11 July 2012

Pimpin' Ain't Easy #3- Lift Her Up Just Like A Pick Up Truck

If there was every a series of movements about which the bitching goes from interminable to all-consuming and back, it is the overhead pressing family.  In my previous two installments in this series, I covered the utility of the strict military press, the necessity of higher-frequency overhead work, and sundry other issues.  Given that I'm still inundated with questions about overhead work, it seems my work here is not yet done.  As such, I shall continue expounding upon the fact that doing frequent, heavy overhead work is more beneficial than a jumbo pack of condoms when dropping Ecstasy with crack whores.

I'm Sure To Score, Endure For More Without A Flaw
I have found of late that the more frequently I train my shoulders, the better they look and the stronger they are.  Over the last two years I've gone from once or twice a week to anywhere between 4 and 8 times a week and the only way my shoulders could get stronger, leaner, or more vascular would be if they morphed into my cock.  Additionally, training Klokov Presses (snatch-grip, strict, behind-the-neck military presses for British assholes who like extraordinarily wordy exercise names) on a daily basis seems to have helped my pressing abilities overall, in addition to training my ability to grind an exercise well beyond that to which I am typically used.  I'll get to grinding in a moment.  Before I do, however, you should take note of the fact that the best pressers in the world, just like the best benchers and best deadlifters, practiced their lift of choice as often and aggressively as male bonobos masturbates, which is to say "very".

As I realize that bitching about drugs is set to commence at any time and that half of you are already masturbating furiously, drooling on yourself, and screeching "STEROIDS!!" like you're Bobcat Golthwait on a half pound of cocaine in the eleventh installment of the Police Academy series, I'll impart a bit of wisdom from the almighty Dezso Ban, who seems to be a fairly well-respected (if obscure) strength coach.  For those of you who require more evidentiary information before accepting the advice of a long dead man with a bizarre name, he was the strength coach of a variety of exceptional lifters in the 60s and 70s, and was an accomplished lifter himself.  According to Anthony Ditillo,

"At a bodyweight of around 190 lb. he clean and jerked close to 380. He power cleaned and pressed 285 for 3 sets of 5 repetitions; regularly did shrug pulls from the floor with close to 500 lbs.; stiff leg deadlifted 605 for three doubles, after a 50-set back workout and front squatted, Olympic style, 455 for 5 reps. He also did back squats, Olympic style, 445 for 5 sets of 5; hyperextensions with 185 on his shoulders; once shrugged 940 lb. for a triple (I witnessed this myself); snatch grip shrugged 775 for sets and reps between 5 and 10 and he also power cleaned with thumbless grip and NO KNEE DIP WHATSOEVER, 335 lbs."(Ditillo)  

Ban's opinions on training were not markedly unlike my own, proving once more that I was born on the wrong continent and in the wrong time period, what with my belief that human beings are capable of far more awesome in any given day than most strength coaches would allow in a week.  In any event,

"Dezso believes in training six days per week. Three Squat days, three Pull days and Presses are done EVERY DAY that you train. The total number of sets of leg work goes to around 50 per workout, along with close to 30 sets of pressing. This is done three days per week. On alternate days he would do close to 50 sets pulls along with an additional 20 to 30 sets of pressing movements. We should also include the assistance work such as Roman Chair for the abdominals and Hyperextensions for the lower back. These were also done three times per week."(Ditillo)  
In other words, Ban was recommending that natural lifters train shoulders 6 days a week for a minimum of 20 sets a day.  Ban was incredibly old-school, and developed his training methods prior to the advent of steroids.  Given that his greatest pupil, Anthony Ditillo, could perform "a seated press to his forehead with 435 pounds for 3 reps"(Poliquin), Deszo seems to have known what the fuck he was talking about.

Given the fact that Ditillo resembled no one more than alleged strongman and obviously homeless Milo contributor Steve Justa, you might require further evidence.  It's a bit of a pain in the ass to find information on great pressers at this point, given that pressing's no longer a competitive lift in any major sport.  Certainly MHP is leading the way in the effort to bring the lift back by including it in their pro meets, but that's about the only place you're going to see pressing in competition outside of strongman.  Thus, you either need to jump in the wayback machine to find old school oly lifters or look to our strongmen for inspiration.  Thus, I've done just that for you guys.  The following lifters are considered some of the best in their respective sports, and put more weight overhead than most of you have likely successfully squatted.

