Overhead press

Upper Strength General Progression 2

Overhead pressing


  • Development of upper body pushing strength (shoulder dominant)


Start position of an overhead press.

Top position of an overhead press.

  • In a standing position, hold a barbell or dumbbells slightly wider than shoulder- width apart

  • Position the barbell/dumbbells at shoulder height with the elbows tucked close to the body

  • Tighten the trunk muscles, retract your chin, and take a breath in

  • Push the weight directly overhead until the elbows straighten

  • As the weight passes overhead, push the chest up and out so the barbell/dumbbells finish over the crown of the head

  • Lower the weight down to the start position by leading with the elbows so they remain close to the body


  • Learning: 3 x 8–12 repetitions (2–3min recovery) with a light barbell or dumbbells

  • Basic strength: 3 x 5–7 repetitions (2–3min recovery) at RPE of 7–8 or 70–85 per cent 1RM

  • Maximum strength: 3–5 x 1–4 repetitions (3–5min recovery) at RPE of 8–10 or 85–100 per cent 1RM


  • Increase load

  • Handstand press-up