T Nation

Overhead Press and O-Lifts

Seeing the success that two threads on olympic lifting are having here, the enthusiasm they seem to entail, the abscence of harsh rebukes by annoyed powerlifters, I thought I would push my luck, while I have more free time, and try another o-lifting related question: does the standard overhead press have much value for olympic weightlifters.

I have heard that many national level lifters in the higher weightclasses have trouble overhead pressing 225 (pounds), which means i can overhead press as much or almost as much as many national level lifters. This seemed to me pathetic on the part of the weightlifters, but it also indicated that maybe the overhead press is not that important. On the other hand, I have read in several articles, as well as the weightlifting encylcopedia, the opinion that the the removal of the overhead press from weightlifting, and its subsequent neglect in training, has lead to more shoulder injuries and a lack of usefull strength in o-lifters.

What do you all think? And if anyone wants to restart the debate about the safety of overhead pressses, with new opinions, I’d be happy to hear that too.

I think that the 225lbs you read was actually 225 kilos. I have a hard time believing that a guy like Shane Hammond would not be able to press that amount of weight.
I’m sure they don’t train the press as much as they do the jerk but someone that could jerk over 400 LBS would definetly be able to press at least 225 LBS.
Just my opinion.

I think the reason you haven’t seen any harsh remarks on oly lifting by powerlifters is becuase were not stupid…there 2 completely diffirent sports…I think people that debate the two sports are idiots…its like debating football vs baseball 2 completely diffirent sports…I wish all oly lifters succsses in there training…bm

My unhindered T-Style thought on oh pressing:

If you don’t you’re a bitch.

A bit more thought out:

I think you should have a variety of everything and that everything should be trained at certain periods. Mind you they are olympic lifters so don’t think that they don’t oh pressing, cause they do(jerk, drop snatch, etc).

My best friend o-lifts competitively in England, and has one of the most well rounded lifting schedules I’ve ever seen. He doesn’t military press often, but he’s in a period currently where he is military pressing (quite a coincidence with this thread)- he can press close to 2x his body weight!

Hopefully we’ll get someone more knowledgeable to post their opinion.

my 25cents(sorry inflation),


I agree with Big Martin. PL and OL are two different sports and those who debate which one is better are idiots. I happen to like both sports.

As for your question, I think a lot of what you hear applies to: 1. the elite level lifters; and 2. the lower weight classes, i.e., all weight classes below super heavy. These guys and gals need to maximize their strength-to-weight ratio. To do this, they avoid any type of training that would put on any “unneeded” muscle mass and hence, extra weight. At the elite level, they can worry about stuff like this. So yes, these guys probably don’t OH press above 225 or so. If their jerk technique allows them to hold 500 or so lbs. overhead while be able to only strict press 225, why build up “unneeded” shoulder muscle and gain and extra pound of bodyweight? But these guys are elite, and their technique has been honed to a fine point. For the superheavies, it doesn’t matter, since they can gain all the weight they want, and the more weight and muscle mass the better (usually). For the rest of us, it also doesn’t matter. Our technique isn’t close to being as refined as these guys’ technique. I would be that non-elite OLers who would be considered as having very good technique for their level probably “muscle” their lifts to some degree.

Bottom line - if you want to do well at the non-elite level in OL, get brutally strong in all your muscle groups. Strong shoulders will help you get that jerk overhead.

It was 225 pounds, and I did not read this, but I was talking to a guy who had been an official in national level olympic lifting. He did not specify the exact weight classes, but he lead me to believe this was the bigger guys, and I do not think he was talking about olympic level lifters at all: I know at least some of the people he was refering to were master level lifters, and all of them compete on the “national” level (whatever that means, I do not know).

I agree with Big Martin, they are two different sports, and require identical amounts of sacrifice and hard work. We should spend more time supporting each other (perhaps joint meets), because that would make both sport stronger.

I think that 225 lb number should be kg, if not then it is an understatement, one that may have started as 400lbs, and worked its way down to 225lbs.

As far as the value of the press for OL goes, it is most valuable to novice lifters who need to develop baseline strength, but not as important to elite lifters. This is covered in ?Science and Practice of Strength Training?, in which Zatsiorsky states that many times coaches and athletes spend too much time training force, and not enough time training the rate at which force is applied.

I personally use Olympic Presses and Snatch Grip presses behind neck in my training, but my shoulders always recover quickly from my workouts, and I never had a shoulder injury due to weight training, others may not be as lucky.

Funny I just added some old-school presses to my workouts last week. Do they add value to the classic lifts? No, I think they are of value only to beginners to learn something of a bar path overhead. If the press had any real value, it would be practised more often, but it isn’t. I don’t think presses even add any protection against shoulder injuries, but they wouldn’t hurt either. Both the snatch and the jerk involve a fast elbow lockout with the shoulders locked out, more of joint position strength than pressing strentgh. I added them for fun, and it’s challenging (and humbling) to learn the skill of pressing explosively without any leg involvement.