T Nation

Really? Shoulder Press Lagging


#1

Good afternoon fellow lifters. I have a dilemma I need to share and hopefully I can get some helpful information on it. I am currently 177lbs at about 10% or so bf 5'11" and I've been lifting for 2 years. I recently just started the "Starting Strength Advanced Novice Program", this is my second stab at this program since I had to stop in the middle of it before about 7 months ago. Also today was the end of my 2nd week. Ended on Squat, Standing OHP, and weighted pullups just a few hours ago.

Now before I explain it further, I am not doing a staggered stance, feet are about shoulder width apart and my hand position is kind of wide (pinkies are wrapped around the single ring on an olympic bar). I have only been on this program for 2 weeks and yes I have tried deloading/resetting weight in the past and it hasn't worked, I've tried going down as much as 20 pounds and slowly working back up passed 125 but it doesn't work.

I have always struggled on this lift and can't figure out anything that could help, should I try another exercise? Or should I just keep trying? or what? nothing seems to work.

Thanks guys


#2

[quote]snipervirus1775 wrote:
Good afternoon fellow lifters. I have a dilemma I need to share and hopefully I can get some helpful information on it. I am currently 177lbs at about 10% or so bf 5’11" and I’ve been lifting for 2 years. I recently just started the “Starting Strength Advanced Novice Program”, this is my second stab at this program since I had to stop in the middle of it before about 7 months ago. Also today was the end of my 2nd week. Ended on Squat, Standing OHP, and weighted pullups just a few hours ago.

Now before I explain it further, I am not doing a staggered stance, feet are about shoulder width apart and my hand position is kind of wide (pinkies are wrapped around the single ring on an olympic bar). I have only been on this program for 2 weeks and yes I have tried deloading/resetting weight in the past and it hasn’t worked, I’ve tried going down as much as 20 pounds and slowly working back up passed 125 but it doesn’t work.

I have always struggled on this lift and can’t figure out anything that could help, should I try another exercise? Or should I just keep trying? or what? nothing seems to work.

Thanks guys[/quote]

Welcome to T-Nation.

I didn’t have the strongest military press but what worked well was engaging my lats while in the rack position. You might have heard the saying of creating a shelf with your lats. So regardless of your grip width make sure your lats are tight and chest is up.

When pressing, your erectors and abs should be tight while you’re spreading the floor by engaging your glutes and hip flexors. Stabilizing the hips and spine is a common theme for all spinal loading movements.

Something I’ve been using over the past month that has worked really well is doing face pulls with a band and finishing with an overhead press. This is my favorite accessory work. The entire time I focus on getting everything tight: erectors, abs, glutes, hip flexors, and chest up. Try that out and if you make sure to get all those muscles tight, you’ll get progress going again.


#3

[quote]lift206 wrote:

[quote]snipervirus1775 wrote:
Good afternoon fellow lifters. I have a dilemma I need to share and hopefully I can get some helpful information on it. I am currently 177lbs at about 10% or so bf 5’11" and I’ve been lifting for 2 years. I recently just started the “Starting Strength Advanced Novice Program”, this is my second stab at this program since I had to stop in the middle of it before about 7 months ago. Also today was the end of my 2nd week. Ended on Squat, Standing OHP, and weighted pullups just a few hours ago.

Now before I explain it further, I am not doing a staggered stance, feet are about shoulder width apart and my hand position is kind of wide (pinkies are wrapped around the single ring on an olympic bar). I have only been on this program for 2 weeks and yes I have tried deloading/resetting weight in the past and it hasn’t worked, I’ve tried going down as much as 20 pounds and slowly working back up passed 125 but it doesn’t work.

I have always struggled on this lift and can’t figure out anything that could help, should I try another exercise? Or should I just keep trying? or what? nothing seems to work.

Thanks guys[/quote]

Welcome to T-Nation.

I didn’t have the strongest military press but what worked well was engaging my lats while in the rack position. You might have heard the saying of creating a shelf with your lats. So regardless of your grip width make sure your lats are tight and chest is up.

When pressing, your erectors and abs should be tight while you’re spreading the floor by engaging your glutes and hip flexors. Stabilizing the hips and spine is a common theme for all spinal loading movements.

