4 Best Overhead Press Variations
The overhead press is an explosive whole body movement that relies on numerous working parts to be executed properly. While hammering away at the lift itself can lead to some quick gains early on, rotating in key variations of the overhead press can keep your shoulders well rounded and progress moving forward. This is the short list of the best pressing exercises to fix your stagnate overhead press.
The deadlift has long been a hallmark of strength sports, existing as possibly the purest test of raw power. Virtually every muscle in the body is used, and there's a special emphasis on the biggest ones. Although the deadlift is ranked among the best barbell lifts when it comes to building (and testing) absolute strength, it is unique from it's peers in it's ability to take more from you than it gives back. When progress in the deadlift stalls, all too many lifters think breaking through a plateau is simply a matter of taking their intensity to an 11. But if continued progress of training is a goal, especially in the context of a whole, healthy body, then training smarter, not harder, is the way to go.
With the advent of the modern powerlifting era, technique and specialization became the hot topic of gym culture. Where the big lifts were previously just tools, little more than a poorly kept secret for quick size and strength gains, now they were being regarded as skills to be mastered, just like a shot-putter's spin or a gymnast's dismount. Previously, the big lifts took a 'bottom up' approach, where they were trained frequently along with a number of other exercises in the pursuit of some physical quality that they developed. Eventually, if a certain level of development was reached, one could demonstrate their accomplishments with a loaded barbell in front of a crowd.
A generation of eager new powerlifters soon flipped this on its head, starting at the top and prioritizing mastery of the lift first while putting on the back burner the general acquisition of strength and size. In the late 90's early 2000's, bench records were being set left and right, with the 800lb mark falling in 1999 and jumping to over 1,000lbs by 2004!! Non-powerlifters couldn't recognize the difference between a typical gym bench press and the equipped monstrosities that allowed for these numbers. All they knew came from the muscle rags of the day that featured spreads from the strongest benchers in the world promising that 'the key' to handling world record weights was skill and specialization; something the bros would never get.
"As popular as accommodating resistance is in modern strength-culture, it is strangely absent from the training logs of those who occupy the top 10 list."
A Case for Quads: An Analysis of the Role of the Quadriceps in Squatting Performance
With the advent of the internet and, eventually, social media, powerlifting has climbed to new heights of popularity. As the talent pool swells with new competitors, the bar continues to rise. Every aspect of the sport has received 'more': more genetically talented lifters, more athletes who started younger, more access to meets and training facilities, and, of course, more improvements in technique and training.
In the last few decades of this powerlifting bubble, mad bro-scientists have been toiling away in the iron lab in an attempt to engineer more efficient movement patters, and thus stake their claim on a legacy in the sport. One of the by products of this engineering is the insistence that a hip dominant squat is the most effective way to move the heaviest possible load from point A to point B. Lifters began foregoing the deep knee bend that had been forming world champions for a century in favor of box squats, reverse hypers, glute ham raises, good mornings, and other posterior-heavy movements.
Popular culture took hold and did what it does best; water down complex ideas for easy digestion by the masses. This invariably results in a church-like following that proselytizes the way, the truth, and the light without any awareness of the founding principles that bore the idea in the first place. Geared lifting has since fallen by the wayside in favor of the classic belt and wrap combo, and many of the original members of the Church of Lowbar have since begun to doubt.
From an analytical standpoint, the reasons used to justify a hip dominant squat seem compelling. The hip, when compared to the knee, is a bigger joint surrounded by stronger muscles. A wider setup will shorten the total distance the bar must traverse, lowering the total amount of work done. Keeping the knees out in a wide stance allows the hips to stay closer to the center of mass, shortening the moment arm between the weight and the hip, thus improving leverage.
Essentially, the squat is treated like a back-supported deadlift, and guys like Louie Simmons and the boys at Westside were able to train the two lifts interchangeably. The hip back, shins vertical, spread the floor commands placed the load on the posterior by a much wider degree and simulated a stroke that carried over directly to a pull of the floor. If you doubt the action of wide stance squat work on the deadlift, spend 6 weeks doing strict wide stance box squats for repeating sets of 4 and get back to me. The setup also potentiated the gear that was used: triple-ply Kevlar squat suits simply would not yield enough to allow depth with a narrow stance, regardless of how much weight was on the bar.
Everything about the hip-dominant setup seemed to fit.
So why the dissent?