Taylor: Michael and Taylor here today at MSP Fitness and we’re going to bring you another common errors video, this time on the strict barbell press or overhead press.
• ERROR #1 – SET UP
Taylor: Right off the bat, I think a lot of times folks will approach the bar wrong. If we think about where the legs and feet are at and at how we are approaching the bar, folks are commonly too wide or too narrow, never just right — goldilocks conundrum. What we want to see is the feet at a hip width stance. That is, feet below your hips and engaged with the floor. Any type of pressing, any type of pushing, I want to see toes digging in, glutes squeezing, and quads stiff. You want to throw out the term abdominal bracing, that’s great! As long as there is some semblance of tightness through the midline so that while you are driving a bar overhead, you have something to push off of.
Michael: And that killer foundation is crucial, especially as weight gets heavier. Let’s talk about how we engage on the bar. Grip width, in general, is slightly outside shoulder width. Because most bar’s knurling is similar, you can think of the index finger positioned just outside that knurling change, hand on the textured portion of the bar. Far too many people will go too wide. When the bar is fully overhead, I want to see parallel arms versus making a “Y”.
And then, from a wrist position standpoint, the last thing we want to see is a folded wrist. I don’t know about you, but I don’t bench press with my wrist bent over and I’m not going to vertical press this way either. You don’t use a dumbbell with the wrist folded back — so we’re talking about using a stacked wrist. I want that bar sitting low in the hand with elbows presented slightly in front of the wrist. That gives me a nice trajectory if you think of the forearms as being the angle of action.
Taylor: Yes absolutely. Speaking of angle of action before we even think of moving we need to become set and the easiest way that we incorporate this, especially for folks who have trouble with “when do I breath?”, is think of it as a one-two punch. The squeezing and gripping is the one, while the two is your breath, then we go.
• ERROR #2 – BAR PATH
Michael: And now that we’ve got it all set, let’s talk about moving towards someplace. The press is almost a straight line with a small backwards trajectory. If you think of where the bar starts versus where we want it to finish (over the ear, over the shoulder), the face will be in the way. Our solution is to make a double chin, pulling your face backwards and out of the way. If in all of this, the bar isn’t touching you, that’s all right, it’s barbell press, don’t feel like the bar has to rest on you. In other lifts; push press, push jerk, split jerk, we’ll be having a completely different conversation. For strict press perfectly fine if this bar floats because we want an ideal position to push vertically.
• ERROR #3 – FINISHING THE LIFT
Taylor: Once we’ve secured that great bar path, you driven the way overhead, don’t forget to finish the lift fully. Right now in the fitness industry I see this mantra of shoulders back and down, good postures, or something to that effect. Apart from pressing, that’s all awesome, but when we press we want to fully upwardly rotate and elevate the scapula like we ought to. The shoulder blades are meant to move around your rib cage as a functioning human being. Make that happen on press by finishing the lift fully, reaching up into that barbell through a strong wrist in your locked out position.
• ERROR #4 – LOWERING THE BAR WRONG
Michael: And we always want to talk about lowering the lift. Any lift that we do in the gym isn’t a one-way street. We’ve driven the bar up, we’ve owned that lockout, we don’t just snap back to our shoulder and hope that we can get into a good position for multiple reps. The eccentric or lowering portion of the lift is crucial to put yourself in an ideal position to do subsequent reps. If we drove the bar up in that good wrist stacked position, we’ll reverse the lift by setting the elbows forward reclaiming that forearms like railroad tracks position. A pretty common mistake that we see is the elbows winging out laterally, meaning that when you get to the bottom of the lift the elbows are now placed behind you, giving your wrist no option but to be folded over and the bar low on your torso. This leaves a lifter completely set up for failure for those subsequent reps.
Taylor: For sure! Hopefully, this has given some of your pressing common errors guidelines to correct, and we’re going to have more common error videos so stay subscribed to your YouTube channel. We’ll see you all next time.
-Written by Taylor Gish and Michael S. Pilhofer