Something I’ve been using over the past month that has worked really well is doing face pulls with a band and finishing with an overhead press. This is my favorite accessory work. The entire time I focus on getting everything tight: erectors, abs, glutes, hip flexors, and chest up. Try that out and if you make sure to get all those muscles tight, you’ll get progress going again.[/quote]

One thing I would add is to stick your head through. When going up from your chest you push your head slightly back so it istn’ in the way. As soon as you pass your head you push your head forward “sticking it through” is the general clue for that. If you are doing it rigth the center of gravity should be approximately above the middle of your feet at all times.


#4

Thanks for your replies. I really never pay attention to if I do those things that you suggested. I feel like it would be one of those things that someone would just get used to doing but I will be sure to take a few extra moments to make sure I do what was suggested. And I usually stick my head through, I’ve tried not sticking my head through, as I’ve read that it honestly doesn’t matter, whatever is more comfortable for the individual. I’ve just struggled alot with this lift and it is really frustrating.


#5

I feel like you may get more help posting this in the bigger/stronger/leaner forum vs powerlifting due to the fact that the overhead isn’t a competition lift for powerlifting. If the strongman forum actually got some more traffic, it probably would be the best place to post it, haha.

My press got much stronger when I started including more assistance work for it. I have found that upper body pressing requires more “bodybuilding” type work compared to the lower body, and my presses always go up whenever I include some isolation exercises.

You may consider doing something like Joe DeFraco’s “Shoulder Shocker”, or just a 3 way shoulder raise circuit, or something along that nature. The 3 sets of 5 in starting strength is very little volume, and may not be doing the trick to get the shoulders to grow. Otherwise, you might consider a backoff set after the primary work, where you strip weight down and shoot for 10-20 reps.


#6

[quote]T3hPwnisher wrote:
I feel like you may get more help posting this in the bigger/stronger/leaner forum vs powerlifting due to the fact that the overhead isn’t a competition lift for powerlifting. If the strongman forum actually got some more traffic, it probably would be the best place to post it, haha.

My press got much stronger when I started including more assistance work for it. I have found that upper body pressing requires more “bodybuilding” type work compared to the lower body, and my presses always go up whenever I include some isolation exercises.

You may consider doing something like Joe DeFraco’s “Shoulder Shocker”, or just a 3 way shoulder raise circuit, or something along that nature. The 3 sets of 5 in starting strength is very little volume, and may not be doing the trick to get the shoulders to grow. Otherwise, you might consider a backoff set after the primary work, where you strip weight down and shoot for 10-20 reps.[/quote]

I might try the “backoff” set though, I know I’ve used them before, it’s definitely been a while. Do you think I should go to failure on these? I’m doing them twice a week every other week, and once a week ever other week besides that.


#7

What are you lifting in the squat, bench press & deadlift? Are your expectations realistic? It seems like you’ve just started doing the exercises again for 2 weeks. That’s not a long time. Strength on OHP takes quite a bit longer than bench press to develop.

It’s possible your form is a bit off. You can try bringing in your grip if it’s a bit wide, or widen if it’s a bit close. Squeeze your glutes. Flex your lats. Don’t let elbows get behind the bar (should be a bit up and forward) at the start.

Try wearing a belt.

Try doing them seated; they’re significantly easier this way, which can lead to faster progress. You don’t have to do them standing.

Try dumbbells.

But be sure to give it some time.


#8

[quote]snipervirus1775 wrote:

[quote]T3hPwnisher wrote:
I feel like you may get more help posting this in the bigger/stronger/leaner forum vs powerlifting due to the fact that the overhead isn’t a competition lift for powerlifting. If the strongman forum actually got some more traffic, it probably would be the best place to post it, haha.

My press got much stronger when I started including more assistance work for it. I have found that upper body pressing requires more “bodybuilding” type work compared to the lower body, and my presses always go up whenever I include some isolation exercises.

You may consider doing something like Joe DeFraco’s “Shoulder Shocker”, or just a 3 way shoulder raise circuit, or something along that nature. The 3 sets of 5 in starting strength is very little volume, and may not be doing the trick to get the shoulders to grow. Otherwise, you might consider a backoff set after the primary work, where you strip weight down and shoot for 10-20 reps.[/quote]

I might try the “backoff” set though, I know I’ve used them before, it’s definitely been a while. Do you think I should go to failure on these? I’m doing them twice a week every other week, and once a week ever other week besides that.

[/quote]

How do you define going to failure? I find many people have different interpretations of it.


#9

What worked for me (I was stuck at a press of 155 awhile back) was dropping the bench for 4 weeks and pressing twice a week. Make sure you do movements that don’t screw up your shoulder. Pain = bad.


