Overhead Lifting Progress – Dumbbell Press Milestone Accomplished
I have been continuing my pursuit of improved pressing power as well as improved flexibility, range of motion, and thoracic mobility in my training.
As I have outlined before, as my movement quality improves in my upper body, my lifts continue to go up, which is no surprise.
However, I am used to having to put in hours and hours of intense training in order to see the awesome improvements I have been seeing the last few weeks.
Being able to move up in my overhead press simply by including simple stretches and other soft tissue and mobility work is really blowing me away. But I’m not complaining though!
New PR: 100-lb Dumbbell Military Press
Last week, I was able to “clean” two 100-lb Dumbbells to my shoulders and then press them overhead to lockout for two sets of singles.
Questions on Pressing Exercise Selection
I received a question in the comments on this video, so I thought I would address it here…
Question: I prefer doing those sitting down. I can do a couple of reps on 200lbs sitting down with supported back. Not standing up. I think I can do heavier weights sitting down. Don’t you like sitting? Any benefits standing up that I miss out on sitting down?
Answer: It isn’t that I don’t like performing my presses sitting down. My preference is to do them standing because it is more of an athletic position to be standing. My background is in athletics, so I prefer closed-chain lifts, where you are standing and the body bears the weight, rather than sitting.
As far as a “back safety” perspective, there is actually increased risk for some people to perform exercises seated, especially overhead work, because of compressive forces in the lower back. If I do seated press, I really feel these compressive forces. I do not feel them at all when standing.
As far as the supported back, to me that just gives an advantage to the lift. Stability is increased, so you probably can press more weight sitting down, but maybe that means your core is not as strong as it should be. Doing presses standing is a less stable movement, meaning it will require more out of you to perform them.
Highlights from the Above Workout
After the first set where I used my legs to get them to my shoulders, I just had to try to do a power curl and sure enough was still able to press them.
This is a feat that even at my very strongest when I was between 24 and 26 years old I was never able to accomplish. My best overhead lift with dumbbells that I can remember was either 120 or 125-lb dumbbells, but I had to Push Press them in order to lock them out.
In the past, a lot of my overhead work was marked with extreme backward bending. While the video may look like I am doing that above, it is nowhere near what I used to do. My glutes fire hard to help with stability, and that bring my hips forward, but the legs are not pushing and I am not actively arching myself under the weight like i used to do in the past.
I am still not getting the thoracic extension I want, so I need to keep working at that. I am sure it will come with continued focus on that aspect.
Protocol I am Using
If you want to see the main flexibility and mobility drills I have added to my routine, then check out this post: Continued Improvement in Overhead Press. They are very simple and add very little time to your training. I mainly do them during my rest periods between sets.
On top of those drills, I have also gotten some horse liniment from Absorbine. This stuff smells horrid. It is so bad that I subconsciously forgot about it after using it just once, but other clients who visit the same massage therapist I do have claimed it has really helped them out with pain and inflammation reduction. So I want to keep trying it.
Massage Therapy Updates
I had my second massage session targeted specifically for improving my shoulder/torso health today and we now have two plans of attack…
1. Root Cause of it All? I dropped a bar on my chest in January of 2009 that really did some damage to my sternum. Like an idiot, I never got that checked by a doctor, so I was never given a diagnosis of exactly what happened, but after talking about the last few years of training, my therapist and I have narrowed that down as one of the primary causes for underlying issues in my shoulder.
Again, that is only one underlying cause. The hours I have spent working at desks over the last 4 years have not helped, along with other postural behaviors. However, immediately after that happened, I remember feeling like if I puffed my chest out too far, my sternum would hurt, so it is reasonable to think this might be where the problems started.
2. Rotator Cuff: Today, before our session, I told the therapist my left lat was really sore at the insertion point. Unfortunately, I was wrong, because it isn’t my lat, it’s my rotator cuff. She discovered that some of the muscles in my left rotator cuff seemed to be extremely tight. I know that they were extremely sore when she stimulated them. So if I have an injury there, it could be that the prime movers, especially the pecs and teres major might be trying to safeguard the joint my immobilizing it.
I can tell you one thing that is for sure – when I try to lift the Inch Dumbbells in a suitcase deadlift, there is some intense pain in my left shoulder which burns like someone is jabbing me with a red hot fireplace poker, so I am going to add in some more rotator cuff work as well.
I am also continuing to powder my day with extra rest breaks from the computer and time in the doorway doing a variety of stretches. I have lots of doorways in the house and I just hang out in them while I do things like wait for coffee to brew or as I warm up my green eggs and ham in the microwave (just checking to see if you are reading).
I am Pumped: Continued Progress
Improvement has been a slow process, but I am still progressing forward. I like Instant Gratification and just want to wake up one day with super supple shoulders and impeccable posture, but I know that when something is allowed to get bad for many years, it is going to take some time for it to improve. I think this multi-faceted approach to improving flexibility, mobility, soft tissue quality, etc will all pay off for a great deal of improved performance in more than just my pressing.
And despite the slow progress in my flexibility, there is no arguing with the increases I have been seeing in my overhead work.
Despite the tweaks here and there, I am pumped. In January, I would have been happy to get the 85-lb dumbbells for a single. I have now done those for a set of 6 and the 100’s for two singles, so I am psyched.
I have to get back to work on some other posts I have planned for this week. make sure you are signed up for updates. You can do that in the form below.
All the best in your training.
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- Continued Improvement in Overhead Press
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