No Barbell, No Athlete: Part 3. PRESS

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By Carl Paoli - Posted on 09 December 2009

The Press, also known as the Overhead Press, is one of the fundamental barbell exercises any athlete should be exposed to in order to enhance their strength and conditioning program and performance.

Ironically the Press is currently less popular than the Bench Press, even though the benefits of pressing a barbell overhead are greater.  The Press helps increase overall upper body strength, speed and power and help develop some serious trunk stability. Not only that, but it is also one of the best ways to keep your shoulders injury free and mobile for life.

Like any lift, you will have trouble getting it right at first, but if you follow these 3 easy STEPS plud start light (PVC pipe or broom stick), focus on your technique and add weight progressively, you will end up getting it down pretty solid.


Set up and Rack: This will allow for your body to create a column from feet to head and facilitate the placement of the weight in the starting position.

  1. Place barbell on a bar rack at a height lower than shoulder level.
  2. Place your hands on the bar outside just outside of shoulder width.
  3. Grip the bar tight with arms straight and pull your shoulder blades back and down.
  4. With out loosing that strong upper back position, bend and swing your elbows under and in front of bar.
  5. Shove bar close to your neck and shoulders.
  6. Stand tall with a proud chest and step back from the rack.
  7. Lock your legs straight with a hip width apart stands.
  8. Squeeze your belly and butt (This is extremely important to stabilize your spine and allow for a successful and safe lift).


The lift or PRESS: The concentric (or positive) phase of the Press.

  1. Take deep breath.
  2. While holding your breath initiate the press in a vertical fashion.
  3. Keep chin in and move head out of the bars path.
  4. As bar reaches forehead level, start shifting your head and torso forward.
  5. Keep pressing and finish with elbows locked, shoulders shrugged up into your ears and head forward with chin almost touching your chest but without looking down.
  6. Make sure the weight is placed above shoulders and lined up with hips and heels.


Descent or finish: The eccentric (or negative) phase of the Press.

Reverse STEP 2 and place the bar on shoulders and then back on the rack.

Now you have a guideline with all the essentials covered in order to be able to Press correctly.  Start making this a part of your strength and conditioning program and you will start seeing some mad results in all your skills.

Good luck

Coach – going overhead – Carl