#10

And I know this will bring a lot of flak, but I feel the starting strength and the 5x5 beginner program upper body routines suck. Everybody I know on them lagged in bench and overhead.


#11

Up until about February/March of this year I had a pretty relatively weak strict press mostly just from never doing it. With me switching to strongman events I really started to prioritize it. I would have to agree with what lift206 said about creating the shelf with your lats,find a position where your triceps are almost resting on your flared lats.

Just like a bench you want a stable platform to press from, when I see people breaking their backs bending backwards its usually cause they started with the weight just resting on their chest without any kind of back tightness. Just from fixing my form and strict pressing 1x a week I recently hit 255x3 which is a huge PR for me as the most previously I had done was 225 for a single, though it was a lift I rarely went heavy on.


#12

[quote]goochadamg wrote:
What are you lifting in the squat, bench press & deadlift? Are your expectations realistic? It seems like you’ve just started doing the exercises again for 2 weeks. That’s not a long time. Strength on OHP takes quite a bit longer than bench press to develop.

It’s possible your form is a bit off. You can try bringing in your grip if it’s a bit wide, or widen if it’s a bit close. Squeeze your glutes. Flex your lats. Don’t let elbows get behind the bar (should be a bit up and forward) at the start.

Try wearing a belt.

Try doing them seated; they’re significantly easier this way, which can lead to faster progress. You don’t have to do them standing.

Try dumbbells.

But be sure to give it some time.[/quote]

My squat is at 275x5, bench is 175x5, and deadlift at 350x5. And they are realistic yes, but iâ??ve never just failed like that only on the second week. The first week i started with 115, easy day, then 120 the second time, then 125 i could barely get it up the first set out of 5, it surprised me and kinda really just pissed me off. I know stuff happens but damn i did fine the other day on 125. I will try bringing in my grip as iâ??ve done in the past and see if that works. Iâ??ll be sure to keep everything in mind and iâ??ll definitely try the belt too, i donâ??t think iâ??ve tried that yet.

[quote]T3hPwnisher wrote:
How do you define going to failure? I find many people have different interpretations of it.[/quote]

Usually I mean to go until i know i canâ??t do one more rep, and have someone spot me if i need it. Sometimes I also try to get a forced rep in there if possible.

[quote]Aero51 wrote:
What worked for me (I was stuck at a press of 155 awhile back) was dropping the bench for 4 weeks and pressing twice a week. Make sure you do movements that don’t screw up your shoulder. Pain = bad.[/quote]

I was stuck on 155 when i was in spain for a while and couldnâ??t go back to it lmao. But i will prob try the narrower grip again. That is what i used when i got my 155 for 3.

[quote]cparker wrote:
I would have to agree with what lift206 said about creating the shelf with your lats,find a position where your triceps are almost resting on your flared lats.[/quote]

Yea I know about the lat thing iâ??ve been doing that with my elbows forward of my body just about. Iâ??ll try focusing on seeing if iâ??m tightening the rest of my core and my body for when i push it out maybe itâ??ll start increasing. Thanks!


#13

[quote]snipervirus1775 wrote:

Usually I mean to go until i know i canâ??t do one more rep, and have someone spot me if i need it. Sometimes I also try to get a forced rep in there if possible.

[/quote]

I would actually call that stopping before failure, as I generally understand going to failure to mean going until you actually fail on a rep.

I think training until you cannot do another rep isn’t a bad idea. The main goal here is to get some blood flowing to the muscles.


#14
  1. Try a slightly narrower grip. It is more efficient.

  2. Are you microloading? 5 lb jumps every workout is a lot for overhead press and not sustainable for very long for most lifters.

  3. Next time you stall, try reducing volume and increasing load. E.g. if you get 5/4/4 at 125, next session aim for 3x3 at 130. Keep adding weight to the bar until you can’t, then reset and do 5s again. You could even do 5x5 at the reset instead of 3x5, as you work back up.

  4. As others have mentioned, make sure form is good. Here’s a video.


#15

[quote]snipervirus1775 wrote:
The first week i started with 115, easy day, then 120 the second time, then 125 i could barely get it up the first set out of 5, it surprised me and kinda really just pissed me off.
[/quote]

This makes me wonder if you are eating enough.


#16

[quote]craze9 wrote:

  1. Try a slightly narrower grip. It is more efficient.

  2. Are you microloading? 5 lb jumps every workout is a lot for overhead press and not sustainable for very long for most lifters.

