T Nation

Overhead Pressing Stalling After 3 Cycles


#1

I’m in the 3rd cycle of 5/3/1 and today I did 3x in my 1+ set of OHP.
It was a whole shitty training day for various reasons, but I’ve been feeling that OHP is not progressing as it should for a while now, so next cycle I want to reset it back 3 cycles.
I’m 170lbs and did 119lbs x3, which puts the 1RM to 132lbs, 75% of my bodyweight. It’s not too lousy, but I really want to shoot for 1xbw on the OHP, I just feel that in these three months progress has been damn slow even for a slow lift like OHP.

I also want to revise the assistance stuff I’m doing, what would be the recommended exercises (and what sets/rep schemes and weights) if I wanted to focus on OHP?
This is what I had in mind:
-OHP day: dips 5x10 (bw); dumbbells OHP 5x10 (how much weight tho?); overhead shrugs 3-4 x8. OHP is superset with band pull aparts, everything else with face pulls

-BENCH day: high pulls 5x3 or 3x5; weighted dips 5/3/1; behind the neck press 5x10; close grip bench press 5x10. Weighted dips are superset with band pull aparts, everything else with chinups. Wondering which one should go first after dips, if btn press or cgbp.
There’s possibly room for another exercise, I’ve read about the 3-way dumbbell raise (10 side, 10 rear and 10 front raises done back to back for a total of 3 sets) but I’m not sure if it’s wise to add it.

Any suggestion very gratefully accepted


#2

The simple answer is you set your training max ™ way to high to start. On your first cycle you should have easily hit 10-15 reps on your 5’s week, 8-12 reps on your 3’s week and 6-10 or more on your 1’s week. Reset your TM and use something like BBB same lift at 50% of TM for supplemental work. I’d get rid of a bunch of the other crap too. For example, I’m about 40 cycles in and today I hit 160# for 10 reps on my 5’s weeks. Then did BBB for 5x10 at 95#. I supersetted all my pressing with chins and then did a few sets of curls at the very end. Also, make sure you deload every 7th week and use the 5 forward /3 back principle. If you don’t know what all that means, buy the book.


#3

Too much assistance from the looks of it as well. For example you have 50 reps of dips, followed by 50 reps of DB press on your press day. Pick one or the other or drop the volume.


#4

You’re hitting above the required reps, so for me personally I would stick with it for a couple cycles. You need to learn to grind with OHP, it is a stubborn lift.

Anyway if want to change it up: gains in a bottle as far as OHP concerned…


#5

Thanks, some replies:

Thought about it but issue is, I tested my 1RM the week right before I started 5/3/1. I’m running the very base program so I set the TM at 90% and that could be too high (even if Jim in the first book mentions that people usually go 5-7 cycles before stalling), which leads to the following point:

Never hit that many to be honest. My 5+ are in the 9-10 range, 3+ at 7-8 and 1+ at 6-7.
I was suggested here on the forum to hit at least 4 solid reps in the 1+ day (with the 90% TM), before resetting.

I have both the basic and the beyond book, haven’t read beyond yet since I’m running the basic one

I don’t have the book here right now but If I recall correctly, the BBB template was: main lift 5x10 at about 50% of the TM, followed by other two lifts - like dips 5x10 and chinups 5x10.
What would be the recommended lifts? Consider that I’d prefer NOT to do chinups on OHP day. Because I have Deadlift day right after that, I don’t want to fatigue lats, I prefer to do rows and chinups on Deadlift day.
So a BBB OHP template would be - 5x10 OHP at 50% TM, 5x10 dips (?) and 5x10 face pulls (superset with previous exercises?).
I seem to recall the BBB challenge posted on the website had a couple more assistance exercises

I’ve noticed some grind is necessary in OHP. I know that AMRAP sets are supposed to be solid (little to no grind) reps but there is just no way to get a fluid OHP for reps on 1+ days.
As for the challenge, thanks for the suggestion, I’ve had my eye on that for a while with a few issues… namely, I don’t know how to clean. I’m practicing high pulls and wanted to start working on technique for power cleans and muscle snatches in the next weeks, on a separate day with lighter weights, so I can get the technique down and then add them to the routine.
My gym only has standard barbells, standard plates and no platform, so I gotta be careful with olympic style stuff, sadly.
Also, can squats be replaced by front squats on that challenge? And what about the neck stuff, does it require the neck harness?


#6

The best assistance/accessory to build your OHP is more OHP. Some variations I’ve tried that worked well are 5x5 FSL, 5x10 @50/60/70% etc…

The one that really worked the best for me, however, was FSL AMRAP and FSL rest-pause. Try any of these on OHP day. These two templates shot my ability to hit reps through the roof. At the end of a 6 week cycle of Building the Monolith I hit 135x17 on the Press. At the beginning of BTM, I hit 125x13. That program has you pressing twice a week, one day with volume (10-15x5@FSL) and one day doing FSL AMRAP. If you want to get your Press up really fast, follow BTM as written. AS WRITTEN.


#7

You aren’t doing a proven program.

