Overhead sessions! Strict press, push press, push jerk, power jerk, split jerk etc. etc. etc. How can you get the most out of your pressing?
An effective warm up working on mobility and movement preparation is a great place to start!
If you move good; you lift better!
Personally, I like to start with a 5-10 minute pulse raiser doing something I enjoy. It can be helpful to do something that involves the whole body as most overhead movements use way more than just our shoulders and upper body. A whizz on the rower, assault bike or ski erg can be great; if you don’t have access to this kind of equipment you can use a skipping rope, do some step ups, jumping jacks or whatever else tickles your fancy and is going to get your heart pumping.
Now it’s time to work on that mobility and get your joints warm and moving. Prior to training it is most helpful to use dynamic stretches or stretches held for a short period of time as opposed to static stretches, this means we are moving through movements rather than holding one stretch for a prolonged period of time, we are aiming to warm the muscles up and prime them for power as opposed to lengthening and stretching them.
Here are some of my favorites and my go to prior to every overhead session I do:
Thread the Needle with Rotation x 8 reps each side
Shoulder Dislocates x 10
- Take a quadruped position, place the foam roller between one hand and knee, take the opposite arm and place your wrist on the foam roller, push the foam roller away from you and lower your shoulder to the floor creating a nice stretch in the T spine, return back to start position and repeat
Stick External Rotation (rotator cuff stretch) – 10-20 seconds per side
- Using a dowel, stick, or mop handle (whatever you have available that is super light) start by taking an overhand grip on your stick with your hands a comfortable distance apart; you may need to play around to find the right grip for you, keeping your arms straight, rotate the stick until it is behind you, bring it back in front of you and repeat
Banded Tricep Stretch- 10-20 seconds each side
- Stand with your arm out and your forearm pointing up at 90 degrees. Place your stick in your hand and behind your elbow. With your other hand pull the bottom of the broomstick forward intermittently, be mindful of how this feels, do not pull so much that it causes pain
Barbell Punch Throughs x 20
- Take a moderately light resistance band put your foot in the bottom of the band and bring the band up and behind you so that your elbow is pointing up to the sky/ceiling- aim to keep a neutral spine, you can increase the stretch by turning your little finger out
Butchers Block Stretch 3-4x 5 sec – aim to increase this as you get used to the stretch
- Holding a stick or a resistance band take a supinated grip (underhand) and place your elbows on a bench or plyo box whilst kneeling on the floor, aim to have your hands outside of your elbows. Whilst keeping a neutral neck and spine start to sit back, to make this stretch harder you can put your body into a hollow position, this should stretch your lats out nicely
- Put your hands on the bar at the same width you would for your rack position, take the bar from the rack so that it is resting across your back and shoulders with your elbows pointing to the floor, you should then rotate your shoulders so that your elbows are pointing forward, push them as far as is comfortable to get a good stretch, you can also do this one at a time which can allow for a greater stretch
Following this shoulder mobility work I like to do some glute activation exercises.
The evidence around the impact of glute activation on performance is very limited and most studies show that glute activation does not lead to any increase in force production
With that said, in my opinion glute activation is a great tool to have in your arsenal and an essential element of your warm up
Personally, by activating the muscle groups that I will be using during a specific lift I feel that I have a greater ability to recruit them when necessary throughout the movement through that greater mind, muscle connection.
Examples include being able to recruit the glutes in the dip and drive of a press or jerk, firing glutes and quads on the log clean or locking in lats on the deadlift to name a few
In terms of glute activation exercises, my favorites include:
- Step Ups x 10 each leg
- Take a box or plates piles up if you don’t have access to a box or bench, place one foot on the box- think about using the quads, glutes and hamstrings in the leading leg and avoid pushing off your trailing leg, step back down with control each rep
- Banded Good Mornings x 10-20
- Place the band under your feet and around your shoulders, feet hip width apart and facing forward, push your hips back, feel the stretch in the hamstrings and squeeze your butt to come back to the top (I refer to this as ‘cottage cheese bum’ – like when you squeeze your butt and it goes wrinkly- that’s what you want!)
Banded X Walks x 20 each way
- Take a resistance band and place under your feet, you then want to cross the band over and hold at hip height with full tension in the band, have a slight bend in your knees and take small lateral steps, this should give a lovely pump!
Lying Clams x 10-20 each side
- Lying down on the floor on one side with your knees bent at a 45 degree angle and feet together. Keep the arm (on the side you’re lying on) bent and under your neck and head for support. Keep the spine neutral and lift the top leg up, keeping feet together and knees bent- don’t be concerned with lifting your knee super high, so long as you can feel your abductors working
I will also often follow up these activation exercises with some plyometric jumps dependent on which overhead event I will be doing; this can include: standard box jumps, straight leg box jumps or depth jumps.
Now that you’ve worked on the moving good part, onto the lift better part!
Make sure that you don’t jump straight into your top sets, take time to warm up with an empty bar perfecting the movement patter on the lift you will be performing and steadily add weight until you reach your working weight
You should approach each warm up as if it is your top set. Filming your warm ups can also be super helpful in identifying what is going well and being able to make any small changes necessary
Once you’re warm, mobilized, prepped and ready to go- GO SMASH!!