Life-specific accessory work for Military Press

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    Life-specific accessory work for Military Press

    Though I'm always most concerned with my squat, deadlift, and (lately) clean, I'm really working my ass off to get my military press up. It's not bad, but I want to press more.

    What I'm looking for is some advice on more advanced ways to improve my submaximal loads on military press. I'm not interested in some basic tricep or delt isolation. I want point-specific lifts/exercises that apply to military press. For instance, bench has accessory work like dead press, floor press, isometric press, board press, etc.

    I'm using heavy overhead supports as one lift-specific accessory exercise (to strengthen my core and shoulder girdle). I'm also using squat holds primarily for squat accessory but also for general core and back strength. My sticking point in military press is going from dead stop on chest to half way. I have never have problems with lockout.

    Any suggestions?

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    Do some sets where all you do is the portion of the lift you find most difficult - you may have to lower the weight a little bit, but literally just press from chest to just above head height, pause for a beat or two, then lower back down in a controlled way. Thats one rep!

    You're already doing a lot of stuff to improve this, but maybe some strict one arm shoulder press would help too. Get a DB, rest it on your delt, put your feet together and tighten your glutes and core, then press it overhead. This exercise is tough as hell because you have a narrow base and can't really bring anything else into play except just gutting it out. Great for building pure pressing strength.

    Other than that it may just come down to using some sort of genius periodization scheme like 531 and baby-stepping your way up the numbers.

    Could also buy some microplates (<1lb) and use those to add weights. Old time strongmen use to use dumbells and barbells filled with metal shot, and every workout they'd add one shot. Over a period of years these tiny insignificant additions made their pressing records still almost unbeatable today.





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    Probably should make a note to not go overboard with training because you'll probably fry your shoulders, lol. I'm sure you're already aware of that, but thought i'd mention it just in case! Do what you did with benching and cycle the exercises.





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    Oh god damnit.....EDIT:

    ***Lift-specific accessory....

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gazhole View Post
    Do some sets where all you do is the portion of the lift you find most difficult - you may have to lower the weight a little bit, but literally just press from chest to just above head height, pause for a beat or two, then lower back down in a controlled way. Thats one rep!

    You're already doing a lot of stuff to improve this, but maybe some strict one arm shoulder press would help too. Get a DB, rest it on your delt, put your feet together and tighten your glutes and core, then press it overhead. This exercise is tough as hell because you have a narrow base and can't really bring anything else into play except just gutting it out. Great for building pure pressing strength.

    Other than that it may just come down to using some sort of genius periodization scheme like 531 and baby-stepping your way up the numbers.

    Could also buy some microplates (<1lb) and use those to add weights. Old time strongmen use to use dumbells and barbells filled with metal shot, and every workout they'd add one shot. Over a period of years these tiny insignificant additions made their pressing records still almost unbeatable today.
    Thanks for the tips.

    I was thinking something like your suggestion of the half-rep reps. I thought I'd apply an isometric press to military press, where I'd set the safety bars on the squat rack to the half way mark of my military press, then press it from dead weight on my chest to the safety bars, and hold isometrically for a second or two, then repeat.

    I love dead press, and thought to adapt that concept to the military press, but then I realized "well fuck, I already press dead weight from my chest! I can't make it any harder, just more specific!"

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    Quote Originally Posted by Phineas View Post
    I'm really working my ass off to get my military press up. It's not bad, but I want to press more.
    What are you pressing now?

    Has your progress stalled over the last few months?

    How much weight can you move on your other main lifts?

    Are you eating in a surplus?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marat View Post
    What are you pressing now?

    120 lbs for 5. Full extension, to the chest, no bouncing.

    Has your progress stalled over the last few months?

    No, my progress has gone up, but not as much relative to my other lifts. Also, I just want to military press more for personal satisfaction.

    I was using a volume bodybuilding/powerlifting program for the summer, and had awesome results. Now, I'm using a transitional program to get me into powerlifting. Gonna do Westside later in the winter. For now, I want to correct some weaknesses, and just generally get prepared for heavy core lifts. I feel my pressing could use some work, especially vertical. Plus, military press is just badass.


    How much weight can you move on your other main lifts?

    Squat: 245 lbs for 5 (about 15 degrees below parallel)
    Deadlift: 270 lbs for 5
    Bench: not sure, as I haven't done conventional bench in a long time, but my Dead Press is 195 lbs for 5 (that's with the bar touching my chest).
    Pullups: BW (195 lbs) + 55 lbs for 5
    Bent-Over Rows: 200 lbs for 5
    Hang Clean: 140 lbs for 5
    (thought it might be relevant to millies) Weighted Plank: 3:05 @ BW (195 lbs) + 90 lbs -


    Are you eating in a surplus?

