Welcome to part one of the Strength is a Skill Series. While there are ten general skills that we are equally interested in developing, one has a tendency to greatly affect the others. Strength fixes everything. Over the course of this series we will be breaking down the set up and execution of the big strength lifts, Strict Press, Back Squat, Deadlift and Bench Press. Through video and blog posts, we will be reinforcing the cues and instruction that you will see in class.
Lay the Groundwork by Leaving Footprints
Even though the press is an overhead lift the feet and stance play an important role. Generally, you should set up with your feet hip width apart. Feet solidly planted in the ground. Feel like you are leaving footprints in the mat. Keep them planted throughout the movement. Sometimes we see people using body english, so to speak, by coming up on their toes during a heavy press. Root yourself into the ground and stay there!
Upright Rigid Torso/Full Body Tension
Strength comes from tension, which is why an upright rigid torso is important.Lift the chest in a proud checst postion. The rigidity of the torso comes from bracing of the abs, like you are going to receive a punch. This will provide a stable platform for pressing. No slouching!
In addition to the abs being engaged, it is important to also engage the glutes, the quads and the lats. In other words full body tension. Imagine that you are trying to push against the bar as if you were trying to press yourself into the ground. Everything should be tight prior to intiating the lift. Stack your shoulders over your hips, hips over knees, and knees over ankles.
Solid Hand, Wrist and Elbow Position
Make sure your hands are spaced equally on the bar. A good rule is to be approximately a thumbs length of the from the end of the knurling of the bar. This should put your hands in a good position of being just outside of the shoulders.
Straighten your wrist over your elbows. Elbows should be under the bar and slightly forward of the bar. This allows you to drive the bar vertically to the overhead postion.
Crush the Bar
Grip is an underated aspect of strength work. Grip the bar as if you were trying to bend it. This will help to squeeze the last bit of tension out of the lift.
Make sure you do these things for every lift whether it is a max effort or a training set at a lower percentage. Don’t do with a light weight what you would not do with a heavy weight.
Now you are ready to press!
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