overhead press plateau

ObsidianMist
ObsidianMist Posts: 519 Member
edited May 2016 in Fitness and Exercise
first off let me explain why I'm not even doing this exercise with the olympic barbell yet. if you don't care why, move along past this paragraph:

I had a session with a personal trainer to go over form with me for the exercises included in the stronglifts 5x5 program. he actually wanted me to put off starting it for 6-7 weeks and just use machines to get my strength up in the meantime. however I knew if I wasn't doing the moves, my body would forget how they should feel and my form would be *kitten* by the time I started doing the program and my money would have gone to waste. so as a compromise I started doing the program, but only lifting 15 pound bars to start out with. that way I could focus on form for a while instead of jumping right into lifting really heavy weight. I'm a petite female and there's no way I could have started off lifting a 45 pound olympic barbell right off the bat. besides, I'm still eating at a deficit, I have 7 pounds left to lose, so I realize I'm not going to make huge gains with my lifting right now since I'm not eating a lot and I have trouble getting enough protein to boot. maybe that's the whole issue. I don't know.

anyway, here I am a month later, and my squat, deadlift, and bentover row have been progressing pretty steadily. my benchpress has been a bit slower going, but still progressing more than my overhead press. for quite a while now I've been plateau'd at 30lbs with my overhead press. I continue to struggle to lift 30lbs so I haven't felt ready to increase to 35. I'm officially getting frustrated with it. so I was wondering if anyone has any ideas for how I can get stronger with this move. I was thinking about it in the shower and considering maybe doing like one set of 5 reps with a 35lb bar then doing the other 4 with 30lbs and then next workout doing 2 sets with 35 and the other 3 with 30 and continuing like that until I can get through all 5 sets of 5 reps with the 35lb bar? is just pushing through it my only option, or is there something else I can do? has anyone else struggled this much with this exercise?
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Replies

  • hill8570
    hill8570 Posts: 1,466 Member
    Everyone struggles with OHP. Sounds like you're using a fixed-weight bar, so the usual first solution of going to microplates (so you can progress at a slower rate) looks to be out. Could try increasing reps one at a time before bumping weight (so do 5x6 at working weight, 5x7 next time, then 5x8, increase weight, then drop back to 5x5... or maybe even 5x3 or 5x4...depends on how patient your are).
  • ObsidianMist
    ObsidianMist Posts: 519 Member
    hill8570 wrote: »
    Everyone struggles with OHP. Sounds like you're using a fixed-weight bar, so the usual first solution of going to microplates (so you can progress at a slower rate) looks to be out. Could try increasing reps one at a time before bumping weight (so do 5x6 at working weight, 5x7 next time, then 5x8, increase weight, then drop back to 5x5... or maybe even 5x3 or 5x4...depends on how patient your are).

    yeah until I get strong enough to lift 45+lbs, I'm stuck using the fixed weight bars at my gym so I have no choice but to go up 5lbs at a time because that's what's available to me. increasing reps for a while is an idea I hadn't thought of. thanks!
  • jemhh
    jemhh Posts: 14,273 Member
    edited May 2016
    Think of something to use in place of microplates. A few washers strapped on each end with short velcro strips, a pair of wrist weights wrapped on the bar, etc.
  • spockaholic
    spockaholic Posts: 2 Member
    I haven't started stronglifts yet, but I've been doing a different workout and increasing my overhead press with that.

    What I do is start off doing 4x5 at whatever my max is. The next workout, I do 1x6 and 3x5 at the same weight. Then 2x6 and 2x5 at that weight. When I can do 1x7 and 3x6, I bump the weight up for the next session and start again at 4x5. It's not the fastest method, but I increase my lifts consistently. (Or at least I did, until I reached a point where I also would have to go up about 5lbs at once. I need to invest in microplates.)
  • SeanNJ
    SeanNJ Posts: 153 Member
    Have you had someone check your form? Things we can get away with at a lower weight can restrict our progress when things start to get heavy. Recovery is important too. Strength programs generally counsel against doing other workouts at the same time since they essentially compete for those resources that would be used to build muscle and strength. If you're incorporating other workouts during the week, that could be contributing to your difficulty.
  • ObsidianMist
    ObsidianMist Posts: 519 Member
    the personal trainer I saw taught me proper form for all the moves, yes. and I follow the stronglifts program, so lift day, rest day, lift day, rest day, lift day, 2 rest days, start over. plenty of recovery time.
  • hill8570
    hill8570 Posts: 1,466 Member
    the personal trainer I saw taught me proper form for all the moves...

    Being trained is a great first step, but either videoing yourself to review (or to show others) or having someone experienced watch you is worth doing if you're having trouble making it through a sticking point. What we see in our minds and what our bodies are actually doing are often very different things.
  • ObsidianMist
    ObsidianMist Posts: 519 Member
    I'm pretty positive I'm doing exactly the same thing I was a month ago. the overhead press is fairly straightforward. I just tend to get a bit shaky during the last set of reps.
  • Chieflrg
    Chieflrg Posts: 9,081 Member
    Video from side and back will tell me a lot. I lift very heavy at OHP but wasn't always that way. Something I've had to work at to get to 225lb.

