Note from Chase: I had the pleasure of meeting and training with Dimitar last summer. Dimitar is not only a very strong guy – he’s also really smart when it comes to how to get stronger. We talked training quite a bit that day and I left with some great gems of information. I even wrote a short article on the things we discussed titled – “Bulgarian Strongman”. So when Dimitar contacted me about running an article he wrote on the overhead press I didn’t hesitate in saying yes. Just watch the video below and you’ll understand why.
Increasing Your Overhead Press
By: Dimitar Savatinov
I want to talk about overhead press which is my favorite event in the sport, anything overhead. I started training overhead press for the first time in my life in early 2009 and I barely was lifting 225lbs for 5 very hard reps. Since then I’ve been pushing harder and harder to get my overhead to over 500lbs.
My favorite exercise which helps me and keeps helping me to get my overhead press bigger is the incline bench press. But before I start my incline I do some work on the regular bench. Depending on the contest coming up, I change my training to lighter reps or heavier reps on both lifts. If I have 2 months with no contest, my main training is always for more reps. In my opinion, more reps are what make you stronger. If you have to lift singles at a contest, 5-6 weeks before switch to less reps with heavier weight for triples, then down to doubles. You already got the strength made by the rep work and you just need to adjust to singles.
When I start my regular bench, I try not to get myself too tired so I can do my main workout on the incline. What I will do is just some random numbers, 500lbs for 3 sets of 5 on the regular bench. I pick a weight that I could do at least 3 sets of 10. I use it like a warm up for the incline. I will start the incline also from warm up weights and graduate to my working sets. I will do 8-10 reps for 3-4 sets which I will try to do with weight that the last reps are very hard.
I like the incline bench because it gives me a lot of strength in my front delts and upper chest. These are very important for the sport of strongman because the pressing events are very hard to split jerk and you need more brute strength. The way I like to do the incline bench and is the way that is working best for me, is to stop for a second on the chest and then try to press the fastest that you can. This is giving the explosion needed for the implement to come off the chest, of course working together with your legs. The way I place the bar on my chest for incline bench is in the middle of my chest.
To finish the movement you need very strong triceps which I do on another day with my actual overhead press. I think that training pushing movements 2 times a week is good because 80% of the muscles you use to push are triceps, chest, shoulders, and they are smaller muscles and recover fast enough, especially if you have good nutrition.
With all the strength and power you still need very good technique, which took me long time to get better. I see a lot of the guys I compete against make a very big mistake by holding the bar in their hands, which is very wrong. You have to keep the bar, log, axel, keg, anything you overhead, on your chest and shoulders, like Olympic Lifting, so you can use your legs for the push-press. Otherwise when the bar is seated in your hands. First, it is very dangerous for your wrists, elbows, and shoulders and back because when you squat down to do the dip for the push-press, the bar is moving with you and when you start come up the bar is still pressing down and all this pressure is going to your joints. Second, when the bar keeps moving down and your body is moving up you can’t use the inertia from your legs. What happens is your legs are already straight and then you start pushing the bar is this dip where you did was just waste of energy and you doing pretty much a strict press with a dip. But, if the bar is on your chest and you use your legs good enough, you can get easily get 8″ just legs. The explosion you worked out with your incline bench and then you start pushing with all other muscles which are triceps, shoulders, upper chest, rear delt and if you want to believe me, with your whole back. This is pretty much what I can think of right now but if you guys and girls like that what you see, just let me know and I can write about whole body workouts. Just let me know what you are interested in. Thanks for reading and I hope I help somebody with my explanation.
Dimitar Savatinov is an ASC Pro Strongman. He finished 3rd place at the “American Strongest Man” competition at Olympia, just 1/2 point out of 2nd. For more information on Dimitar look him up on Facebook and YouTube.
Dimitar on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/dimitar.savatinov
Dimitar on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC5jZyzw2BpwS2-77SyMSs8A?feature=watch