[Weekly Review] February 2-8, 2015: Dead Stop OHP “Weird Trick”, 12 PRs and Stuff You Should Check Out

February 9, 2015 — Leave a comment

Leaning Back And The Overhead Press *

This past week I managed to hit 9 OHP (dead stop) PRs.

To be fair, I only started training this variation (it's a variation for me since I normally press with a rebound) a little over a week ago (January 30, 2015). Just by starting off with conservative weights, getting better at the technique and training it frequently will result in a lot of quick progress.

At first, I couldn't even press 250 lb from a dead stop, but now my 1RM is sitting at 280 lb.

Pressing from a dead stop without a rebound was very humbling at first, but it was also very instructive and educational. It reinforced a few things I'm sure all very strong pressers know: a lay back (or leaning back) is necessary for the overhead press. If you look at the the video when I first tried the dead stop OHP, and compare it to the videos below, you'll see a change in technique. At first, I was standing too erect. While some would consider this "good form" and "strict form", it is really inefficient form, because the bar was not in a proper position to press up in a straight(er) line. Since then, I shifted my hips forward, tilted my torso back slightly to position the bar above the mid-foot before pressing.

By making this small adjustment (a "weird trick"), I've taken my dead stop 1RM from 250 lb to 280 lb within a week.

Working pretty well, if you ask me.

I have gotten a few comments recently about leaning back during the press. For some reason, people think that standing erect during the press is good form, and leaning back is bad form.

To copy-and-paste a response I had on (goddamn) REDDIT to a self proclaimed "beginner" with a 5RM of 115 lb at a height of 5'10" and probably malnourished weight of 185 lb who referred to my OHP as a standing incline press:

Leaning back is necessary to get the bar closer to the invisible line above the mid foot, making for an efficient press (since heavy weights like to move in a straight line). Also, it helps position the head out of the way for a more vertical press (instead of pressing around the face). Leaning back can be minimal with light weights (because it's so light it's easy to control even if the bar is in a poor position), but when you approach heavy loads closer to your 1RM, you will lean back before and during the press.

Here's another response to another comment on another thread (that has since been deleted) about leaning back:

...my OHP 1RM is only 300 lb. I'm sure there are people here who consider this light and can press this weight with less leaning back, and have the bar curve around their head before pressing straight up, but this weight is my (current) limit for me, so I need to position my body so that I'm pressing up in as straight a line as possible. Almost all of my videos are pushing at some sort of limit (ie. some sort of PR attempt), so there's going to be a lean back in an attempt to produce a vertical bar path in the videos.

Leaning back is necessary for the OHP, especially with heavy weights/maxes/rep maxes. It's covered in the popular strength training book for beginners, "Starting Strength" (pp 90, 3rd edition).

Here's the text, for those who don't have the book:

12 Personal Records *

Overhead Press (Dead Stop): 250 x 1, 260 x 1 (1RM), 250 x 2 (2RM), 225 x 5 (5RM) *

Did 250 lb x 1 first, which was a 1RM (couldn't get it last week). Felt easy so went up to 260 lb. That felt OK still. I was thinking about pushing it up even more, but I'll save that for later on.

Dropped back down to 250 lb for a 2RM, then finished it off with a +25 lb 5RM PR from a few days ago. May have gotten another rep but my quads were cramping.

I think I'm starting to get the hang of this OHP with a dead stop.

Paused High Bar Squat: 475 lb x 4 (4RM) *

Wanted a 525 lb x 2 paused high bar squat first, but only got 1. I think my squat has been suffering from the winter blues lately.

Went for 5 reps with 475 lb, but only got 4. Still a PR.

Overhead Press (Dead Stop): 265 x 1, 275 x 1 (1RM) & 235 x 5 (5RM) *

265 lb x 1 is a +5 lb OHP 1RM from 2 days ago. Felt fast. Thought about going for 270 lb, but 275 lb looks better on the bar. 275 lb x 1 is a +10 lb OHP 1RM from a few minutes ago, and +15 lb 1RM from Monday. Not bad!

I think all that pizza I ate earlier this week is starting to show it's true power.

Finished off with 235 lb x 5 for a 5RM, which is a +10 lb PR from a couple of days ago #progressiveoverload #linearprogression #nevergiveuponnewbiegains

Overhead Press (Dead Stop): 280 x 1 (1RM) & 255 x 2 (2RM) *

Had to get some blood testing done this morning, and because blood was extracted from my body, my hit points (HP) is lower today.

Also saw a poster at the clinic that said not to lift anything heavy for 24 hours after a blood test. I complied. I was going to squat today, but changed it to another movement that uses lighter weight and kept the workout short (30 minutes).

Paused Front Squat (No Belt) 410 lb x 1 (1RM) & Dead Stop/Bottom-Up/Anderson Front Squat: 385 lb x 1 (1RM) *

410 lb x 1 paused, no belt was EZPZ.

Tried for a 420 lb beltless front squat 1RM after, but missed. Since the bar was on the safety pins, I figured why not try out the Dead Stop/Bottom-Up/Anderson Front Squat. Used a cross grip first for some reason. Couldn't get it with 410 lb. Lowered it to 385 lb and still couldn't stand up with it. Probably not accustomed to the cross grip, so I held onto the straps. Not bad! May have gotten 410 lb had I used straps.

Stuff You Should Check Out *

  1. Powerlifters Should Train More Like Bodybuilders by Greg Nuckols
    • More reasons to become a muscle sphere.

John Phung

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Ever since I started taking strength training seriously, I was bitten by the Iron Bug. Then it burrowed under my skin and laid eggs in my heart. Now those eggs are hatching and I... the feeling is indescribable.

Quick Stats
Height: 5'4" on non-squat days
Weight: 200 lb 210 lb ~220 lb (FOREVER BULK BRAH)


  • Texas Method: March 4, 2011 - April 28, 2013
  • Smolov Jr for Bench Press: June 4 - 22, 2012
  • Starting Strength: Nov 29, 2010 - March 4, 2011