The Overhead Press is hard. You can’t just slap on a load of plates like the deadlift. Plus, no one’s ever gonna ask “How much you overhead press bro?”. So why do it?
Before we start, I’m going to preface this by saying the overhead press (OHP) is my favorite gym exercise (yes, even over bicep curls). So am I biased? Yeah probably. But it's for a good reason.
Here’s a few of the highlights:
1. Its one of the few exercises that engages both your upper body and lower body.
You’ll be hitting some muscles like the upper trapezius and the long head of the triceps without even noticing.
2. It has a real carryover to other sports, even more than the bench press.
Think about it. When was the last time you were playing a sport and you had to create power by pushing your back against a bench? It doesn’t really happen. In most sports you have to create power from your core, from a standing start. The overhead press practices this perfectly.
3. More pressing = more bench gains.
Who wants a bigger bench? Well, I do. If you’re like me, the overhead press is great for developing your bench. Heavy OHPing will directly carry over to your bench press. Some strength coaches see the OHP as the best secondary exercise for a bench program.
4. It’s good for your shoulders.
If you do it right, the OHP will work all three heads of your shoulder. Crucially, this includes the posterior head (the one on the back of the shoulder). Keeping that posterior head developing will keep your shoulder in a healthy balance and stop you walking around like a gorilla.
5. It feels f*cking awesome.
Since the dawn of time humans have picked up something heavy and shoved it over their heads. It just feels like the logical thing to do. Something about pressing a lot of weight over your head just feels right; its almost primordial. Recapture that caveman spirit.
So now you’re probably thinking:
“Why should I listen to this guy?”
“I mean, does he even lift?”
“Is this guy at least the biggest guy in his gym?”
“How much do you bench bro?”
All good arguments.
Let's take a look at the science:
A 2010 study found that a complete range of motion during the overhead press will activate 8 muscle groups. This includes all three heads of the deltoid, the trapezius, the pectoralis major and the triceps.
Wow, so I can stop doing shrugs? Pretty cool.
A 2014 study found that a strength training program including the overhead press can have significant carryover to performance in other sports. This study found increases in throwing velocity, strength and jumping in athletes as result of a program containing the overhead press.
Wew, so I can get better at throwing a ball and can jump higher? Why didn’t my dad tell me this when I was 10? I could’ve won that ball throwing competition in school…
And what about the experts?
“The press is the most useful upper-body exercise for sports conditioning, primarily because it is not just an upper-body exercise” - Mark Rippetoe, Starting Strength.
This guy really knows his stuff, just look at the wisdom in his eyes:
But seriously, get this guys book. It’s the industry standard for barbell training for a reason.
“Whether your goal is weightlifting, strongman, powerlifting or building size, the overhead press should be a staple in your lifting” - Bryan Marshall (7x Provincial Weightlifting Champion. Strength coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs).
Look, it’ll make you strong. But lets be honest, you only really care about gains that can be seen. Bryan thinks it’ll do that too.
So, the overhead press.Is it easy? Nope.
Does anyone care how strong you are in it? Not really.
But should you do it? This bro thinks you should.
The Overhead Press is a bit like the life of a ladybug.
Give this ladybug a chance.