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Overhead Press for Powerlifting.


Is it necessary?

I have been starting to pop up a nagging injury while pressing in the last few months, and it has caused me to take time off completely.

I haven't been in the gym to lift in 6 days, just trying to give it rest.

I've been training for just under 3 years now, and I have not had time to do a real meet yet. I really don't want to have a serious issue before I even get on the platform.

I am looking of anecdotal evidence. A lot of Russian systems don't even program overhead pressing.

My questions are...

Is overhead pressing a necessary element of powerlifting training?

Should I train it with the same intensity of my squat/bench/deadlift?

What is your total?

Please answer all three if you can.

Thanks in advance.


It is necessary if it makes your bench go up. If not, it's not.

See how it affects your lifts and go from there.

Last official total was in 2012, 1439 at 181. My current gym total at 198 is 1565.


I'd argue that nothing is really necessary if it's causing enough pain that you can't train for a week. Even if overhead pressing was the ONLY thing that could increase your bench(which it most likely isn't), if you have to take time off/ think it's going to cause an injury it would be better just to focus on squat/ bench for the time being in my opinion.

If you can train it with lower intensity without pain then I'd say thats the route to go.

Totals only 1200 raw w/ wraps at 181.


Thanks for the responses guys.

Any suggestions on how to train around it?

I know Joe Defranco can put up 405 pretty easily, and he doesn't train any direct shoulder work.


I am thinking that I can probably just replace overhead pressing with a few rounds of his programming to try to keep my shoulder size and base strength.

I just want to make the platform haha.


I'm fond of partials myself. Working within the area of ROM where I am painfree has been helpful. Chain suspended work helps there.


It's not necessary by any means. I haven't done regular overhead work in about five years, and this is the first time in my training life that my shoulders feel good. I did little to no overhead work when powerlifting in high school and was benching over 300 at 165.

I currently bench in the 430-440 range at 198, 413.5 at my last meet. I press sometimes because I like doing it, but it always hurts me past a certain point.


I was talking to Clint Darden the other day, and he said that he can barely get his hand above his head.

It has dawned on me that a lot of very strong men don't do overhead work.

Obviously if you were doing strongman, and the events include overhead event, you would need to train it.

I am seeing a trend in my own reading that a lot of guys see it as a movement that taxes the joint a lot if you aren't built for it, and therefore it is unnecessary because you can get similar carryover from simply benching more.


I know I was making jokes about overhead pressing in the last thread that posed this question, but I believe that I have "stubbed my toe" and found that there is something to be said for sport specific training.


It isn't necessary at all for powerlifting, but if you can't do it comfortably you have a serious musculature problem.


I'm not sure what exactly I am dealing with to be honest. I cannot find help to save my life.

I don't have any definite symptoms, just some aches and pains here and there.

When I try to replicate them, I can't.

I have literally tried everything I know, and everything I can find on the internet to find the cause. I need an MRI.

I have a doctor's appointment coming up, but it is going to be a while.

Taking a week or so completely off while school is crazy is the safe option in my opinion.

I can come back later feeling better, with better programming. I do believe that regaining strength and muscle is a thousand times easier than building it the first time around.


I keep banging away at overhead work because I want to improve (or at least maintain) my overhead mobility and strength. Since I'm so poor in that ROM, I don't think that the loading would have any measurable effect on my bench press, but even if this were the case, I'd rather still be able to overhead press in twenty years and sacrifice 10 kg on my bench press than vice versa. I've also found that, since it's a weak link, training the OHP requires a ton of discipline from me, which is always good to practice.

Also, I can't imagine that working the shoulders just in one plane (i.e., with bench presses and rows) for the length of one's athletic career would be ideal. Maybe it's bro science, but I like to "hit the shoulders" from different angles to keep them up to snuff.

Incidentally, my current est. total is LOL (530 kg/1166 lbs) at 87 kg/192 lbs BW, so take my advice with a big-ass grain of salt.


I think that I am finding that, if you can tolerate it without an injury, it makes sense to train shoulders in this manner.

Trust me, I created this thread to make myself feel better about dropping the press from my regular programming.

