5 Ways to Increase Your Press
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. Remember that the path of the bar must be efficient so stop looping your way to the top. Shitty technique is simply shitty concentration. Stop whooping and hollering and pretending you give a fuck – start doing shit right. Best way to spot a beginner lifter or someone with a small ego: selfies and the “look at me” yelling in the weight room.
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. In order to do this right with heavy weight, your entire body has to be strong. And this means more than just your shoulders and arms – we are talking about your abs, low back, upper back and lats. In other words, when you get your body stronger, good things happen. Make note.
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. When coaching younger lifters with this, I have them set their bodies with straight legs. From there, they shove the weight up Malcolm X style. After a few tries, they almost always get their hips right. The point is to remove the temptation and shit gets done.
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. Unless you are injured, you need to press. The best way to bench press 405 is to press 400.