    Hell yes. I've had to up my eating the last few months because I'm also running 3 days a week for half-marathon training (little side project for some discipline). I'm only running about 4km per run, but somehow my appetite has gone savage lately. Training days are about 3,800-4,200 (depending on activity that day), non training was 3,200-3,300 but I recently increased to about 3,500. I track my diet, and keep my macros the same each day. I eat the same thing almost every day. I vary one meal about 3 days a week, but keep the calories/nutrients equal to the other days.

    I've been gaining steadily for months, so there's no stall in progress. My clean bulk has left me gaining virtually no fat, too. Hell of a lot of time working out the diet and preparing food, but it's worth it. I'm sitting at about 10% BF



    Need anything else?
    Last edited by Phineas; 09-21-2010 at 03:34 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Phineas View Post
    Has your progress stalled over the last few months?

    No, my progress has gone up, but not as much relative to my other lifts. Also, I just want to military press more for personal satisfaction.
    By all accounts, progress on the press is notorious for being slow. As your pull and squat go up, your press will slowly go up as well. Frankly, having a bigger press is a matter of being stronger than you were the day before. One would be hard pressed to find someone who presses, say, 185 x 5 who doesn't deadlift, say, 365 x 5. I recognize how that may sound trite -- to get a bigger press one needs to get, uh, stronger -- however, there aren't as many moving parts in the press as there are in the deadlift, squat, or bench.


    Also, why aren't you benching?

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    Oh, and I see you mentioned the Dead Press. I like that too, I think it has some pretty good carryover.

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    I find small progressions are essential to increase your overhead press. 5 lb additions work for me (2.5 lb plates on each side) a week.

    This is because people aren't moving nearly as much weight on the overhead press compared to other lifts. Going from 100 to 110 is a lot different from going 300-310, because 10 lbs accounts for a 10% total increase on the former and a 3.4% increase on the latter.

    You may look at increasing a squat from 300-310 as being the same as OHP-ing 100 to 110, but in reality the squat increase would need to look like 300-330.

    So the flip things around, you wouldn't expect to progress a 5RM in the squat 30 lbs in a week, just like you shouldn't increase the OHP 10 lbs from 100 in a week.

    I know this is not what you are doing, but I am offering this example for perspective.

    Bottom line, small progressions, 5 lbs at the most per week. Like Gaz said, 2.5 is good too if you have the plates to do it. The smaller the progression, the longer you will be able to increase your strength without stagnating, and the stronger foundation you will build.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marat View Post
    By all accounts, progress on the press is notorious for being slow. As your pull and squat go up, your press will slowly go up as well. Frankly, having a bigger press is a matter of being stronger than you were the day before. One would be hard pressed to find someone who presses, say, 185 x 5 who doesn't deadlift, say, 365 x 5. I recognize how that may sound trite -- to get a bigger press one needs to get, uh, stronger -- however, there aren't as many moving parts in the press as there are in the deadlift, squat, or bench.


    Also, why aren't you benching?
    Quote Originally Posted by Marat View Post
    Oh, and I see you mentioned the Dead Press. I like that too, I think it has some pretty good carryover.
    Ya, I figure if I'm training balanced -- as I always do -- my lifts will go up as they go up. Especially now that I'm powerlifting, I think the ball will really get rolling. I never performed regular submaximal lifting until around June. Since then lifts have been going up nearly every session (if not increase in tangible numbers, there's some marked improvement, like healing factor, tempo, etc).

    I'm not benching because I hit a bench plateau a long time ago. In my beginner days I was a broskie, and I trained chest a lot. I got really strong at bench press really quickly. After less than a year I was benching 225 for 4 sets of 4 -- though admittedly only bringing my upper arms to 90 degrees (1RM of 250 that summer). The thing is I stalled there. I ditched bench, and took up other chest work.

    Then, in fall 2009 I got into push/pull training, and I also started to actually notice my lifts weren't all I thought they were. I squatted half way to parallel; I couldn't deadlift worth shit; my bench ROM wasn't good; my pullups were total kippers, etc. So, I devoted months and months to relearning everything, and developing genuine strength. I completely removed bench in January so that I could go with other lifts I enjoy more like incline DB chest press (my fav upper push) and eventually Dead Press -- which I used for about 4 months.