  3. Next time you stall, try reducing volume and increasing load. E.g. if you get 5/4/4 at 125, next session aim for 3x3 at 130. Keep adding weight to the bar until you can’t, then reset and do 5s again. You could even do 5x5 at the reset instead of 3x5, as you work back up.

  4. As others have mentioned, make sure form is good. Here’s a video.


[/quote]

I am going up by 5 every workout, so workout a this week was 120, and workout b was at 125, then next week i only do it once for workout b on wednesday at 130 if i didn’t miss 125, but i did so i’ll just try doing 115 with narrower grip next week to see what we can do with that.

I am doing it for 5x3 not 3x5, but i get the idea behind it. I’ll try my grip first and see where that puts me. If I do fail again though, i’ll try what you said and switch up the volume used and maybe do 5x5, or 3x5, or whatever i need to do.

[quote]craze9 wrote:

[quote]snipervirus1775 wrote:
The first week i started with 115, easy day, then 120 the second time, then 125 i could barely get it up the first set out of 5, it surprised me and kinda really just pissed me off.
[/quote]

This makes me wonder if you are eating enough.[/quote]

I am eating about 3100 calories a day spread with 5-6 different meals, getting about 1.5g/lb of protein, and 418 carbs with 52 grams of fat on workout days, and 1.2g/lb of protein on off days with lower carbs.


#17

Given your strength level, I’m not so sure there is any kind of a problem here. If you want to increase OHP faster, you’ll probably have to sacrifice some bench gains. I say just give it time. You’re not going to be able to add 5lbs a workout, or even a week, on OHP. It’s not realistic at all. You’re not a rank beginner.


#18

[quote]goochadamg wrote:
Given your strength level, I’m not so sure there is any kind of a problem here. If you want to increase OHP faster, you’ll probably have to sacrifice some bench gains. I say just give it time. You’re not going to be able to add 5lbs a workout, or even a week, on OHP. It’s not realistic at all. You’re not a rank beginner. [/quote]

Not sure what you mean by my strength level or rank beginner. I just said I started strength training like a week ago. Please explain


#19

[quote]snipervirus1775 wrote:

[quote]goochadamg wrote:
Given your strength level, I’m not so sure there is any kind of a problem here. If you want to increase OHP faster, you’ll probably have to sacrifice some bench gains. I say just give it time. You’re not going to be able to add 5lbs a workout, or even a week, on OHP. It’s not realistic at all. You’re not a rank beginner. [/quote]

Not sure what you mean by my strength level or rank beginner. I just said I started strength training like a week ago. Please explain[/quote]

You stated in the first post that you’ve been lifting for 2 years. Gaining 5lbs/week on OHP is extremely fast progress, and something only someone very new to lifting is going to do. The lift is difficult to progress on, much more so than even bench press. I’ve been lifting for quite a while, and my best seated barbell press is “only” 185x12. It took me more than a few years of work to get there, and ultimately a substantial increase in bodyweight. Conversely, 185x12 bench press is something I hit in about 1.5 years of lifting.

Your shoulder press isn’t “lagging.” It’s ~70% of your bench press. That’s normal. And if you don’t want to take my word for it, Mark Rippetoe himself says it: “That gives you a press/bench press ratio of 0.67, or about 2/3 press to bench, a decent strength distribution”(https://www.T-Nation.com/training/get-your-press-up)

Your lifts are all proportional to each other, IMHO. I would say stay the course, and just give it time. I would try to add 5lbs every 2 or 3 weeks to the OHP. You may also try adding smaller weights week to week (2.5lbs) by using something like platemates or making your own 1.25lb weights with some chain; I’ve seen others have success doing this in the past.


#20

[quote]cparker wrote:
Up until about February/March of this year I had a pretty relatively weak strict press mostly just from never doing it. With me switching to strongman events I really started to prioritize it. I would have to agree with what lift206 said about creating the shelf with your lats,find a position where your triceps are almost resting on your flared lats.

Just like a bench you want a stable platform to press from, when I see people breaking their backs bending backwards its usually cause they started with the weight just resting on their chest without any kind of back tightness. Just from fixing my form and strict pressing 1x a week I recently hit 255x3 which is a huge PR for me as the most previously I had done was 225 for a single, though it was a lift I rarely went heavy on.[/quote]

CParker, what’s your max bench? I recall reading it’s around 405, right? Maybe 365x3? So your press is also around about 70% of your bench press. How long have you been lifting?

I ask just to provide some perspective for snipervirus1775.