day 3:
Press
Barbell Rows
Press Accessory (Z Press)
Abs