I would recommend doing the hardgainers program or something similar. If you haven’t had proven, amazing success with your personal programming, maybe it’s time to do something that has worked. Also, you may want to look into Leaders/Anchors and the 7th week protocol. You would never, ever stall then.

So do the program! It’s all been done before.


#8

Thanks, it seems it’s time to read Beyond after all.
Only thing I don’t have clear is - since everything else is improving, should I take those parts like Leader/Anchors and FSL and apply them exclusively to OHP, or should I go into a whole specific program entirely (like hardgainers or, as marc suggested, monolith)?
Because on one side there is obviously the need to fix the OHP, on the other side I keep reading that if ain’t broke don’t fix it, and squats and DLs are definitely not broken currently


#9

If you’ve stalled on one lift but the others are fine then you reset your TM for that lift only. I’m in the same boat. Maxed out before starting the program, finishing my 4th cycle now, and barely getting the minimum reps. I’ve seen the TM drop to 80 or 85% instead of the original 90 so I’m going to try that next cycle. Start too light, right?

Read Beyond. It builds on the original; it doesn’t replace it. Jim also put a lot of sample programs in it for various goals.


#10

And just to spite me, today I did 8 reps on my 1+ Deadlift day. Previous month I did 7. Funny enough, previous week I did 8 too on 3+ day, only difference being the use of the belt today and the fact that a girl agreed to go out with me if I hit at least 7 reps.
Jim you should add a subtitle like “and the best template to get laid” on the next book


#11

I can confirm that 5/3/1 for hardgainers is great for building your press. I’ve only done three weeks and I’ve already noticed an improvement in how easy presses feel at what was a heavy weight. With all the submaximal pressing you do in it I can’t see how it won’t improve. And also just because it’s being mentioned to be good for pressing doesn’t mean it isn’t good for the other lifts too. I highly recommend.


#12

Yeah squats can be replaced, for front squats. For me neck work is optional if you want a big neck(I didnt do it myself)


#13

Thanks again!

I was rereading the original book before reading Beyond and there’s a thing that left me perplexed.
Basically, “assistance work #1: boring but big” is made of:
-5/3/1 main lift sets
-5x10 of the same lift
-5x10 of another exercise
About the weight %, it says: “The first time you try this, go light. Very light. Go with something you know will be easy – maybe around 30-40% of your training max. From there, you can work with 50-60%”

But then, a few pages later, there is the chapter “Programming Your Assistance Work – The Simplest Strength Template”, which is made up of the main lift in 5/3/1, a related lift with 3 sets of increasing %s and then 3-4 other exercises suggested in the 3x10-20 range.
This is an example straight from the book:
Press – 65%x5, 75%x5, 85%x5+
Close Grip Bench Press – 50%x10, 60%x10, 70%x10
Lats, Upper Back, Triceps, Biceps

I was wondering, it seems there’s a huge difference between BBB and this one. On one side, you have main lift + 5x10 same lift in the 50-60% range + 5x10 another exercise in the 50-60% range; on the other side you have main lift + 3x related lift in the 50-85% range + 3-4 other exercises. There’s a lot of difference in volume.


#14

Not quite. The assistance listed in the second example is simply a suggestion with the body parts not directly addressed by the 5/3/1 template. Lats assistance work is usually pull ups or chin ups. Upper back is commonly band pull aparts between your sets of bench and overhead press. These are still done with BBB.

The reason the book just lists muscle groups and maybe some total reps is because you’re supposed to program your own assistance work based on your weaknesses and goals. So many people ask about assistance that Jim puts out templates that you can follow but ultimately you need to pick your own exercises, intensity, and volume based on your needs.


#15

Hmmm correct, but with more direct arm work in the second template (triceps/biceps) if I’m not mistaken.
About BBB and working up from 40 to 60%, how do people usually do it? Like week1 - 40%, week2 - 50%%, week3 - 60%? Or is it better to start light for a pair of cycles and add slowly then keep it always towards 60%?

I was thinking about giving a try to this for about 3 cycles before getting into the Beyond templates:
-reset the OHP back 3 cycles
-DAY1: OHP 5/3/1 (+pull aparts), OHP 5x10 (+face pulls), rear raises and triceps pushdowns (3x10 or whatever)
-DAY2: DL 5/3/1, Snatch Grip DL 5x10, Chinups (weighted), biceps, abs (leg raises, front lever)
-DAY 3: Weighted Dips 5/3/1 (+pull aparts), Kroc Rows, Close Grip Bench Press 5x10 (+face pulls), chinups (bodyweight)+biceps
-DAY 4: Front Squats 5/3/1, Leg Press 5xpyramid down, Goblet Squat 5x10, Good Mornings 5x10
-DAY 5: power clean practice with extremely low weights, some abs and biceps work

NOTES:
-I prefer not to do direct lat work the day before deadlifts;
-I threw in rear raises because I have the suspect that rear delts are a weak link;
-Weighted chinups and leg raises on DL day work good as decompression exercises for the spine after DLs & SGDLs;
-Snatch Grip DLs will come in handy to practice the hook grip initially;
-I should perform better on Kroc Rows doing them on a different day than DL day (like I’m doing now);
-I’d really prefer to practice Power Clean on a separate day before adding it to the schedule

Also, just finished this last cycle yesterday, hit 7 reps on 1+ front squats sets, with the last rep paused at the bottom. Overall except for the OHP issue the schedule has worked incredibly good to me


#16

wow… this is BS and has nothing to do with 531


#17

Care to elaborate?


