7 Easy Ways to Improve Your Overhead Press

Young was I once, I walked alone, and bewildered seemed in the way;
then I found the temple of iron and rich, I thought me, for being jacked is the joy of man.
” – Odin

There is something powerful about having a solid bench/overhead press. Having the ability to take a heavy ass object and put it above you is the absolute best.

Here are 7 tips to help you press more weight and add some size to your upper body.

#1
Stay Away From The Smith Machine:

To understand why you should avoid the smith machine, first, you need to be clear on the path the bar should take when doing an overhead press.

Once your hand grip and lifting stance has been set, the bar should start underneath your chin. From this position,  press the bar straight up, push the hips forward slightly so you can tilt the head back, and allow the bar to travel up just in front of your face.

Continue to press upwards until your arms reach the locked-out position, from here, push your head through the gap created by the arms. Keep your core and glutes tight through to help provide stability and power.

Bring the bar back down should mimic the path the bar took on the way up.

Although the bar takes a pretty strict vertical route during the overhead press, it’s still not recommended to use the smith machine to perform this lift.

There are 2 main reasons for this:

  • The smith machine reduces the work of the smaller stabilizers muscles
  • The smith machine uses a fixed bar path which doesn’t allow for natural movement

For better strength gains stick to either the barbell or dumbbells and leave the smith machine to the peasants at Planet Fitness.

#2
Apply Progressive Overload

Progressive overload is one of the most important factors when it comes to making progress over the long-term and is the intentional act of keeping your body challenged every time it begins to adapt to the stimulus you put it under.

For example, if you’re performing 4 sets of barbell press using 185 pounds for 6 reps and you complete all 4 sets of 6 reps without an absolute struggle at the end, then it’s time to increase the weight in your next training session.

#3
Increase Tricep Strength

Your tricep is the king – especially when it comes to pressing.

When performing a pressing movement, your shoulders are the primary movers and should be the focus of your lift when working on your mind-muscle connection. However, they are not the only muscles contributing to the lift; your triceps are also active as secondary muscles in the lift.

To lift more weight with the press, you also want to spend some time working the triceps directly to increase the weight they can handle, which will, in turn, make your overall press stronger.

Functional exercises to do this are:

  • Skull Crushers
  • Close Grip Bench Press
  • Overhead Extensions
  • Weighted Dips
  • Rope Pull Downs

#4
Visualize Your Lifts

Never underestimate the power of the mind (especially when it comes to lifting something substantial). A simple change in self-talk from “I can’t do that it’s too heavy” to “I’m going to make this weight my bitch” can make a huge difference.

Next time you’re going for a new PR – spend some time with your eyes closed, visualizing yourself executing the lift flawlessly. It will boost your confidence and make your success a reality.

#5
Wear the Right Shoes

You need to have solid contact with the ground, and that soft ass sole on your Nike’s isn’t going to cut it. This doesn’t mean that you have to go buy a $200 pair of Olympic lifting shoes – converses will work fine (I don’t wear shoes with most of my lifts).

#6
Get Your Hand Position Right On The Barbell Press

Your hand grip when training the press can either make or break your lift.

Too wide or too narrow, and you’ll struggle to generate strength to get the bar up. You want to place your hands just outside of the shoulders so that your wrists are straight, and your forearms are vertical. It puts you in the optimal position to push from and sets you up right from the get-go.

#7
Get into the Proper Stance

Once you’ve gripped the bar with the correct hand position, you need to get your stance right to provide a stable base to push from.

When starting, keep the feet parallel, set between hip and shoulder-width apart, this stance is wide enough to provide balance and stability when pressing. If you bring the feet too close together, you’ll struggle with balance, and too wide will make the lift feel awkward as hell.

A stable base means more confidence, more pushing power, and more strength.