Rip Up The Whole Set, I'm About As Bad As You Can Get

Jim Bradford-  Back before most of us were born, a beast of an Olympian named Jim Bradford shrugged off some of America's collective Olympic weightlifting shame with what has been described as a military press so pretty it made Marilyn Monroe look like the chick from the show Mike and Molly.  According to US Olympic Weightlifting coach Jim Schmitz, "Bradford just stood straight and pressed 180 kg with his arms and shoulders, using pure raw strength" while "While everyone else was doing a little heave and layback."  Bradford took two silvers in the Olympics, and posted his best numbers in the 1960 Tokyo games, in which he posted a 1129 3/4 total consisting of a 396.75 press, a 330.5 snatch, and a 402.25 clean and jerk at a bodyweight of 286 lbs.

Bradford's routine, according to John McCallum, is as follows.  Oddly, it makes no mention of the Bradford Press, named for the epic presser.  If you've not heard of it, it's likely not because you've never done it, but rather because you simply had no idea what it's called.  It was one of the first overhead movements I ever learned, though, and has always been the Jermaine Jackson of my shoulder workouts- a nice accessory, but it's not the stuff on which one would hang one's hopes and dreams.  In spite of the fact that I've been doing them for over 15 years, I only just discovered their name while researching Jim Bradford.  In high school we  called them front-to-backs, which is as apt a name as you'd find- the exercise consists of half presses from the back to the chest that go just high enough to graze the top of your head.  Thus, the bar basically moves in a short arc over your head and keeps constant tension on the shoulders.  If nothing else, it's a damn good warmup.  Irrespective of that omission, it's worth noting that Bradford put heavy weights overhead every single time he trained, either in a press or a snatch.

Jim Bradford Routine

Barbell Shoulder Press: 5 sets of 3 reps
Barbell Curl: 5 sets of 3 reps
Squat: Sets of 3 reps —- adding 10 lbs every set —– keep going until you miss
Pullovers: 8-10 reps (light weight) after every set of squats


Bench Press: 5 sets of 3 reps (using same weight on each set)
Hang Snatch: 5 sets of 3 reps
Hang Power Cleans: 5 sets of 3 reps
Deadlift: Sets of 2 reps until you miss (each set increase poundage by 20-30lbs)

Ken Patera-  Another of America's greatest weightlifting products, Ken Patera had perhaps the sickest press of all time, pushing 500 overhead with no leg drive.  Though his press wasn't quite the Mona Lisa that was Bradford's, Patera was still the first person to press 500 overhead.  Patera's best relevant lifts were Clean and Press: 505.5, Press Behind Neck: 418, 405x2, Press off rack: 535, Overhead squat: 440-3/4, and a Steep incline press: 485.  If you're in the mood to get dick-slapped by one of the strongest and craziest motherfuckers on Earth, check out his Baddest Motherfuckers entry here- you'll leave feeling as though you might have completely failed at life.  Like Bradford, Patera put heavy weights overhead every time he entered the gym, and trained at exceptionally high percentages of his one rep max.  The workout below may or may not be entirely accurate- it was the only one I could find, and makes no mention of sets.  Thus, take it for what it's worth- it's at least an example that you can train shoulders extremely heavily three times a week.

Ken Patera's Routine

Overhead squats: 135x3, 203x3, 255x3, 295x2, 325x2
Front squats: 225x3, 315x3, 405x3, 455x2, 520x1
Snatch high pulls from blocks: 225x3, 315x3, 365x3, 405x3
Press Behind Neck: 135x3, 205x3, 255x3, 305x3, 345x1


Press off rack: 135x5, 225x3, 395x2, 355x2, 405x1, 440x1, 480x1, 325x5
Clean grip high pulls: 255x3, 305x2, 355x2, 405x2, 455x2, 505x2, 555x2
Hyperextensions: three sets of ten (no weight)


Snatch: 135x3, 205x3, 255x2, 295x1, 315x1, 340x1, 360x1
Inclines: 225x5, 395x5, 345x3, 405x3, 430x1
Good Mornings: 135x5, 205x5, 255x5, 305x5

I'm suddenly feeling the urge to grind something.