    I plan on bring back conventional bench press when I start Westside. I figured I'd work on improving my bench through other lifts, and then eventually see where all that work brought me. If I can Dead Press 195 for 5, going literally as deep as possible, I'm betting I can bench a decent weight at this point. Even if it hasn't increased much since my early days I'm at least benching with excellent form, tempo, and ROM now.

    In the meantime my only horizontal push is incline DB Chest press. I'm sitting at 85 lbs for 8 -- 90 lbs for 6.

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    and oh yeah, overhead pressing is a really difficult lift. Technique is a huge variable. It is very easy to get sloppy on the OHP. General tip, stay tight as hell all over, squeeze the bar.

    When the bar gets over your head, get the bar back a little and off your arms and onto your shoulders for the lockout. Once you have reached that level of shoulder flexion, most people will be comfortable getting the bar back over their head. The closer the bar is over your center of mass, the stronger you will be on this lift. If the bar is too much in front of you during the lockout, you are expending needless energy to hold it there.

    It is the same idea as keeping the bar close to your legs during a deadlift.
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    Quote Originally Posted by fufu View Post
    I find small progressions are essential to increase your overhead press. 5 lb additions work for me (2.5 lb plates on each side) a week.

    This is because people aren't moving nearly as much weight on the overhead press compared to other lifts. Going from 100 to 110 is a lot different from going 300-310, because 10 lbs accounts for a 10% total increase on the former and a 3.4% increase on the latter.

    You may look at increasing a squat from 300-310 as being the same as OHP-ing 100 to 110, but in reality the squat increase would need to look like 300-330.

    So the flip things around, you wouldn't expect to progress a 5RM in the squat 30 lbs in a week, just like you shouldn't increase the OHP 10 lbs from 100 in a week.

    I know this is not what you are doing, but I am offering this example for perspective.

    Bottom line, small progressions, 5 lbs at the most per week. Like Gaz said, 2.5 is good too if you have the plates to do it. The smaller the progression, the longer you will be able to increase your strength without stagnating, and the stronger foundation you will build.
    Great point.

    I'm so used to thinking in terms of 10 lb or even 20 lb increments (I'm using a Bill Starr approach to my 5 x 5 on deads and squats, so each set increases in weight about 20 lbs until the 5th set PR attempt (e.g. 185, 205, 225, 245, 270) that it's hard to think of only minor increases, especially when it's a major barbell exercise.

    I'll aim for 5 lb increases for every 1-2 weeks. I train millies every 5 days, so I have good opportunity to work on this.

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    Quote Originally Posted by fufu View Post
    and oh yeah, overhead pressing is a really difficult lift. Technique is a huge variable. It is very easy to get sloppy on the OHP. General tip, stay tight as hell all over, squeeze the bar.

    When the bar gets over your head, get the bar back a little and off your arms and onto your shoulders for the lockout. Once you have reached that level of shoulder flexion, most people will be comfortable getting the bar back over their head. The closer the bar is over your center of mass, the stronger you will be on this lift. If the bar is too much in front of you during the lockout, you are expending needless energy to hold it there.

    It is the same idea as keeping the bar close to your legs during a deadlift.
    Funny thing you should mention that because when I was pressing on Saturday afternoon I had an epiphany and actually noticed this for the first time. I never really moved the bar properly in the past; I always kept it more in front of me. As I was pressing the other day I was able to draw my core into the equasion more than before (I've been working on core stability a great deal lately) and as the bar passed my head I straightened my back and drew the BB in so it was in line with the centre of my body (closer to my centre of mass) and I pushed it up passed my usual sticking point.

    The same session I had a major epiphany and drastically improved my power clean form, too. It was an epic session.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Phineas View Post
    Great point.

    I'm so used to thinking in terms of 10 lb or even 20 lb increments (I'm using a Bill Starr approach to my 5 x 5 on deads and squats, so each set increases in weight about 20 lbs until the 5th set PR attempt (e.g. 185, 205, 225, 245, 270) that it's hard to think of only minor increases, especially when it's a major barbell exercise.

    I'll aim for 5 lb increases for every 1-2 weeks. I train millies every 5 days, so I have good opportunity to work on this.
    Sounds good.

    You could also train the military pressing on another upper day, doing a couple sets of high reps, work on your speed and bar groove, hammer the technique. You would want to work with generally lighter to moderate weights, so it would be easy to stick it somewhere in your program without worry about compromising recovery/too much volume. The goal is not to train strength but technique, so you wouldn't be going anywhere near failure.
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