When pressing heavy stuff over your head you have to consider two things
- Why are you doing it?
- Do you know how to do it safely and effectively? The ABC (Always Be a Column.
1. Why are you doing it?
Apart from looking mightily impressive, the Military Press brings a number of very good benefits when compared to other exercises in the gym.
- It helps improve your core stability and stiffness.
- It can increase your upper body strength, musculature and development.
- It works more than just your shoulders and arms.
- There are so many variations – you can press almost anything (barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells, children, cars, girlfriends/boyfriends, doorbells, you name it!)
2. Do you know how to do it safely and effectively? The ABC
Here I will share with you what I think are the most important factors when doing a strict military press, the ABC.
- Always Be a Column
By creating a “column” from your body you will establish a solid foundation from which to push. I like the analogy “you can’t fire a cannon from a canoe”, or “it’s like pushing string uphill”. If you have an unstable foundation to push from then you will not be able to transfer your power into a vertical, upwards motion. The best way to create a solid “column” is to practice core stiffness through “core” training and bracing during all movements. This also applies to every other part of your body, from your feet, through your knees, hips, abs, lats and shoulders. The tighter you contract your whole body, the stiffer it will be and the more solid your foundations for pressing.
2. All forces point to “UP!”
Think about where you need all your effort to go when pressing something UP. It’s easy, UP. This means that VERTICAL force is required, if that’s the case then make sure you don’t lose energy sideways. One example of this would be to lean forwards, backwards or to either side. Don’t lean, just PRESS.
Another point where you may be losing vertical pressing forces is the grip. If you have a wide grip it is unlikely your forearms will be vertical from the bottom. If that’s the case then this could be where you lose some of that vertical pressing force. Point your forearms “UP”.
3. Get your head through the hole
The hole is the space created by your arms and the bar as the weight rises above your head. The moment that hole opens up, get your head in there and don’t come out until the job is done!
When pressing a barbell overhead, your noggin needs to find the right path to allow your shoulders into full extension. If you leave your head behind the bar you will be tempted to lean back and your “column” will be “as bent as a nine bob note”. This also means that not all your forces are pointing to “UP”. Some of your forces will leak out of the side and you won’t be able to lift as much as you could.
Now go find a barbell… there are some pressing matters to attend to!
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