Confuse and Loose Abuse and Bruise the Crews
Before I continue with examples of badass pressers, I'll come back to something I mentioned in passing earlier- grinding.  "Grinding" is part and parcel of powerlifting, but it's something Oly lifters never do, and is an extremely useful mental exercise as well as a physical one.  In case you're unclear as to what grinding is, I'll explain- it's the point in a lift where the bar slows dramatically and you have to exponentially increase your effort for very little tangible forward progress.  I'd imagine for most people it's miserable, but for masochistic sonsabitches like myself, it's the thing we anticipate most when lifting.  If you're not grinding, you're not going heavy enough, in my book.  Since he's expounded upon the benefits of grinding at great length, I figure there's no need to reinvent the wheel.  Thus, here's top-ranked lifter but astonishingly dull writer Mike Tuscherer on the value of grinding:
"I’ve heard it suggested before that lifters should use Max Effort work to learn how to strain.  The idea is that straining against a heavy weight will teach you further to strain during max attempts.  For someone who can’t grind, asking them to strain during Max Effort work is like asking them to lift a PR through sheer force of effort.  It’s not that they don’t want to strain – it’s that they can’t.  Granted, they may be able to strain during some lifts, but chances are those lifts don’t target their weak area of the force curve and likely won’t result in improved performance.
So what SHOULD they do?  The first thing to realize is that the best way to fix this kind of problem is not by any particular exercise.  If the above example was a bench press, then many people would no doubt try a very low board press or pin press to correct this problem.  That’s usually not going to work because even if you do get the board height correct, you won’t be training the same kind of strength that will transfer well to the contest lift.  A better approach is by doing more reps.
The Max Effort crowd does get at least one thing right – if you want to get better at grinding (and improve your force curve), then you have to practice.  But how does someone practice doing something they can’t do?  In this case, it’s by doing more reps.  Instead of doing max effort singles, do triples instead.  Do rep work instead of speed work.  How many reps really depends on where it fits in your training, but I would normally suggest 4 to 6 reps.  Work up to a 5 rep max instead of doing speed work and see how that plays out in the next several weeks.
If you don’t follow the Westside template, the trend is still fundamentally the same.  More reps per set.  A good friend of mine developed this problem while doing Sheiko-style training cycles.  He did an 8 week cycle where he kept the volume and intensity the same, but he simply did more reps in each set.  So instead of doing 5 sets of 3 at 80%, he did 4 sets of 4 at 80%.  That’s roughly the same number of reps and the same load, but more reps in each set.  The end result was some nice PR’s and an ability to grind that he had never experienced before."(Tuscherer)
Most of us are likely used to grinding on a great many exercises, ranging from hip thrusts to deadlifts, but never once gave a thought to grinding overhead lifts.  This is likely why you fucking suck at them, if you do- you can't grind it out.  Tuscherer gives his two cents above on the solution- more reps, while I have a slightly altered take- do reps on exercises that force you to grind.  Two exercises immediately spring to mind when I think of grinding out overhead presses- the Klokov Press and the Savickas Press.

The Klokov Press

The Klokov Press, otherwise known by whiny bitches on the internet by its intensely unwieldy original moniker "strict, snatch-grip, behind-the-neck press", is a lift recently popularized by a video of Russian Olympic Weightlifting phenom Dmitri Klokov performing it.  The lift is just as its name would indicate- it's a strict, snatch-grip, behind-the-neck press.  From what I've gathered, it's basically a warmup for Olympic weightlifters, and it's a hell of a warmup for anyone who a) wants to learn how to grind, b) wants more shoulder volume without overly taxing the rest of their body, and c) wants to get massive, ripped, supremely strong shoulders.  There's not a great deal to this exercise other than a concentrated effort not to use one's legs to drive the bar, and an unremitting desire to put the fucking weight overhead no matter the mental cost.  This lift is fucking brutal, but it pays dividends.  Since I began doing them, my behind the neck push press jumped from a horribly stalled 315 to 345, and it continues to rise.  I credit the Klokov Press more or less entirely with the improvement, as I've not trained the BTNPP much in recent months due to its horrifyingly complete exhaustion of every muscle group in your body.  For these, I typically range in reps over the course of the week from 10 to 1, alternating heavy and light days and generally staying in the 3-5 range.

The Savickas Press
The Savickas Press is the brainchild of a strongman who should really need no introduction, but if you've not heard of him, he won the World's Strongest Man twice, the Arnold Strongman Classic six times, the IFSA Strongman World Championships twice, Fortissimus, the 2008 Strongman Champions League overall title, and Europe's Strongest Man twice.  As such, when he imparts training wisdom, you should get out your fucking notepad and start scribbling notes as furiously as a stenographer in a trial that has Twista and Tech N9ne as its chief witnesses.  Savickas is considered to be the greatest strongman presser of all time, and holds the world record in a shitload of pressing events(Wiki):

Apollon's Axle Press for Max Weight - 215 kg (470 lb)

