Barbell Shrugged

How to maximize your overhead press

Doug Larson

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  • How many training sessions a weeka should we do? And should we use the same weight and percentages during every training in this week? Should we pick the push press or the press?

  • Thanks Matt. I’m in struggle town with ohp at the moment so this article is perfectly timed. Love your stuff on Insta too

  • Really good article guys! Especially like the programming guidance with assistance activities.

    Question :
    I always thought sticking to strict would be way better than push press. Any reason to focus on push 90% of the time?

    • Because you can handle more weight while still “pressing.” Trying the arms very well. Carries over to the press massively. Pressing alone won’t give you that surplus load.

  • whenever I do overhead press, i get an uncomfortable pain in my left shoulder, but with dumbbell press i get no such pain. Any tips to combat this??

    • The DB allows for a different position all-together. Sounds like it allows you to avoid an inflamed area, so I would do it more often. Consider backing off the barbell. Go light and for speed. Reduce barbell frequency. Your barbell press will probably go up.

  • If focusing on strongman and log lifts would this same rep scheme work or should there be different percentages and reps?

  • Thanks for the great article! I am going to go through this sample program using the one day per week as outlined. I just have two questions:

    – I know this program recommends doing push press, should the percentage be based on push press, or strict 1RM?

    – Should I just be sticking with my Jerk grip as I want this to translate to the C&J or should the grip be switched up; if so should you be doing any behind the neck etc.?

    Thanks for the awesome info, I cannot wait to build some more strength and stability pushing weight overhead!


    • Nick, I would keep everything as similar between the push press and jerk as possible. Same set-up. Same mentality, grip, foot placement, etc. Just different finish of course. I think it would be best to start training it based off the strict press. Practice form. Get very comfortable. Then, just ramp up the load. It’s totally unnecessary to start heavy. Just practice at first. Your strength will take off soon enough. Chris

      • Thanks for the confirmation Chris! Day 1 is already in the books. Once I finish the 5 weeks I will deload for a week with some lite reps and focus on press and Jerk technique. I will then go for a new 1RM Strict Press and Split Jerk and post my results to this thread.

        You guys are awesome! Thanks,


  • Hey! Just a quick question: do you think I’d be good to do Mon OHP 5×5, Wed PP 5×5, Friday OHP 5×5 (with pullups and barbell rows)? And, do you think I need to be squatting while doing this or can I just focus on the OHP, PP, Pullups and Barbell Rows and cleans? I can’t squat in my apartment, and I’ve found that the lower body tightness during the OHP isn’t as good and sturdy without squatting.

    Thanks so much

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