    While form is usually the culprit, I would point out if you are failing you should be dropping weight I usually do 10% and continue with program.

    OHP is almost always the first to fail and with good reason. So you're not alone at getting stuck.

    Incline dumbell press, flat bench and dips has helped me push through plateaus as accessory lifts. Something along those lines can be an option for you.
  • cgvet37
    cgvet37 Posts: 1,189 Member
    I know this will probably twist some panties, but work on some isolation exercises. Hit each head of your shoulder separately.
  • saramickeydee
    saramickeydee Posts: 115 Member
    I got some great advice (on another forum). I bought some large washers with a 2" hole in the center to use instead of fractional plates. Each one I received (ordered online) weighed 10.2 ounces. I think the four I bought plus shipping cost me about $15. So now I can increase in much smaller increments.

    My OHP lags way behind my other lifts but I keep hearing that's normal.

  • saramickeydee
    saramickeydee Posts: 115 Member
    hill8570 wrote: »
    Everyone struggles with OHP. Sounds like you're using a fixed-weight bar, so the usual first solution of going to microplates (so you can progress at a slower rate) looks to be out. Could try increasing reps one at a time before bumping weight (so do 5x6 at working weight, 5x7 next time, then 5x8, increase weight, then drop back to 5x5... or maybe even 5x3 or 5x4...depends on how patient your are).

    & yes I do this. It's not how the program is written but it's helping me. I up the weight on one set this workout, then next workout with ohp I up it for two sets, and so on.

    I think being in a calorie deficit, having a weaker upper body and maybe being female make progress in this lift slower than is written.
  • ObsidianMist
    ObsidianMist Posts: 519 Member
    I haven't failed, I just don't feel strong enough with it to increase the weight.

    I also have no money and can't afford to buy extra bits and pieces to attach to the bar.

    it's comforting to at least hear that it's common for it to lag behind. thanks for the tips!
  • hill8570
    hill8570 Posts: 1,466 Member
    cgvet37 wrote: »
    I know this will probably twist some panties, but work on some isolation exercises. Hit each head of your shoulder separately.

    Nor bad advice, especially considering the trainer she consulted recommended something similar.
  • jimmmer
    jimmmer Posts: 3,535 Member
    edited May 2016
    hill8570 wrote: »
    cgvet37 wrote: »
    I know this will probably twist some panties, but work on some isolation exercises. Hit each head of your shoulder separately.

    Nor bad advice, especially considering the trainer she consulted recommended something similar.

    Agree with this.

    Chuck in some front, lateral and rear delt raises. You'll see imediately if you have any l/r strength deficiencies and also how weak your rear delt are compared to the other bits of your shoulder.

    Then work on bringing up the lagging aspects while progressing you OHP game.

    Also: have your form rechecked. Someone said upthread: weaknesses/form issue creep that you get away with at lighter weights become a roadblock if you don't get out in front of them.

    Common issues are excessive lumbar movement/lack of bracing and poor scap control. Learning how to use the lats (built on engaged glutes and a braced core) makes things feel lighter too...
  • aimeelav
    aimeelav Posts: 26 Member
    You are not alone! I've been doing stronglifts for a little over a month now and can only do 50lbs 3x5 on OHP. The rest of my lifts have progressed so trying to not best myself up over it!
  • viren19890
    viren19890 Posts: 778 Member
    Try push press with heavy weight- heavier than you can lift right now. With push press you'd be able to do it. It'll give you the confidence and somewhat shock the muscles. Let go of OHP for couple of weeks completely and try push press. Keep in mind- not talking about cross fit move but push press.

    Also I'd like to point out- that 5x5 cannot be run forever - they eventually fail. They are well suited for beginners but after that, they just don't work.

    5/3/1 or something similar can last a lifetime because the program in itself has built in parameters to ensure that.
    You might've not run into a barrier yet but 5x5 just don't cut it.
  • SideSteel
    SideSteel Posts: 11,069 Member
    If you aren't progressing and your technique is solid then it's typically a matter of needing more training volume or more recovery.

    If you feel recovered and everything else is going well then I'd consider adding more training volume to the overhead press and see if that helps. Consider adding another set or building repetitions through a given range of reps before you add more weight to the bar.
  • ninerbuff
    ninerbuff Posts: 46,515 Member
    Since overhead press involves the triceps to a great degree, try working on increasing strength in them. Dips and close grip benching are starters.

    A.C.E. Certified Personal and Group Fitness Trainer
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    Been in fitness for 30 years and have studied kinesiology and nutrition

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  • shor0814
    shor0814 Posts: 559 Member
    I haven't failed, I just don't feel strong enough with it to increase the weight.

    I also have no money and can't afford to buy extra bits and pieces to attach to the bar.

    it's comforting to at least hear that it's common for it to lag behind. thanks for the tips!

    If you have completed all [email protected] lbs then add weight anyway and try. Follow the program's failure ans deloading protocol and move on. Don'the be afraid to fail at the heavier weight, that is part of progressing forward. If you never try then you will never find out.

    Look around the gym for 1 lb ankle weights, I bet you can find some and strap them to the bar. Then try your 5x5 at 32 lbs and see what happens.

    If you can post a video you should. Nothing bad can come of it.