The Press as a “Throw”


The Press as a “Throw”

by Mark Rippetoe | August 29, 2023

The “Olympic Press” –
the form of the overhead press we teach – uses a lot of whole-body
movement to drive the bar overhead. It is essentially a “throw,”
since it depends on momentum generated by the dynamic movement of the
hips and legs to start the bar up off the shoulders. We use it
because of the huge amount of muscle mass involved in the movement,
which is in keeping with our philosophy of barbell strength training:
1.) the most muscle mass used 2.) over the longest effective range of
motion that 3.) allows the use of the heaviest weights so that you
4.) can get stronger.

“Throwing”
is a perfectly natural movement for the human body, even though it
usually involves only one hand/arm. The kinetic chain starts at the
ground and the whole body is involved in accelerating the thrown
object. The press involves both hands, and is therefore an
incrementally loadable movement pattern that fits the definition of
strength training quite well.

We
have described the bilaterally-loadable human movements as squatting
down and standing back up (the squat), picking something up off the
floor (the deadlift), pushing something overhead (the press), pushing
something away (the bench press), pulling something toward you (the
chin or the barbell row), and throwing something up (the power
clean). The press – “pushing something overhead” – can be
thought of as a “throw” in a way that makes teaching the dynamic
movement of the body much easier.

People
understand that throwing is fast, dynamic, and explosive. Telling
them to throw the bar up and finish locking it out is a shortcut to
the instructions we use for the use of the hips in the press. It is
possible to teach it with just the movement details, but it is also
possible to rely on the movement skills that most people already
possess by tapping into the idea of “throwing” that we understand
from just being active little kids. This movement pattern will have
to be refined a little, since most people will use too much knee in
the launch from the shoulders, but that is easy to correct if the
general movement of the lower body is made understandable by this
shortcut.

I
have found that this trick saves a lot of time. Showing a new lifter
the basics of the standing position, the grip, the elbow and shoulder
positions, the shrug at lockout, and the hip movement are still
taught in the introduction to the lift, but telling the lifter to
“Just throw it up off your shoulders” immediately solves the
coordination problem between hips and bar. Hips first, bar second is
obvious if the model is a throw. You’ll have to teach “tight knees”
after a few reps, but that’s no problem at all. Try it yourself and
see how much time this saves.


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