Sunday, March 20, 2011

Strength Traiing for beginners part 3: The Press

Aaaaaaaah the press.
Otherwise known as the standing barbell press, military press or overhead press. No matter what you call it, it's bar none the best way to develop pushing strength in the human upper body. In recent years the bench press has taken over as the official benchmark of human pushing strength. This is because the bench places the upper body in a more stable position making it easier to judge in competition.  If you want to build real upper body strength nothing will do it quite like the press.

Thankfully, of all the exercises described in this series, the press is the easiest to teach over the internet.

The stance
This part is largely up to you. You want your feet to be under your hips, from there play with width until you find something that is comfortable for you. Set the bar up on the rack to be about mid sternum height. When you pick up the bar you want your hips slightly tucked under just enough that you don't over arch your back. Keep your abs tight and your chest out and high kind of like as if you were walking along a beach full of ladies (or dudes if that's your thing).

Approach the bar
Step up to the bar. Grab the bar with some chalk on your hands. When you pick the bar up, you want it resting along the upper part of your chest, on your upper pectorals. Elbows should be pointed down and slightly out in front of the bar. You want your wrists to be relatively straight and not cocked back from the weight of the bar. When you press, you want the weight of the bar to be directly over your wrists. Letting the weight cock your hands back at the wrists is an unstable position. You won't be able to push as mush weight and you will get sore after a while.

Now Press
From this position, all you have to do is push the bar overhead. Be careful not to dip at all through the knees, this is called hip drive and effectively turns the move into a push press. In order to avoid hip drive while pressing, I like to lock my knees out before pressing, effectively making it impossible to add hip drive to the movement.

The bar should track very close to your face. So close that you should just barely miss skinning your chin with the knurling in the center of the bar. As soon as the bar clears your head, push your head through so that the bar is in line with, or just behind your ears. Keep pushing up until you are fully locked out in the overhead position. That was a press

Now lower the bar back under control to your chest following the exact same path back down and repeat.

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