Ever since I started pressing, I have been obsessed with making it better. Partly because I was so weak at it for so long (which meant that it had no place to go but up) and because it is simply a cool exercise to do. The death of the Press as a movement can be attributed to a lot of things, none of which actually matter. BUT, if you view this lift with as much enthusiasm as I do, use these tips to improve what I consider to be one of the most fun movements in the gym.
1. Use a false grip – I don’t know who told me this or why I began doing this but this made a huge difference with my pressing power and more importantly THE PATH of the bar. It may seem a bit scary at first; holding a bar over your head with a false grip. But this seems to keep the bar path perfect for me and for some reason, make it much more comfortable on my shoulders. Only practice the false grip once you have have become extremely familiar with the regular grip.
2. Hold the bar in the shelf of your lats – This is hard to explain but think about it this way; don’t support the bar in your hands or on your shoulders. “Shoulder” the load with your lats – keep your lats pinched and held tight. This will keep the bar path from getting out in front of you and make you feel stronger at the bottom. A good confidant start makes a huge difference.
3. View it as a total body lift – This doesn’t mean that you should turn it into a push press, something that I have caught myself doing from time to time. But because of the line of power goes from over your head to the ground, it requires your whole body to be tight. Squeeze your ass hard! “Squat” the weight up with violence. The press is NOT a shoulder exercise, it is a MOVEMENT. View it as such.
4. Use volume to get stronger – the first thing I did to increase my press is train to a heavy set and then back off for multiple sets of 10. This is very similar to the very popular Boring But Big. I have found that volume increases my press greatly – but do not forget that you have to train heavy, too. As a note – when doing my main sets of 5/3/1, my goal is to simply get the weight overhead; it is a MOVEMENT. When doing down sets, I pull my head through at the top and view it as a “muscle”, not a movement. This is a key distinction that one must have when training big lifts (squat, bench, clean, dead, press) and when doing assistance work. One is a movement, the other is a muscle.
5. Make it a priority – Just like any lift, if you want it to increase you have to make it a priority in your training. Once I did this, once I made it as important as my squat or bench press, it made huge increases. But please understand that of any of these lifts (squat, clean, bench or deadlift) this is the one that will increase the slowest and take the most patience. Keep at it and you will be rewarded. There is nothing better than pressing a weight that some people struggle to squat.
Article written by Big Jim Wendler
Article excerpts taken from www.elitefts.com