T Nation

Standing Overhead Press Advice


I'm actually not doing strongman training, but I figured you were the guys to ask about this.

I need advice on the weak link in my standing overhead press. I feel unstable around my lower back and abs. I'm not entirely sure if I need to strengthen my abs or lower back. Or both.

So my question is: What is the best way to do make me more stable in that area?

I'm torn between which is more effective for getting more stable at the overhead press:

  1. Isolation exercises for the areas. leg raises, crunches, etc.

  2. Static (or semi-static) exercises, like planks, overhead squats and static holds. This seems to be more specific for the overhead press.

  3. A combination of both.

Thanks in advance.



I'm not as strong as a lot of these guys, but I can tell you what I did to bring up my Push Press and OHP recently, realizing that I initially had the same problems it seems you are having.

1) Overhead Squats (once a week)
2) Hold the Standing OHP lockout for as long as you can, while keeping everything tight (I normally did this for a few sets at the end of my OHP work sets)
3) Front Squats (once or twice a week)
4) Get a belt for the heavier attempts if you don't have one already.

Hope that helps!



Thanks for the advice DTC. I have a leg injury, which seems to be aggrevated by doing front squats. So that is out of the question right now.

I will have room for overhead squats twice a week in my training plan, and I also do OHP on those days, so I'm thinking that on those two days I will add:
Static OHP at lockout
Overhead squats
Planks to exhaustion

Sound ok?

As for the belt; I don't really know if I want to use a belt. I'm interested in muscular development aswell as heavy lifts, and I don't really know if it will hinder my lower back area. I have zero experience in regards to that, and so I don't really know if it will be an issue?

On the other hand; I do use straps and forearm size is not an issue.


That should work pretty well I think. Again, others who are more experienced may have better advice but what I told you is what worked very well for me. It also wouldn't hurt to throw in Reverse Hypers on a leg day if you can just to keep the low back healthy.

As far as the belt goes: I had a low back injury (involving a stress fractured vertebrae and my disc @ L4-L5) 4-5 years ago now and both before the injury and after the injury I was all about not using a belt so that my low back would stay as strong as the rest of my body.Buddies offered me their belt to use sometimes, but I refused to even try it because I wanted that "raw" strength. Let me tell you, bad decision. I got the Rehband belt (a little expensive, but awesome) about a year ago now and it has helped my lower back health quite a bit. I tend not use it too much when I'm going light, but I use it on almost all my heavy lifts. I would actually say that my lower back is much stronger than ever now, thank God.

Just as an example of how (if used properly) it should help your lower back's raw strength: I remember reading an article by Andy Bolton (1000lb+ deadlifter), and if I recall correctly he used a weight belt on all deadlift sets that were over 1/3 of his 1RM. He also had never had a back injury, as far as I know. So, I think his back strength and back health speaks to the importance of a belt.

If your back stays healthy, it can keep getting stronger! Can't argue with that haha.

Alright, stay well and good luck!


P.S. Sorry for the long-winded response. In short, your program addition should work well.

EDIT: As far as muscular development goes: I don't think using the belt will be an issue, as long as you don't over-use the belt. Additionally, you still have isolation exercises if you are very worried about that.


I don't mind the long response. In fact I appreciate your feedback on the belt very much.


I doubt I'm really qualified to offer this advise but it sounds like loaded carries would also help, in addition to what was mentioned above esspecially the OHS
also snatch if you can do it.


what helped for me was taking a wider grip on standing overhead presses using a thumb width grip (meaning place your thumbs just ouside the smooth part of the bar in the middle and straighten em out, take that and grip it) i prefer false grip, it helps with the tracking of the bar and it helps with strength another thing that i do is I dont lower it down to my chest but just below my chin. the assistance exersices that really help me are seated dumbbell press, weighted pullups and weighted chinups and incline bench (medium grip)
-good luck


oh and wear a belt, that belt can help you alot when using heavier weights!!! I get ALOT of lowerback and ab work in sooo wearing the belt wont hamper me in fact it helps because you can squeeze your stomach out to create more pressure and help stabalize. i also squeeze everything from my calves to my hands squeeze the hell put of your butt because according to the law of irradiation if one thing is lose you lose tht much needed power or stability. Learn to use your lats as a "shelf" meaning create a solid base for you to push off of, thats why I love doing weightedpullups/ chins sooo much as mentioned earlier


Braas Lots of sub max reps, and OH squats, on form pushing your head through and locking out where its comfortable for you may help you find a confidence and relaxed position. No harm in goin light til if feels right.


Got tht right, but I dnt do oh squats sooo idk lol


Try Z presses, sit on a bench or the floor to do pressing occasionally. This helps strengthen your core by not having any back support. It can be done with a straight bar, log, specialty bar of even db's.


I do those acctually, I like them, I prefer to do them on my DE OHP day if I do them... I find db presses help a lot I may be ambdextrous but still it helps, I'm thinking about doing those presses more often though hits the core hard...


Everybody's giving good advice. This is my favorite lift. I can tell you what helped me get from a stalled out max of 185 OHP years ago to where I could press 250 in the OHP. I was turning it into a standing Incline Bench Press without even realizing it. Someone offered the right critisism and I listened. I backed down to training with 135 for weeks and worked hard to 'feel' the reps, and get 'under' the weight. Also watched a lot of online videos and by the time I was pressing heavier again was able to make quicker progress and hit 225 lbs within 2 months.

Also my 'weak' core was suddenly plenty strong, once I got my form worked out. Now I tilt the hips back, and my shoulders forward at the end of the movement. The weight winds up above and behind my head. Also it was 'necessary' to go light until I retrained the movement.


Vires Eternus what i find what helped to "mimic" standing OHP in a way is the savickas press. i used pins when i did them....hits the core like nothing else ive ever tried and it taught me to explode from the bottom of the press because i waited 2-4 secs between each rep and pushed as hard as i could......


To be more specific, the right form for overhead pressing is not 'pushing your head through', but instead shrugging up as you press past your head and lock out. If you do not shrug, your scapular mobility is horrid and it forces the weight to lock a few inches in front of your body, putting strain on your lower back and abs.

Do this every rep, and you will find you are more stable at the lock out. If you are still struggling from having weak stability, simply hold the lock out overhead for as long as you can at the end of each set, tensing your legs and abs and upper back as hard as you can for as long as you can.


Thanks forevernade, your feedback look useful aswell. I've been following some of the advice given in this thread. It must have been a technical issue because I have improved around 3,5kg to 5kg (7,7 lbs to 11 lbs). Huge gain in such short time.

I think the things I have improved the most is that I feel more tensed while lifting and the bars travel distance away from my body has been shortened. This must be the issue forevernade is refering to.


I didn't know this. Thanks a lot.