T Nation

Technique Overhead Press


Hello CT/ Members

I have a question regarding the Ã?VP/push press/ military press.

What is the correct start position?
Should the barbell be on my deltas like i "Front squat" or can it be that the barbell is just on the lowest point but not on my deltas?
I hope you understand what i mean. Sorry for my describtion and english.

Thank you for reading.



The answer to your question depends a lot on your individual anthropometry.

If, for example, you have long forearms relative to your humerus (upper arms), you will have trouble getting into a proper bottom (rack) position for either a traditional Front Squat, traditional Power Clean, or for a Standing Press start.

In that case, for the Press, it is appropriate to have a start (bottom) position above the clavicles (or your delts), depending on where you can safely and comfortably hold the bar to apply optimal upward force.

There are other related issues like grip width and upper body posture that are critical here too.

Your best bet is to have a good trainer see a vidclip of you in action. But the notion that Presses should start from the delts–for everyone–is problematic and can lead to injury, sooner rather than later. But if you can get into the proper bottom position–safely and comfortably–it is fine to do so.


Thanks for the answer :slight_smile:

Example for my old technique: http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=2yjwXTZQDDI
I dont like the video but it Illustrates my technique.

This is the other technique I mean: http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=rXXszjlqxhI


Modify your position by bringing your elbows up and in front of the bar. [Don’t let your elbows drift behind the bar as it will then have a tendency to push the bar up at a slight incline instead of straigh up. When using heavy weight this slight incline push could cause you to fail in the lift.] That might settle the bar across your delts.

In my opinion, if the bar isn’t touching your body the gap between the bar and the body acts as a bit of shock absorber reducing the force you exert especially in the push press. When I OHP my elbows are almost parallel to the floor elbows squeezed a bit towards the center of my body, bar resting across my delts. My body is tense–flexing my abs as if someone was going to punch me in the stomach and tensing my glutes [imagine holding a coin between the cheeks of your ass] and I do a static push into the floor as I start my press enabling the force to transit my tense body into the bar as I drive it up. [Any loose muscle in that tense body chain will act as a shock aborber diminishing the amount of force to transfer to the bar.]

Hard to explain and I’m a computer idiot, don’t own a cell phone nor a video camera so I can’t post any visual. If you want to explore this tension aspect the best source I think is Pavel Tsatsolene. Notice in the second video of the Russian lifter that the bar is resting across his delts insuring a smooth transfer of force from his dip and explosive “stand up.” Also, note, his body is tense even as he dips–no relaxing the abs, quads, glutes, etc. When he stands up all the mucles in the force chain from floor to when he gets the bar overhead are tense and the 220 kilo’s goes up and overhead to lockout.

What I mentioned works for me.


What Germanicus describes (but with elbows perpendicular not parallel to floor) is optimal.

But because of differences in anatomy, the optimal start position can not be achieved–by everyone–to the same effect when using meaningful loads. If a trainee has long forearms relative to their humerus, the “on delts” start position will be a big problem as loads become meaningful, even if the other aspects of pressing form are sound.

Forget the videos above, especially the first one, which shows forward bar drift on subsequent reps (as Germanicus alludes to), and likely too wide a grip for optimal set-up and drive with a meaningful load.

The second vid shows a start position that is great–for that lifter. Were we all built like him, and with a forearm to humerus ratio that is similar, that would be fine. Note he also has a wide grip, but properly so because his clavicular width is a yard across and his torso (lat shelf) is massive. The overall tension from head to foot is stellar, otherwise even he could not have done this.

Rippetoe is likely as good as any for coaching the Press (see his books or videos) in general and to accommodate differences in individual anthropometry.

A proper answer to your question --for you-- may entail some direct coaching, even as the more general (tension) considerations, described by Germanicus, are sound for just about everyone.


Thank you very much Roygion and germanicus for writing and answering. I think Iunderstand it now much better.
I have now watched the video from the superhero shoulder workout and saw it there too.
After dooing it today in the gym it felt better and more powerfull, altough i need to practice it.


Keep working on your press and you’ll eventually get it.


Hello :slight_smile:
Short question(I don’t know how to say what I mean especially in English…):
Is it normal/ good that my shoulders rotate in the lowering on my delas phase of the lift, “outwards” to make my deltas go up for the bar?

I hope you understand what I mean…
Thank you for reading!