Apollon's Axle Press for Reps - 166 kg (370 lb) × 8
Log lift for Max Weight - 217.5 kg (480 lb) (
Giant Wooden Log lift for Max Weight - 210 kg (460 lb)
Apollon's Wheels Overhead for Reps - 155 kg (340 lb) × 8 reps
Metal Block press - 150 kg (330 lb)

Clearly, the motherfucker knows what he's doing.  Savickas credits his overhead strength with his eponymous lift.  The lift is done seated in a squat rack, with a regular BB, a fat bar, an axle or a log at shoulder height. With your legs straight out in front of you, flat on the floor (no bent knee),  press the bar/log overhead.  Savickas seems to favor a set/rep scheme of 6x3, so you'll probably want to stick with that.(Schmidt)  To be honest, I lack the hamstring flexibility to do this, but have managed it sitting cross-legged.  It's a bitch.  One recommendation I've seen online is to have your spotter stand behind you with his knee in your back to catch you if you tip backwards, which seems like a reasonable enough suggestion provided you have a training partner.

In the last installment of this series, I'll cover training for beginners, Tommy Kono's workload, Mariusz's unique take on getting badass shoulders, and a couple of Crossfit chicks who can put more weight overhead than you guys.

If you have at least one arm and don't put start putting weight overhead on a daily or near-daily basis after reading this, it's only because you aren't concerned with the shame you're bringing upon your family name.

Go press.

     Ditillo, Anthony.  Strength Training Without Drugs.  THE TIGHT TAN SLACKS OF DEZSO BAN.  http://ditillo2.blogspot.com/2009/09/strenght-training-without-drugs-anthony.html
     Horton, Nick.  Mariusz Pudzianowski’s Diet and Workout Schedule.  The Iron Samurai.  http://www.theironsamurai.com/2010/01/30/mariusz-pudzianowskis-diet-and-workout-schedule/
     Ken Patera.  Wikipedia.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ken_Patera
     McCallum, John.  Keys To Progress Training Routines. http://www.strength-oldschool.com/topic/63-keys-to-progress-training-routines-by-john-mccallum/
     Poliquin, Charles.  A Simple Formula for Muscle Growth and Maximal Strength Gains.  Charles Poliquin's Blog.  http://www.charlespoliquin.com/Blog/tabid/130/EntryId/377/A-Simple-Formula-for-Muscle-Growth-and-Maximal-Strength-Gains.aspx
     Schmidt, Julian.  Strongman secrets: how the world's mightiest men build their incredible strength and power.  Flex Magazine.  http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0KFY/is_5_24/ai_n26903256/
     Wilhelm, Bruce, "Ken Patera: Titan of Strength", Milo, July 1994.
     ┼Żydr┼źnas Savickas.  Wikipedia.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C5%BDydr%C5%ABnas_Savickas


  1. Holy shit...your K-Press is monstrous. 225? Sweet baby Jesus.

    Anyways, I wanted to say I'm sorry to you. It took me a greater part of 4 days to listen through the entire CnB 10 and I realize I acted like a douche (as your fans were so quick to point out). I had no idea there was a scale to define sexuality and I looked it up. I made some retarded jokes (I'm not clever enough to insult people...) and for that I'm also sorry.

    @ this post - Good stuff. Klokov, as always, remains a god walking amongst mere mortals. He's got a lot of hype and I hope he doesn't choke under the pressure.

    P.S. - That girl is so hot. Please...name????

    1. Haha. No worries at all. The chick is ranked #1 in strikforce and on the US judo team. Her name escapes me though.

  2. Why does it look like Ronda Rousey is in a glam rock/80's rock video?? jesus fucking christ that looks ridiculous but jesus fucking christ that body is amazing.

    After reading this I have to do shoulder's with two-a-days and throw in klovov press and feel like a bitch like everyone is mentioning.

    Also, Dezo Ban has got to be in the next baddest motherfucker installment. His shoulder routine with the press followed up by more press behind the back and bench work made me weep the first time I found it.

  3. Glad to see another overhead article in the wake of your benching series. Since checking out your blog in May I have since ditched the bench, and focused solely on BTNPP, Military, Weighted Dips, and a little bit of dumbbell benching as a maintenance measure. I have added 30 lbs to my weighted dips, and 20 lbs to my max military. I am interested to see how this effects my bench when I decide to put it back into my rotation. Your blog fucking rules!
    Before wandering over to your site, I spent 6 months in a training limbo, sheepishly hoping to hit my prescribed reps and max percentage on a given lift on a given day, 5/3/1,westside blah blah blah. Fuck that shit! Who would've thought doing the lifts you love and doing them often and enthusiastically would make you stronger?
    Keep up the good work.

