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5/3/1 with a Problem (Overhead Press)

I need some advice. I´m training according to the 5/3/1 schema but the standing press bothers me. Not my shoulders, but I suffered from a herniated disc last year and I´m back doing squats and deadlifts resonably well. But any lifts with the bar overhead does hurt. Any suggestion to an alternative to the standing press? Currently I´m doing the incline press and it´s working well.

I´m 57 years old by the way and did 440 in the squat and 550 in the deadlift before the disc ruined a strong back. My weight is 85 kg or for you US people approx 190 lbs.

Best regards


this may be only $0.02, but you might try upright rows. they definitely get the shoulders, it is just that they don’t also work the triceps.

I’ve never herniated anything but overhead pressing always hurts my back much more than squatting and deadlifting do. All I was going to suggest was incline DB press instead but you’re already doing that. I find I hurt the most when I lean back trying to “grind out” heavy reps overhead, but I find I dont suffer so much with push presses or jerks. So maybe try those?

Weighted dips, milies play havoc with my shoulders but narrow grip dips seem to be fine…

Thank you for your suggestion, upright row is a unfortunately a disaster for my shoulders, so they are out of the picture. I might do a couple of cycles of incline db´s as a try out.

incline bench as steep as you can without pain seems to be the only real replacement for the press.

Have you tried different hand positions? ie dumbell press with your hands either neutral or supinated instead of the standard pronated grip?

If none of the press grip variations work, you might want to just try plate raises, lateral raises. In other words, pick some shoulder and tricep exercises that would normally be considered “accessory” lifts, and do them as main lifts with the 5/3/1 schema (heh heh, i said schema).

The important thing is to find exercises that work that joint without pain.

Is it an option for you to strengthen your back? I have zero experience/knowledge of back injuries, so I’m just asking

Well first off where did you herniate a disc? Lower, mid or cervical (neck)? Do you wear a belt when you do military?

Thank you all for your suggestions. Regarding the disk, lower part L4-L5. And it was a real bad situation with me having to use a walker for 3 weeks and then chrutches for another 5 weeks. But now I am able to do 330 in the squat and 440 in the deadlift again. I think I will continue with the steep inclines instead of the standing presses. Even db presses sitting down does hurt quite a bit. But it is just a matter of will over matter. As someone said: Where there is no will it does not matter.