Becoming an overhead press monster doesn’t come from just lifting weight overhead all the time.  Strength athlete Eric Todd talks about 3 components that are crucial to being strong overhead.

When competing in strongman, almost every contest I entered contained some kind of an overhead press in it.  Now that I am competing almost exclusively in the USAWA All-Round Weightlifting, overhead strength is still important, as there are quite a variety of overhead pressing variations represented in the organization. As the overhead press is a compound movement, it is imperative to build strong shoulders and triceps.  If the lift being performed allows pushing, you must incorporate explosiveness from your lower body as well.  You must also build a strong core in order to support the weight on your chest and as you press it.  Here are a few of the keys in building strong overhead strength.

Build Explosiveness

When building explosiveness, I incorporate speed work.  This can be done with straight weight, resistance bands or added chains. Keep weight loads on the lighter side to keep tempo of lifts high and you can incorporate bands or chains for extra resistance.  Here is an article that dives a little deeper into speed training. 

Build Core Stability

Explosiveness combined with a strong core allows your lower body to translate that speed to the bar and carries you through your lift.  Core strength can be developed through a number of methods.  A couple that I like are heavy front squats to get used to supporting heavy weights on your chest, static holds with weight, and planks which help build core stability. Here are some other ideas for building core stability.

Incorporate Variety

Athletes with a generally strong overhead, which includes both the push and strict styles, incorporate a variety of implements.  I like to rotate which version I use as one of my main lifts for the workout.  This would include axle, log, barbell and dumbbell.  It would also include switching up variations of each lift – strict and push versions.  I really like to incorporate partial overload lifts.  I do this by placing my weight in the squat rack at a variety of different heights.  Working these heavily ensures that once the speed from my push was gone, I could finish the lift with brute press out strength. Watch here for a demo.

Those are just some of the ways I have been able to improve my overhead pressing strength.  There are certainly other means.  It is a total body movement, so whatever you do you must develop explosiveness, core strength and stability, shoulder strength, and tricep strength.  Only when you combine these things will you realize your potential as an overhead press monster.

Strongman Eric Todd with tire

Eric Todd

Eric Todd is the proud dad of two children, a Junior high special education teacher, and a coach of wrestling and track.  He has always had a competitive drive starting with Collegiate wrestling and now specializes in strength sports with more than 18 years of experience.  He was an ASC Professional Strongman for many years and now competes in All-Round Weightlifting.  Eric Todd even holds a Guiness World Record from successfully lifting 453.59 kg (1,000 lbs.) in the neck lift.

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