Lifting Heavy Things Overhead

I like to think I know a thing or two about overhead pressing.  In fact, while many get their kicks out of benching, running, wearing skinny jeans, or doing the Harlem Shake, it probably comes as no surprise that the following quote governs the way I look at life:


"The day the barbell was invented, the guy who invented it figured out a way to pick it up and shove it over his head.  After all, it IS the logical thing to do with a weight."

As such, I usually get a few questions about techniques, programming, and all the subtleties of lifting heavy things over one's head.  However, before we even get there, it's important to ask: should you even be lifting things over your head?

The answer depends.  If you have great shoulder mobility, then yes.  And of course, if you don't, you'd probably have a safer time trying to clear snow from a running snow blower than trying to lift anything over your head.

So, with that said, how do you know if you're ready to press anything overhead?  I answer that question in a short video below:

I hope that made sense.  If you can't truly get your arms above your head (with your head, back and butt staying flush against the wall), then it's silly to think you'll be able to get in that position when you add any weight.  To further that point, even a pull up or chin up is probably not the right place to be if you can't complete that drill without a problem.  

If you're unable to reach the wall, then keep with this drill until you can eventually do so.  I've followed this plan with several clients of mine, and a few of them able to touch the wall after only a week or two. 

And, for the love of all things sacred, once you start pressing overhead, never ever, ever do this: