T Nation

Upper Body Strength, an Observation


Quite recently I decided to give weightlifting a go. I contacted a coach, joined a club and even bought my own equipment to train with. I've been doing this for about 3 months maybe. I am an ex powerlfter and I competed unequipped in an IPF affiliate in the U.K. I weigh about 80kg give or take a couple of pounds depending how much I eat.

Anyway, since starting weightlifting, interestingly, I have noticed a steady increase in my upper body maximal strength. Now, my focus is not on my upper body and I pick exercises with some degree of dynamic correspondence to the Jerk. Mainly my upper body pressing work now consists of push presses, snatch grip behind neck presses, close grip incline presses and maybe some flat close grip presses occasionally. In addition I do lat and back work.

Maybe it is the reduction in overall volume and reduced fatigue in the upper body, allowing fitness to express itself, or perhaps there has been a global improvement in neural efficiency. Either way quite recently I have done the following:

Push Press; 105kg x 5 reps (did this yesterday, only 2nd time doing it recently) and I suspect I could have done 110kg
Snatch Grip Behind Neck Press, Paused - 80kg 5 x 5 (roughly bodyweight), I have added 7.5kg to this over the past 3 - 4 weeks! I was really surprised by this
Close grip bench, paused, 125kg 5 x 5, again gone up by nearly 10kg
Weighted Pullups: 30kg x 8 reps, gone up by 10kg

Now I have been training for a long time, and although the above numbers aren't huge by any standard, considering my training history I find the improvements to be quite significant.


"Snatch Grip Behind Neck Press, Paused - 80kg 5 x 5 (roughly bodyweight), I have added 7.5kg to this over the past 3 - 4 weeks! I was really surprised by this"

This is STRICT press and not a push press? wtf?! If so thats a ridiculous feat of strength imo....behind head snatch grip press80 x 5 x 5!!!

You got a video of it?

Solid gains!



Yeah I pause it on my traps between reps. I don't have a video no,I tend to do my upper body work on my own but I can get one no problem. Training with a group of people on Sunday if I am not still snowed in, so I will do a set or two then and film it. I just wish my snatch would improve like this :slightly_smiling:


Did you do a lot of overhead pressing in your PL days?


Pretty damn good on those push presses for that bodyweight man. Keep up the great work!






if i may ask...how are often are you doing upper body pressing in your training week?


I have always done a lot of shoulder pressing, yeah. When powerlfiting I used it as one of my indicator exercises, I found that if my military pressing was strong, so too was my flat bench (I bench with a narrow grip). I liked to keep vertical plane movements in to maintain some degree of shoulder mobility, and I think that one of the reasons why I have no problems with my shoulder mobility now that I have started weightlifting, is due to always including full ROM shoulder work and Lat work into my training.

I think by nature I am more of a delt presser, my shoulders and triceps are very thick comparative to everything else.

Here is how I currently work my pressing. At the moment I am focusing on accumulating some volume, within a week or 2 my reps will drop and I will look for more intense work:

Behind Neck Press: 5 x 5, same weight
Close Grip Press: 5 x 5, same weight

The work on Monday is purely volume only, I didn't intend to try and progress this too much, but found quickly that I was getting stronger weekly, so I upped the loads. The exercises on this day were to stay the same, with no rotation.


Push press: work up to a heavy set of 5, drop 5% weight, perform another set of 5, drop another 5%, perform another set of 5
Incline press: same rep scheme as above, typically I would get around 35 - 40 total reps per exercise.

The Thursday training I would rotate exercises when stagnation was to occur, however I stay true to the general theme: A push press (either front, back, or rack, etc) and some sort of other press too. The goal with this day is to get some sort of heavy weight around 85% or so, and then get a couple more sets in the 75 - 80% bracket.

Thats basically it. As a cycle I laid it out like this:

Week 1: All reps as planned, working off 5s, consider this a baseline week, working well within failure.
Week 2: Increase loads where possible
Week 3: Same as above, if possible
Week 4: Do not perform the back off sets on the Thursday as a form of recuperation and maintain the loads from the previous weeks
Week 5: Drop down to sets of 3, but maintain the heaviest loads from the sets of 5 if I need another recuperation week, perform the back off sets
Week 6: Increase from week 5
Week 7: Increase from week 6,
Week 8: Test

In a week I drop down to 3's so I will do 5 x 3 on Monday and work off 3's on the Thursday. Thats the general theme, things never really work as written though so I play it by ear a lot.

Hope that helps


Thanks, appreciate the kind words.


thanks. it does.



Yeah a lot of pressing Dave!

Where abouts in England are you? There are a few clubs dotted about.

I have a lifter Deep Squat who drives an hr to come with me on Sundays!