Training the Overhead Press

Westside Barbell
Fri Apr 10, 2020

    When training at home or the gym, a universal standard of strength is the overhead press (OHP). This is a very common movement in strongman, and implements not included (for simplicity’s sake, we’ll focus on barbell usage), comes with 3 main variations.



  1. Strict Press - when the barbell is pressed overhead with only upper body strength
  2. Push Press - when energy is transferred from the legs into the barbell with no dipping back under the bar
  3. Push Jerk - when energy is transferred from the legs into the barbell and the athlete dips back under the barbell to catch it (this is done by way of a ‘split’ or ‘squat’ jerk)

Main Tips We Follow/Coach:


  • During the Strict Press, one major cue is keep the glutes tight. Doing so allows for a strict base, one which keeps the lifter from loosening form.
  • During the Push Press/Push Jerk, ensure the barbell is in contact with the clavicles/anterior delt for a full range of motion. From a strength standard, this allows for greater transfer of power from the body directly into the barbell. If the barbell is not in contact, ‘x’ amount of inches from the body to barbell of dead space can throw off timing.
  • Firstly amongst all 3, it is important to note one’s base. Foot width should be typically wider than a conventional deadlift stance, but not as wide as the squat stance. This is in an effort to create a more dynamic/athletic base. A simple way of understanding this is when standing quite narrow, or quite wide, one’s base is compromised and can easily become unstable.
  • Secondly amongst all 3, air must be taken in to enhance the brace, as the lower back can be placed into a precarious situation. Focus on taking as much (if not all) air through the nose, as this will help to shuttle the air into the abdominals, instead of the chest. This is crucial during the press as a decompression of the chest (from loss of air) will lend to the bar drifting away to the front and not in the ‘vertical-to-back’ pattern desired to keep the barbell over the center of mass.
  • ‘Vertical-to-Back’ - Once the barbell is vertically pressed and begins to pass the nose/eyes, press the barbell back as the head is reached through the arms (think biceps past the ears). If this is an issue due to flexibility/mobility, try ‘dead hanging' from a pull-up bar with a wider than shoulder width grip for 5 sets of 45sec. During these dead hangs, relax the shoulder girdle as you strive to retract the shoulder blades.