  4. You appear to be getting a little scruffy there Jamie, you should shave off the beard part and grow a mustache, I hear you and Paul are a fan of them. Besides, growing a sick mustache could help you in "the biz" if you know what I mean. Not to mention it'll stave off the beetus.

  5. What are the bands/songs used in the press video?

    Great Post!

    1. World of Pain- Suffer, Structures- Encounter..., Emmure- Solar Flare Homicide, and Yesterday I Had Roadkill- Schicksal.

    2. that structures track has sick drums and guitar production, I checked out their album and I just can't stand alternating singing and growling within a track. You know of any bands with a sound like that who just stick to growls?

  6. I hope overhead presses don't catch on in PL because you just know Inzer and Westside will have no-neck guys going to meets in kevlar shirts that force their arms over their heads.

    Right now at my best I'm still stuck at 235x1 strict standing while weighing about 175, and my elbows feel like hot coals all the time.

    Also, LOL @ the detail on the hockey mask guy's watch.

  7. sick article,

    just watched this series which would`ve been better commented on here http://chaosandpain.blogspot.ca/2012/06/i-like-to-break-mental-sweat-too.html


    theres a series out with mofos who are everyday, unseen, n cnp.

  8. Awesome stuff, Jamie.
    The Klokov Press is the shit. For me, it has alot of carryover to the Bench and Deadlift.
    My shoulders get a lot of activation from it, but what´s usualy sore as fuck the day after heavy Klokovs is my traps and my neck.
    How do you personally implement everyday pressing? Alternating light and hevay days and lots of different OH variations?

  9. Whats your take on barbell curl and press? I've been cycling my accessory work between BB C&P for 5x3 and klokov presses and its too soon to tell what effect it is having. I do know however that I look fucking awesome doing them.

  10. Hey Jamie,

    I need a little advice. I am front squatting everyday at the moment (inspired by John Broz). Since squatting everyday has lead to an enormous strength gain I plan to train the shoulders and back everyday, too.

    Workout 1
    Front Squat to max single
    High Pull working up to 3 rep max
    Klokov Press working up to 3 rep max

    Workout 2
    Front Squat to max single
    Pull Ups 10x5
    Military Press working up to 3 rep max

    I alternate Workout 1 and Workout 2 everyday, training 7 days a week. I will max out on deadlift once a week instead of doing high pulls. Worth a try or do you think it is overkill (I am on gear).

  11. Props for posting a pic of Ronda Rousey.

  12. Mr Lewis. I have greatly appreciated reading this blog. Thanks.

  13. Did you start posting your vids on a new YouTube channel or are you still using "chaosandpain83"? Next question... I only really bench once a week and the rest of my pressing varies between strict military, front PP and BTNPP. My front delts are looking ridiculously large compared to my rear delts. I figured the heavy DB and BB rows, deads and shrugs would help bring my rear delts up but no such luck. Without wasting anytime on isolation movements how the fuck can I keep from looking like I have growths on the front of my shoulders when someone looks at me from the side?

  14. Articles like this are EXACTLY why I read C n' P. You ID why weight training sucks, show why it was way more awesome years ago, and find some good solutions to suck far less... along with throwing in some bitches that make me want to train harder out of fear of being overpowered by a woman.

    I might try that K-Press, starting it from the Steinborn way of loading a BB on the back.

    Nice work on this entry, Tucker!

  15. Great article indeed. One of the best in a while.

  16. Sup Jamie, I have to say I get sad everytime i read about great Ohp achieviments, =( I have a problem on left shoulder that keeps me from doing Ohp movements to often.

    Idk why it crossed ur mind to stop updating this WONDERFUL blog, saw I few comments but idk the big picture, and honestly i don't really care, all care is that ur blog is really good and have a lot of great reading material and I really hope that won't stop with it anytime soon...

    I'm currently trying a method suggested by you, doing a heavy Squat/press/pull on monday/wednesday/friday, and the other time I'm doing some light work, and I love it,I did try WSB,5/3/1 and some other shit but despite the decent progress I was geting bored to death, currently doing 385lbs on Squat,418lbs on Dl,297lbs on Bench with only 7 months of training, and thanks to u I'm still pissed off that I did not Squat more them 455, anyway I'm sry for the terrible inglish and hope this servers as one of the reasons to keep writing and giving motivation to ppl

  17. Snatch grip press behind neck. That's how it was known before Klokov had another stellar Youtube moment. Too bad Akkaev is going to take the 105 class in London.

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