Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Another overhead press and shoulder development solution

This is a program I used quite a few years ago to build my seated press.  It is very demanding and somewhat Bill Starr inspired.  The main thing I remember about this was my shoulders being so god damn numb for hours afterwards.

Someone will ask "can I use this for standing press?"

Yes.  But I preferred it for the seated press at the time.

We pressed 3 times a week during this routine.  I think we ran it for maybe 6-8 weeks before we got crispy.

Mondays and Fridays -

Seated Front Press -
5,4,3,2,1,1,1,1,1 - All the singles at the same weight
Dips - bodyweight only - 4 sets of 20 or as many as you could get on Monday.  On Friday do 3 sets of 5 weighted.
Side Lateral/Front Raise Super Set - 5 rounds of 15-20
Upright Rows - 4 sets of 20

Tuesday - Squats and Leg Work

Wenesday - 
Incline Press - 5 sets of 5 Same weight for all 5 sets after warming up
Rear Laterals - 4 sets of 10
Back and Bicep Work (pulldowns/rows/curls)

Notes to making this program more effective -

  • Start out LIGHT.  It's a lot of volume and if you go in all gung ho you will end up with sore joints and maybe injured down the road.
  • Use the Incline Press day to STAY light through the whole program.  Think of it as like a recovery movement.  The 5 sets of 5 should be nice and crisp and make you feel better.
  • Invest in some elbow sleeves.  Pressing 3 times a week can be hell on your elbows.
  • A good little strategy is to have a goal in mind for what you want to hit for the 5 singles, then track back 6 weeks by 5 pounds per session.  So that's 2 sessions a week, 5 pounds per session.  So for example, if you wanted to do 275x5 singles you would do the following......
week 1 - 
session 1 - 220
session 2 - 225
week 2 -
session 1 - 230
session 2 - 235
week 3 -
session 1 - 240
session 2 - 245
week 4 - 
session 1 - 250
session 2 - 255
week 5 - 
session 1 - 260
session 2 - 265
week 6 - 
session 1 - 270
session 2 - 275

  • Using the standing press for this would certainly build a nice yoke.  BUT, use the clean and press with it.  Don't take it off the rack.  
  • Don't worry too much about progression on the assistance stuff.  You will do some heavy dips once a week however.  
  • More on assistance - try to reduce the amount of time between sets rather than increasing weight.  Keep the weight on that stuff light to medium.  It should give you a hell of a pump but not destroy you energy wise.  
  • Try to keep the rest time between the singles to 2 minutes max.  You don't have to time it, but don't be fucking around.  
  • Start light
  • Stat light
  • Start light


  1. why you recomend to clean the bar and not taking it off the rack ?
    why the overhead press cycle so different to the bench press cycle ?

  2. What does overhead pressing have to do with bench pressing?

    And because cleaning the bar and then pressing it > taking it off the rack.

    Nuff said.

  3. Is that a clean for every rep? Or just one clean to get it overhead for whatever set you're on?

  4. Either one is fine. I've done plenty of both.

  5. For some reason I can actually press more weight when I clean it than off the rack. And that's with a pause to make sure there's no bounce or anything. I have no idea why. But cleaning the weight is definitely a good idea.

    Do you think I should preemptively get elbow sleeves, Paul? I'm already doing something rather like the reverse of this program where after my warmup I start with heavy singles and doubles and then rep out with 185 or so. I've never had any elbow pain as far as I can remember, but if you think elbow pain is inevitable with this sort of thing...

  6. I press more with a clean than off the rack. I believe it's because you get a bit of a myotatic reflex going in the antagonist muscles. You pull hard with the back to clean, then you fire with the shoulders.

    It never hurts to take care of the elbows. If you've read any of the Q&A's you'll see lots of guys with elbow issues. Take care to prevent it now if you can.

  7. Lots of elbow problems actually stem from shoulder issues. A book has been very helpful for me treating both shoulder and elbow problems. It's called Fixing You: Shoulder & Elbow Pain by Rick Olderman. Its available on Amazon (didn't know if Paul would want me to provide a link). Very simple to understand if you're not good with medical terminology and very simple corrective exercises. I reduced by tennis elbow pain by about 95% after the first time doing the movements and stay pretty much pain-free unless I'm not careful about my shoulder & arm position. Now it just needs time for the structures to heal, but I can do just about everything except chins/pullups w/o pain. Not paid for this, just found it very effective.


  8. Post the link man, I don't mind. Anything that will help anyone is great.

  9. Amazon link:

    Book series link:

    Author's site:

  10. With the side and rear raises. I understand your trying to pump as much blood in the muscle as possible, but Im having trouble performing all the reps for 4-5 sets of 15. First couple sets are easy, but then reps drop 1-2 reps with each set after. Are sets 1-3 purely for volume and not going close to failure?

    Im asking because I have been doing raises for years and never really get any size benefits from them although everyone states they are the best for size in the medial delt.

    Do you go light and slow to feel the reps or just get the reps in?