10 Jul #93 – Build Your Press with Better Programming
One common criticism of the Novice Linear Progression as detailed in Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training 3rd Edition is the lack of volume for upper body work, especially for the Press. The press is usually the first of the lifts to stall out during NLP, partly because the primary movers in the press are relatively small muscles and partly because, being a relatively technical lift, there is less margin for error than, say, the Bench Press. We all know the benefits of building a big overhead press (not to mention it’s probably the coolest Big Lift), so Matt and Scott tackle this problem and offer some tips to continue building your press after LP.
The first thing to examine is form. Some trainees may elect to learn the Press 1.0 first, that is, a strict press with no hip rebound. The hip rebound relies on precise timing, and can be difficult to get right as a rank novice. So, if you are performing a strict 1.0 style press, learning the Press 2.0 technique can give you some additional room for gains. There’s also the Press 1.5, a term coined by SSC Michael Wolf to describe a press in which the first rep is a 2.0 and subsequent reps are rebounded off the bottom position. The rebound out of the bottom position allows the lifter to take advantage of a stretch reflex in the triceps and lats which can help the lifter add a few pounds to their LP.
Microloading can be useful, particularly for older trainees and female trainees. However, Matt typically doesn’t like to use jumps less than 2.5lbs, except in these populations.
At some point volume needs to change. Scott likes to slowly increase the total number of reps per workout by dropping the number of reps per set and increasing the number of sets. Thus, 3×5 (15 total reps) becomes 4×4 (16 reps), then 6×3 (18 reps), all while increasing load. Then Scott will have the lifter go back to 3×5 at the now-higher load.
Eventually frequency needs to increase as well. Matt likes to utilize the four-day split framework with two upper body days: on one day the lifter will perform heavy bench and volume work on press, on the other they will do the opposite. This increases the amount of upper work generally, while providing instances of both volume and intensity each week for each lift. Scott will walk from LP to the four-day split by simply adding extra pressing sets on a bench day. This can be done as the lifter transitions from LP to a 4-day split method.
Matt references his trainee Philip Midkiff who has continued to train while going through daily radiation therapy. Here’s an excellent article on Philip’s experience and how Matt and intern Joel Rasmussen have managed his training.
We’ve posted these before, but you can never watch these awesome presses enough:
- Ken Patera 485lbs clean and press in the gym
- Serge Reding 502lbs clean and press (look how strict the press is!)
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