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Increasing Shoulder Press Strength


Hey guys,

I was wondering if I could have insight into how to best increase my max on the log press and push press. Of course, working form will get it better, but I also need to increase my strength. Compared to what it needs to be to compete as a lightweight - it's terrible. I'm pretty new to Strongman and have only done a local competition thus far.

My other events seem to be coming along great so far, but my log press and overhead pressing strength in general needs a lot of work. There's a local competition coming up in about 8 weeks and I need to increase my log press rep weight to 200lbs. I can press 165 for a triple, 175 for a single and 155 for 5-8 depending on the day.

I'm curious what you guys, from personal experience, have found to be great for increasing your log pressing strength? Frequency, set/rep schemes, intensity, accessory exercises, etc.. My overhead press strength has already increased a lot in the last 2 months (which is sad, because it's still not good), and I am wondering if perhaps there is a better routine I can go on to increase my shoulder press strength over the next 8 weeks. Generally I workout 3 days a week in the gym and 1 day events.

Thanks guys.



I have nothing to offer but am posting so I can subscribe to this thread. I'm in the same boat as you, my pressing strength is lacking compared to my pulling and would like to hear what has worked for others.



Unfortunately, I am doing the same.

Also unfortunately, I doubt you will get much info in this forum. The PL forum tends to incorporate OH stuff...


With a sub-200 overhead, and looking for a quick increase, I would probably focus on either speed on the push press or try to develop some kind of jerk, depending on what you're comfortable with. I would also hammer the triceps and lockout.


Close grip bench press is a great assistance move. I would try to increase it. I think that what ever I can get for 10 reps in close grip bench I can also press strictly.

Also, like with all exercises, big volume always works. If you have any weights at home you can lift every once in a while while doing other things do that. No matter if it's "too light", it will still help. Mark down the volume and weight used and try to increase those over time.

When I thought about it, you don't even need weights. Push up variations also work well. One armed push up being the hardest. Staggered push up is a good transitional exercise. I would recommend shoulder width hand placement.

I think the trick is to do something often. No matter if it isn't exactly the same exercise, when you work the main muscles you will build that base that will help you in the future. Also, depending on your weakness('), it might be even a better option than the main lift. Keep an open mind. :wink:


You're 8 weeks out - start this week with 120 and rep it. Next week rep 130. The week after that, 140. One top set each week. It's not fancy, it will work. The only thing that makes me a little leery is that you've never actually hit contest weight - not even 90% of it. You're going to have to figure out how to work some singles in there. There's clearly a disparity between your rep weight and your max if you're hitting 155 for as many as 8 and 175 for only 1. You either need to learn to strain, or you're just unfamiliar with the log. I just dont want to see you going along great for the first month and a half, you hit 180 for a triple or whatever, adn then the next week 190 wont go.

Before anyone starts talking about burning out - 1) he's a novice 2) He's starting out at less than 70% of his max and wont go over 90 for a month 3) It's 8 weeks we're talking about


Savickas Presses FTW...
Sit on the ground in a squat rack, with a regular BB, a fat bar, an axle or a log at shoulder height. Then sit with your legs straight out in front of you, flat on the floor - no bent knee - no digging your heels into the floor, do not let them come off the floor and press the bar/log overhead.
This is the toughest press you will ever do and was created by one of the strongest, if not the strongest presser in the world.. Zydrunas Savickas.. having set numerous log and axle overhead records.
Keep the reps low.. sets less then 3 reps worked the best for me... and 5-8 sets.

If you have a spotter, have him put his knee behind your upper back, but not touching.. just there for "catching" you if the weight tips you backwards.

You will probably find that the first couple of times your Savickas Press will be way below your overhead strict press... my strict BB overhead was 240 and stalled for over 6 months.. my initial Savickas Press was 180... I built that up to up to 195 and my strict overhead is now at 260 x 2 reps... in about 6 months..

and I'm an old fart..
another member of our training group went up 20 lbs in his Savickas Press and his overhead went up by 40 lbs...

It is also awesome for the core... don't use a belt... unless you are feeling a low back strain on your heaviest sets.
It works the "same" core muscles as your overhead pressing does.. so it will help those strongman events like Axle and Log presses...


Thanks for the advice guys. I'm going to start up the changed shoulder program next week. I just had a thought on progressing myself, and was wondering what you guys thought.