#18

I don’t share his thoughts on it being BS but it drifts off the path of 5/3/1. I don’t know if weighted dips instead of bench count as 5/3/1. Lots of people like to swap front squats for back squats. It looks like you’re doing BBB but it appears you’ve swapped some exercises. The program has you do the same movement for 5/3/1 reps and the BBB reps. Leg Press and goblet squats don’t really count as squats for this purpose.

Why did you throw those in instead of just doing 5x10 on front squats? You’ll piss a lot of people off using the word leg press in your workout. It doesn’t matter because it’s your workout but you’ll see certain programs develop a cult-like following and the members get upset if you change anything (as if it directly affects their way of life). Changing a program is fine but make sure you stop calling it by the original program name and take full responsibility if it doesn’t work the way you want.

If you want to run BBB then do the 5x10 work with the same movement as your main 5/3/1 lift. The book says to start light because 50 extra reps might be a shock. I’d start with 50% of your TM.

I’m planning to run two cycles with BBB. I’ll try 50% for two weeks, 60% for two, and finish with two weeks of 70% (hopefully).

Back to your workout it looks like you’ve added a lot of volume. If it works then that’s fine but I’m not sure it’s all necessary. You have 100+ reps of pull aparts, face pulls, and reverse fly’s on day 1. Those all hit the same muscles for the most part. That’s also the workout before you Deadlift and do chins. Then you do more pull aparts on day 3 followed by a day of front squats with good mornings. Oh, yeah. You’re also planning to do 50 snatch grip deadlifts on day 2.

That’s A LOT of volume. I recommend picking one of your three back exercises on day 1. Do day 2 as planned. Do high rep pull aparts between your bench (or dip) sets on day 3. Do 5x10 front or back squats plus good mornings on day 4 after your 5/3/1 sets.

Personally I do 3 sets of pull ups between my warm up sets on my bench and OHP days. I also add a rowing exercise in those days. That’s about all I do. Unless you have a weakness or imbalance that needs corrected you don’t need stress about all of the pull aparts and face pulls. Throw them in during one or two cycles and then pick a different movement. It’s not necessary to do everything all at once.


#19

Going by points:
-dips because I don’t want to bench, I’m no powerlifter so I don’t have the dire need to train it, it’s a movement I don’t like and that doesn’t feel good on my shoulder. There is no evidence for dips being a subpar option for strength and mass development of a common mortal who doesn’t have to bench for competition
-pull aparts are 10 between sets. So it’s 2 warmup sets + 3 work sets, 50 pull aparts
-face pulls are 5 between sets, so it’s 25 face pulls
(i do pull aparts and face pulls for general shoulder health, my right shoulder was messed up when I began training an year ago)
-rear raises are 3x10, so 30 reps
-mixing the BBB exercises: various things.
I picked Snatch Grip DLs because I’m weaker on the initial pull of the lift and Snatch Grip DLs put more emphasis on that portion, I see them like a more specialized assistance tool and I don’t think that (with properly scaled loads) 5x10 SGDLs are heavier than 5x10 conventional DLs.
Front squats, I don’t want to do them in 5x10. I’m sweating hard to perfect the technique on those and both technique and loads have been increasing steadily since I began 5/3/1. Even with lower weights, keeping the proper posture and thoracic aligment in front squats gets hard very quickly. I don’t want to half ass entire sets because of cumulating fatigue.
Goblet squats, they barely qualify as exercise. They’re fairly light and I’ve been using them for a while for technique work doing paused reps and working on depth and thoracic posture, which has helped me in front squats since mobility was/is my #1 issue.
Leg press, I do it with a similar initial stance to what I use on the Deadlift. Same as above, on DLs I’m weaker in the first pull, since I’ve started doing leg press in a similar initial stance, I noticed I can move my bar quicker off the ground.
Close grip bench press: I’d prefer it to 5x10 bodyweight dips because it’s a more shoulder friendly version of the bench and I don’t mind it being more triceps-focused. While it doesn’t allow to move as much weight as the regular bench press, it’s considered pretty much on the same level in terms of strength development, same way front squats are to squats

The one back exercise for day 1 you mention would be either one between pull aparts, face pulls and rear raises, correct?


#20

Yes on the back accessory work. Just split that up over multiple days. Nothing wrong with doing pull aparts on your leg days since they’re low intensity.

I didn’t say your program was bad or wrong; it just doesn’t appear to be the 5/3/1 stuff. My recommendations are in line with the templates. Like I said, you don’t have to do the same thing as someone else. As you progress on your journey you try new things and add what you like and dismiss what doesn’t work for you. Ultimately you learn to write your own programs.

As I said before, if you’re going to tweak and change a program or template just be careful of calling it the original.