I don't like to think that I can't do a lift that I love, but I don't like to think that it may put me out of a sport that I am growing to love before I can even participate in it.

I am also going to switch from wide grip pull up to narrow-neutral grip chin ups for the sake of my shoulders as well.

I am going to drop dips.

I want to be in this sport for 20 years. Having a shoulder problem as a novice lifter 2.5 years out (185x2 at 215 lbs bodyweight) doesn't seem like a good way to start my powerlifting career.

I am just trying to come to terms with the fact that, FOR ME, the risk reward ratio might be unbalanced. I may be better off doing a second bench session, and lateral raises/rear laterals/face pulls.

And, your total isn't bad. I would be proud of it, and I would love to hit that with sound form some day. I just tossed in the "post up your total" thing because of the fact that I feel it prevents guys who cannot bench bodyweight from turning this into a shit storm.


Don't post often, but got a particular love for the strict OHP.

Nothing is "essential" (well, besides doing the lifts if you're a competitive powerlifter.)

In my case, I'm a horrible bencher who often gets injured from benching. No technique change or amount of upper back or external rotation work could change it. Overhead pressing seems to be the only thing that keeps my shoulders from not being destroyed by flat benching.

I make better progress on my bench press by only benching once a week (or every two weeks), and overhead pressing twice. I have to repeat that this is not necessarily because OHP made me stronger (although it did), but mostly because it allowed me to progress in a pressing movement while not getting injured.

I assume you need to make similar conclusions and drop it if it bothers you. I'd still argue you need to be able to do at least "some" overhead pressing, since the movement is a bit more natural than a flat bench press (lack of scapular movement etc etc).

Best meet total: 1212lbs (550kg) @ 165lbs (75kg), best gym total 1245 (565kg). Belt only. Best paused bench is 115kg, nothing to write home about. Best OHP is 82,5kg, 7,5kg over BW, more proud of that one.


I understand you are just looking for observations other people have had, anecdotal stuff, but, its up to you to figure out which movements achieve your goals. For me personally, as much as i enjoy powerlifting specifially, I enjoy an overhead press PR just as much as I enjoy a comeptition paused flat bench PR. I cant really say if it has good carryover.

With that said, I think for me its more a factor of how often (frequency+volume) I can press on a flat plane, or close to it. If I just bench bench bench, maybe incline bench? i start getting those little nagging injuries. If i toss in an OHP day, I seem to get less, and Im at least still pressing. Im actually just now dealing through my first time with significant shoulder problems, and theres a lack of overhead work in my log the months prior. I dont know whether having stronger shoulders or just flat benching less frequently is responsible for keeping me feelin good, but the end result works.

Your question about intensity in the lift is a whole nother issue, imo. Short answer: yes you should train it just as hard.


Have you tried incorporating the diesel crew shoulder rehap program. Worked wonders for me.


I saw my bench numbers go up when I added 10 lbs. to my overhead press, and I didn't even bench during that time. However, I have long arms, and lifters with long arms tend to use their shoulders to a greater extent while benching, so what worked for me may not necessarily work for you.


I would never say that something other than bench/squat/deadlift is required for powerlifting. Its just another tool to increase benching from a powerlifting perspective. I would say take the time off, dont rush back into it. And maybe try a different variation of the type of pressing that hurt, I rarely do standing OHP, i prefer seated db or barbell.


I haven't done the rehab program, but I incorporate a lot of those movements into my own rehab protocol.

I do their shoulder warmup every time I do upper body.


I have seen it recommended that barbell shoulder pressing should be done seated to the top of the head. It does seem like the most carryover I got to my bench when I was doing them in a dedicated shoulder press bench and watching the bar almost touch my forehead before reversing. The bottom part of the press is the part that really gets my shoulders annoyed anyway. I don't like the utility benches either. I like a full bench put in the highest position and taking the barbell from the top instead of the bottom. With that said, at the time I was doing them I only had a 325 gym TNG not bounced bench at 180 so not very spectacular compared to most of the guys above me.


Completely untrue. All people will experience shoulder impingement from too much overhead work, but the biggest variable is anatomy. A particularly prominent or beaked acromion makes doing anything overhead consistently a risky endeavor, let alone pressing overhead under load.