Overhead Pressing To Raise Your Bench Press

Create: 03/12/2007 - 07:29
Mike Johnston relates how overhead pressing has helped push his bench press higher in an article at EliteFTS.

...Since overhead pressing didn’t hurt, I figured I would stop benching and focus on overhead. ...In fact, in early September, Jim Wendler asked me if all the overhead pressing I was doing had any carryover to the bench press. I told him that I honestly didn’t know because I didn’t bench much. (Up until that point, I had benched a total of four times in 2006.) Around that time (maybe November), I decided that all the Strongmen should train hard in the off-season to get stronger, and it seemed natural that we should do a powerlifting meet. However, that meant some bench press training—NOT! I did some shirt work and got the gear dialed in, but I continued to do the overhead press as a staple and even warmed up for the big shirt days with overhead pressing... I opened with 551 lbs, which was five pounds under my max, and took a second attempt at 650 lbs. I didn’t arch or use my legs, but I hammered it anyway—a 94 lb increase in my bench press. I hadn’t used bands or chains. I hadn’t done any speed work. I had never gone raw. I had never done a floor press or a lockout lying down, and I hadn’t used fat bars or weight releasers. Everything was done overhead. So the answer to Jim’s question is yes. There is tremendous carryover from overhead pressing to bench pressing. Also, there’s much less stress on the shoulders and elbows. Speed work and max effort work become one and the same because when pressing overhead one must be explosive. There’s no need for a separate day to add bands and chains and grind up your elbows. Work the shirt when you bench and press overhead otherwise (and not from a seated position either).


Submitted by Richie "Vibes" Vee (not verified) on
I liked this article because I've recently added standing overhead pressing into my training as it's an exercise I've always avoided for some reason. I'm terrible at them and I'm sure if I get better at them my bench will go up. Glad to hear Mike has had good results with them.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
A lot of the old school lifters used to do a lot of presses for their benches. Including the likes of Ted Arcidi. Coan also used to do heavy behidn the neck press, with the likes of a 400 for a single when he was benching close to the best 220 raw weight. With the technicality of the shirted press, I dont think you can completely drop the actual bench for too long before it will bite you.

Submitted by Hogbody (not verified) on
I like the OH stuff my self like behind the neck or standing millitary presses. I don't do both of them in a week, just one. They've made a difference for me.

Submitted by Nick Winters (not verified) on
Heavy shoulder presses work for me, I either do them the same day as bench or the day after. My triceps have always been my weak point, I think throwing heavy shoulder presses have helped (slightly) remedy that situation.

Submitted by Brad V (not verified) on
I do OHP from pins at eye level. I've experience good carry over to the bench. The movement is just a total power movement, it's great.

Submitted by Paul Kelso (not verified) on
Isagawa used to do a lot of incline presses, medium and close grip. Dunno if he still does.