As Seen On

Misses Are Just Warm-ups: Going for Your Max in the Overhead Press

I have a little saying that I coined about two years ago that goes like this:

Misses Are Just Warm-ups

Warrior Presses Savage

This is a mental approach that you have to take when your overall training goal is STRENGTH.

You missed a new PR Lift? So What? Try it again.

You didn’t break your previous best mark on your first try? So what? Try it again.

If you set up your lifts right, you should always have at least three good attempts in you to set a new PR. And in some cases, even more.

It doesn’t matter what kind of strength you are going for: Grip Strength, Powerlifting, Olympic Lifting, Strongman Training – all of them require certain factors to be right.

If any of these factors are not right, then you might not complete your lift, even though in reality you are strong enough to complete it.

Here are just a few things that can be “off” when you go for a max and keep you from setting a new PR:

Not Warmed Up Right: Maybe a muscle group wasn’t activated properly. Get used to doing a proper warm-up, figure out what works for you and do it every single workout. It took me several weeks to figure out the right warmup for me, but after experimenting, I have figured out a great series of movements to get everything primed prior to touching the weights.

Not Mentally Focused: If you get your attention thrown off course for just an instant prior to a lift, it can be enough to interrupt your lift. This is something that takes practice too, like any other skill. Once you get this one down, if you lose your focus before a lift, take the time you need to get back on track mentally.

Wrong Music: Some songs not only don’t do anything to pump you up, but they actually bring you down. For me, it even seems that some songs that used to be go-to anthems for PR’s do nothing for me now. In fact, I have often been shutting the music completely off during my bigger lifts because it has been more of a distraction than anything lately. I used to think people who said this were smoking hash or something, but recently I have been living it.

Got out of Line / Mechanics: You can do a lift 50,000 times in your life the right way and then right when you are about to go for a PR you do it improperly. Gripping the bar in the wrong spot, wearing a different pair of shoes, something “out” in your spine or neck, chewing gum, inadvertently rushing the lift: all of these things can get your mechanics off and throw you out of technical alignment.

Central Nervous System: The CNS is the electronic framework for strength. If it isn’t primed and ready to go, none of these other factors matter.

All of these things may seem minimal, but in reality, these and other things can be HUGE when it comes to setting a new all time best.

Recently, I was going for a fairly big lift in the Standing Military Press: 235-lbs. This wasn’t truly a PR, as I have done this much and slightly more in the past, HOWEVER, it had been a while since I tried this lift.

Going into the lift, I was confident I could get it, but on the first attempt, it just didn’t feel right. It felt as if I rushed the press and the barbell got out of track. Both of these technical and mechanical problems kept me from putting the weight overhead on the first lift.

But I knew I could get it, so I went for it again. I barely even rested. It was just enough time to take off my belt and wraps, review the video clip, and put everything back on – maybe 2 minutes. This time I did not rush the press and made sure to brace hard with my lats and squeeze a bit harder on the barbell. This kept the bar in line where it needed to be and it went right up.

Like I said, this wasn’t a PR, but it felt damn good to come back and get it after a miss, and that success carried over into the rest of my workout. That kind of mental lift can be a great kick in the ass.

You know the feeling I am talking about. When you set a new PR at the beginning of a workout, you feel like a monster. Like the world champion. Like you can set a new PR on 10 or 12 other lifts that day and then go kill some zombies. That kind of feeling.

Now imagine if I would have said, “Ah Crap, I missed it,” and I just moved on. I would have totally lost that mental boost. You can’t do that. You’ve got to be ready to give it at least one more try when you are going for that PR.

Today, I also had the opportunity to review a new book on the market called Hampton Strength Systems. This is a program built around the Bench Press and The Squat written by Dennis B Weis and David Hampton.

I found it very interesting that this book contained an actual process for setting a new PR, ot “Maxing Out” as it is often called. Check out some of the major points it outlines for setting a PR: (via the Hampton Strength Systems – Bench Mode Training Manual)


When attempting a maximum, things will be a little different than when working out. First, do two warm-up sets with 50%, and a third set if you need it. Then begin your climb.

    Set #1: 75%, 3 reps
    Set #2: 80%, 3 reps
    Set #3: 85%, 1 rep
    Set #4: 90%, 1 rep
    Set #5: 95%, 1 rep
    Set #6: try to set a new max by at least 10-20 lbs.

Do this for both movements. The Bench press and the Barbell back squat. Do no assistance work afterwards. This is not a workout day. It’s a max day!

NOTE: Be sure to have a training partner present so they can spot for you. Be upbeat and pumped. Listen to your favorite music. Wear your favorite shorts or whatever it takes to make you feel totally confident and ready. Once you have set your new max, you are ready for Cycle #3. Even if you fail to set a new max, continue onto the 3rd Cycle. Remember, getting stronger can take months and years, not just days and weeks.

1. Your max should increase every time you attempt it. Try to break it by at least 10 lbs., but if you can push it up more than that, then by all means do. But only attempt a max when it is time to according to the outlined the course.

2. Remember, take your breaks. Do nothing more or less than the course requires. Take 3-5 minutes rest between sets.

3. Always use training partners and spotters.

4. As I said earlier, eat heartily and gain weight.

5. Give it plenty of time. Getting bigger and stronger doesn’t happen overnight. Be faithful to this course for at least two years and see where it takes you. You’ll be very pleased. If you do get bored or burned out on this course, jump over to a bodybuilding routine for a few weeks, but then get right back on this course.

6. If you injure yourself at anytime during this course, then do not train the injured area at all. Don’t do any movement that aggravates the injury. If you must, stop training all together in order to let the injury heal. When you start training again, start very easy on the injured area. Make sure it heals completely.

7. If you’re only interested in the bench press, then drop the squat workouts and replace it with the bench press workout. The same applies if you are only interested with the squat. The routine has both because this is the way I used it.

8. Here is a list of alternate exercises that you can substitute or trade for another of the same body part each time you go through the course. But remember, don’t add any exercise without removing one. Do nothing more than stated in this course.

Now, obviously, there is a ton of other great information on the Bench Press and Squat included in the Hampton Strength Systems – Bench Mode Training Manual. In fact, this is something that would compliment the Deadlift Dynamite manual that came out a couple of weeks back.

When you pick up the Hampton Strength Systems – Bench Mode Training Manual, send me your receipt and I will send you one of two awesome bonuses:

  • Top 10 Tips for Overhead Press: I wrote this free report a few weeks back as a bonus for another product related to shoulder health called, Fix My Shoulder Pain. It contains 10 Killer Tips for bringing up your overhead press. Feedback has been great, and it will be expanded into a product soon enough.
  • Never Drop Another Deadlift: I shot this 20-minute video to assist everyone with their Grip Strength who picked up Deadlift Dynamite through my link. It gives you 5 ways to bring up your grip strength specifically for the deadlift, as well as how to build your on band-resistance deadlift platform. In time, this will also be expanded into a video product.

Whichever fits your training needs best; just let me know and I will shoot it over to those who pick up the Bench Mode Manual through my link.

All the best in your training,


Articles You Might Also Like:

Tags: , , , , , , ,


Leave a Reply