A few years ago I worked up from doing a 10x10 weighted ring dips and bodyweight pullup superset to eventually 15x15 weighted ring dips and bodyweight pullups over a period of about 6 weeks. My added weight on the dips went from being able to do 70lbs for 1 set of 10 reps, to being able to work up to 90lbs for a set of 15 (my 10rep max at the time was about 110lbs), and then work back down and hold 70lbs for about 4 sets of 15. So, I would say that I had some huge strength and strength endurance gains over those 6 weeks. I did this workout once a week, along with 4 other days where I did shoulders/back, legs x2, and arms respectively.

Do you guys think that a similar program would work well to bring up my log press/overhead press strength? If so, would you recommend doing push presses, seated presses or strict standing presses? With my pullup/dip superset there obviously wasn't much strain on my lower back, so I guess my main concern is having too much volume and loading on my spine. Perhaps I could do one day of seated barbell presses supersetted w/ pullups for high volume, and then 3-4 days later do a speed and/or strength day with log presses?

Just some thoughts here, and I am still definitely keeping in mind the suggestions made so far.

Thanks again guys.



This. Forgot to mention it. Although I've never heard the part about setting the pins at shoulder height, i set it at about sticking point



I did a ton of volume and got my log from 180 to 240 in 4 sessions. I did 10 sets of 10 reps every session. Volume was thing that really did and still does do it for the log for me. It helps get me along the learning curve and get the feel for the log faster.


What weight were you using the first couple of times for your 10x10? My log needs to get moving ASAP.

EDIT: I assume this wasn't strict too?


I'm not a strongman competitor, but I'm currently trying to increase my overhead press. What I have to add may sound stupid and simple, but for some reason it took me a while to get it.

Make it a priority. In my training I had always essentially treated it as almost an accessory lift. Don't. I would get to the gym and squat or bench first or something, and then come back to the press. I worked on it, but it was never a priority. Now I have a day I go in and its what I focus on that day. It's what I do first thing in the gym and it's what I put the peak of my energy into. Since I've started doing this, I've been gaining on it leaps and bounds.

Like I said it sounds kinda silly, but it was an ah-hah moment for me. Hope it helps.


Not sure about OP, but I have had a dedicated OH day and I still have not seen results. My shoulders are getting noticeably larger, but not stronger. That doesn't even make sense as I type it, but for some reason it's true.


I didn't do strict pressing, I did "Do whatever the fuck you need to do to get that sumbitch above your head to lock it out". I never maxed out and it worked pretty well for me. It still does. I do a TON of volume on the log because it helps.


Thanks for the advice guys. I think I'm going to do 10x10 log presses on thursdays and 5x3 Savickas presses on another day each week - maybe on event days depending on which events and how my back is feeling. I appreciate the feedback, and I'm pretty confident that I'll hit my goal!


my shoulders have always been one of the lagging points of my workout as well. i recently switched over to savickas presses myself in an attempt to get some growth outta them.


Already seeing results from performing Savickas Presses and from shoulder height as suggested... four workouts completed... first time was tough to say the least... I am now at my Strict Standing OHP 1RM so I can't wait to see what my Standing OHP 1RM will be after a couple more weeks of Savickas Pressing. Thanks a million gents.


Here's what I've been doing that has helped my press a lot

First, you need to make it a priority, I'm doing JW's 5/3/1 and he prescribes an OHP day so priority-check

Second, once I've done my prescribed 5/3/1 reps of strict OHP for that day, I'll work up to a max single of push-presses, or push jerks, whatever you want to call it

Third, I move on to assistance work which is scheduled a bit odd, but it works for me...on OHP day, I do side and rear lateral raises for overall shoulder health then chinups/pullups/core then biceps...

I know, I know...no triceps work, well that is my assistance work on Bench Day

After my bench 5/3/1 i'll do weighted dips at a light weight x 10's or a heavier weight x 5's, then I'll do overhead triceps extensions with the triceps bar with about 50 pounds on it x 10 reps for 3 or so sets.

The thing that struck me today while doing high-rep work with strict OHP is how the stress on my upper body was getting redistributed as certain muscle groups fatigued, reassured me that pressing anything overhead really takes primarily front delt, upper pec, and triceps strength, but strong lats, upper back, and even biceps are important...also wrist wraps, hehe.

Sorry for the rant, I'm just super stoked about my press lately and I want to train it everyday, but alas, I must squat and crap too, lol.


What is your overhead? On a strongman log.