T Nation

Overhead Pressing Then Bench Press?


CT said in his article, High-Performance Mass Program - Upper Body Pressing, that doing overhead pressing movements FIRST, and the bench press later in the workout would help keep your shoulder healthy in the long run.

Keeping this in mind, I'm wondering how one would go about incorporating that philosophy into a 5/3/1 split, based on the fact that the overhead pressing and bench press days are different.



To state the obvious, to follow CT's programming you would have to do both on the same day. :slightly_smiling:

FYI I've been using the 5/3/1 split now for 6 weeks. I firmly believe the OHP has improved my shoulder health - i'm even thinking of switching back to the barbell instead of the dumbbells for the bench press. After using DB's exclusively for the last 3-4 years of my on but mostly off training history. I probably have 18-20 mths of solid training over that period.


You would have to adjust it to your needs. I have been running 5/3/1 for about a year and have had good luck with it. I am currently trying out a diffrent strongman variation with two lifts a week and a a event day. I did ct's upper body push protocol yesterday and am really pleased with it. No shoulder pain! So I am thinking of using this as a upper push assist day.


IMO, you have to decide between the two. Both CT's split and 5/3/1 both have their merits, but why try to ruin a good thing and try to alter the 5/3/1 split?


I agree, and that's why I was a little hesitant to ask this. The reason it occurred to me is because I recently sustained a (very minor) shoulder injury (unrelated to my training) and it made me realize that I need to seriously think about long term shoulder health considering I'm only 18 and have already had my first shoulder problem. I think now's a good time to start taking measures to try to prevent similar problems in the future, if that makes sense.


It's good to take precautions, shoulder impingement is very common. I'd look up some of the great articles here on rotator cuff health.


I've done it and my shoulders did feel better


How about starting the bench day with an activation exercise like light, explosive push presses? It shouldn't interfere with your bench but should be able to warm you up and make sure you don't have shoulder problems.


For your bench day, ramp up the overhead press, then switch to incline. Then do your usual 5/3/1 on the flat bench. No need to bench press on your overhead press day.


I'd agree. I've been experimenting with CT's whole approach and I like it a lot. However, if you want to keep the 5/3/1 base, I'd just do this. Light, quick activation circuits at the beginning of my workout (not a whole neural charge workout, just a couple exercises) + some explosive low rep overhead pressing alternated with light face pulls/rear delts have helped a lot.

something like this:

activation: explosive push-up, explosive fat man rows 3 circuits of 5 reps on each exercise. Maybe throw kb swings or db snatch in there for 3 reps each

OH press---pretend a 3 RM (true heavy triple) of 120 lb dbs (240 total lbs) for seated db press....

40 x 5
50 x 5
60 x 3
70 x 3
80 x 3

alternated light sets of face-pulls or rear delt flyes in between those sets.

then go to your bench. Start at 160 lbs.

that's some really light overhead presses, and they're all low rep. your top set is only, what, 66% of your max triple? Easy and not draining. great warm-up.

I did something almost identical when playing around, except for weight, and it works fantastically.


Check your external shoulder rotators.

See this video for one of the best exercises to strengthen them:

I started doing these with a 15lb DB for high reps - once I could really feel the target muscle burning after 4-6 sets, 12-15 reps, I switched to a faster tempo with heavier weight. Now, some months later, I do 45lb DB for 6-8 reps with a X0X0 tempo. In the same time, my close grip bench has gone up 50 lbs. Coincidence...?

P.S. Facepulls also excellent.


Thanks for all the advice. I think I'm going to start off doing light shoulder activation exercises for the time being, along with some rotator cuff movements. I feel like using CT's OHP, incline, then bench regiment might be a better option when I decide to take a break from 5/3/1 as opposed to trying to mesh the two ideologies together right now.


Okay, another question: would it make more sense to put the rotator cuff movements (face pulls, external rotation) before my bench along with the light shoulder activation exercises, or to put those movements before/during my OHP day (as per 5/3/1)?


Do your prehab movements as often as you can.

Personally in the last three months I've been staggering a set of face pull and/or "poor man's rotator cuff" (as shown in the first video) between ALL OF MY SETS of EVERY EXERCISE. I went from a mild impingement (even DB bench press was painful) to a Smolov Jr cycle for bench pain-free.

Don't forget the broomstick stretch for shoulders; do it at home, first thing in the morning, last thing at night.

I'm being a bit extreme, I know, but three half-assed sets of face-pulls aren't going to change a thing inyour shoulder (I've been there, done that, then decided to make things happen).


That is the first video I have seen with Charles. Damn he's a brick shithouse!


Great advice, thanks.