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  1. #1
    Registered User EliKoehn's Avatar
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    Has the OHP gone to the wayside?

    In the ever-oscillating ebb and flow of lifting trends, the popularity of certain exercises and practices waxes and wanes routinely, and this neither surprises nor bothers me. However, I'm not able to get an obvious read on that as it pertains to the OHP.

    To those of you who have been involved with or following lifting and bodybuilding for decades, I'd be curious to know what your impression is as to how this has changed over time? Apparently, back in the days of Reg Park and (yes) Vince Gironda, the overhead press was actually the primary metric of upper body strength, and was a more meaningful stat than the bench press.

    In my own experience in the gym, I see more people performing them than I ever have before, but also have been reading more negative commentary about the exercise overall than I recall previously being privy to. That said, I'm not on Instagram, stopped reading T-Nation years ago, and am only passingly on YouTube fitness, and so am likely missing plenty of mainstream influence, unless it's also reflected here.

    I like them conceptually, since achieving a high number with them really is hard to do and testifies to a lot of legitimate strength. That said, they're risky injury wise and might overlap too much with other stuff outside of specializing for them, for hypertrophy and other recovery purposes.

    So (particularly to those who have been around a while), what kind of reputation do you think they have, and do you think as an exercise it's gaining or losing in perceived importance?
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    Unregistered User MyEgoProblem's Avatar
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    I used to train ohp twice a week but needed quite a lot of workload to illicit the adaptations to get stronger and grow...

    Now I use ohp more as a tester type lift that shows my gains, rather that as a driver.

    My bench, tricep work and strict front raises build my ohp about as well as actually doing it, with much less recovery demands.

    For clarity. Im 41 with a smashed up shoulder with missing ligaments that has reduced rom. It takes a beating doing ohp. I can only perform it with a close to the smooth grip.

    I do love the ohp, and id like to think id go back to doing it more often one day. Blasting iron over head is a damn good feeling.
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    Registered User WolfRose7's Avatar
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    Think it's about the same as ever.
    Personally find them boring, and ceiling height forces seated press anyway, which I honestly think I prefer.

    Log presses are cool though.
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    I quite like it but performance really drops fast when you stop doing it, even if you just do higher reps for a while - bit depressing considering I got within spitting distance of a bodyweight OHP.
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    I think it one of those things that had a resurgence in popularity because certain personalities started pushing it. There is a reason it fell to the wayside years before.

    Now people are starting to come around to the fact that it isn’t the shoulder builder they were led to believe.
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    Originally Posted by EliKoehn View Post
    In the ever-oscillating ebb and flow of lifting trends, the popularity of certain exercises and practices waxes and wanes routinely, and this neither surprises nor bothers me. However, I'm not able to get an obvious read on that as it pertains to the OHP.

    To those of you who have been involved with or following lifting and bodybuilding for decades, I'd be curious to know what your impression is as to how this has changed over time? Apparently, back in the days of Reg Park and (yes) Vince Gironda, the overhead press was actually the primary metric of upper body strength, and was a more meaningful stat than the bench press.

    In my own experience in the gym, I see more people performing them than I ever have before, but also have been reading more negative commentary about the exercise overall than I recall previously being privy to. That said, I'm not on Instagram, stopped reading T-Nation years ago, and am only passingly on YouTube fitness, and so am likely missing plenty of mainstream influence, unless it's also reflected here.

    I like them conceptually, since achieving a high number with them really is hard to do and testifies to a lot of legitimate strength. That said, they're risky injury wise and might overlap too much with other stuff outside of specializing for them, for hypertrophy and other recovery purposes.

    So (particularly to those who have been around a while), what kind of reputation do you think they have, and do you think as an exercise it's gaining or losing in perceived importance?
    Great question!

    Would be fun to see a study on OHP and shoulder health. Seems like none of the bros can agree on this and I've seen back and forth arguing about this all over the internet for a long time. Ranging from "it's great for your shoulders" to "it leads to shoulder injury no question!!"

    I don't see though how barbell OHP would inherently be more risky for the shoulders than alternative vertical presses (e.g. seated dumbbell shoulder presses or handstand/pike pushups). But I could see it being more risky for the lower back compared to alternatives so maybe that's the issue when comparing with alternative vertical presses?
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  7. #7
    Registered User air2fakie's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by EiFit91 View Post
    Great question!

    Would be fun to see a study on OHP and shoulder health. Seems like none of the bros can agree on this and I've seen back and forth arguing about this all over the internet for a long time. Ranging from "it's great for your shoulders" to "it leads to shoulder injury no question!!"

    I don't see though how barbell OHP would inherently be more risky for the shoulders than alternative vertical presses (e.g. seated dumbbell shoulder presses or handstand/pike pushups). But I could see it being more risky for the lower back compared to alternatives so maybe that's the issue when comparing with alternative vertical presses?
    I know we're all exactly 52 years old in this thread, but keep in mind how you lift when you're younger can be diff than how you lift when you're older, & have more wear & tear on your joints, and maybe past injuries.

    You learn what exercises are best for you personally avoid, which for many includes things like OHP & dips. Of course, this isn't the same for everyone if at all.
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  8. #8
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    This 54 year old feeble little man does 2 sets of bench press on push day, and 3 sets of OHP on push day. I like to have that look that there are some grapefruits stuck under my shirt sleeves.
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    I personally like them a lot... Not particularly for the right reasons though. I've put quite a bit of effort into getting reasonably strong at this lift and therefore I can put up some decent numbers with pretty good form.

    Putting up good numbers in a commercial gym makes me happy and motivates me.

    As for the injury risk... I wasn't really aware of it and I don't see a tonne of people training them... For the most part, in the gyms which I frequent, it's pretty rare to see anyone press 135 or more
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  10. #10
    Unregistered User MyEgoProblem's Avatar
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    In training...
    Everything is cyclic, its all cycles in and out of favour for no real discernable reason.

    Westside?
    Hit?
    Bro split?
    Ohp?
    Mostly iso?
    Minimalist?
    Ect ect
    You see it all come back around every few years.
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  11. #11
    Formerly grouchyjarhead GrouchyUSMC's Avatar
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    Honestly putting weight overhead is one of my favorite things to do. I miss my strongman and Olympic weightlifting days. At one point, my jerk was more than my bench (but I always sucked at benching). I still do it nowadays, but since I'm a home gym guy now it's mostly with sandbags, kettlebells, and the like.

    In the Golden Age of bodybuilding, the press was important. Mobility for them is more important now than before, since we hunch over phones and desk and steering wheels a lot more. It doesn't take much though to get there if you want to get serious with them. Most guys who don't like overhead work either have mobility or strength issues that prevent them from getting the max benefit. Plus, it's harder to increase poundage and harder to cheat with than a bench press.

    Some of the (real) old time lifters had awesome shoulder development simply from just lots of overhead work. Want shoulders like George Hackenschmidt? Lift 276 overhead with one hand. This was probably taken around 1900.

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  12. #12
    temporary illusion supramax's Avatar
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    I've done every kind of OHP and my top choice is the muscle snatch, also know as the continuous clean and press. I suggest progressively adding more weight for each set until you fail at the press phase. Then it becomes a power clean and push press. There's a third phase that happens when the weight gets too heavy to clean. That's when it turns into a high pull. Absolutely ****ing badass phenomenal exercise progression that has no equal!
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    Kiwi Battler BenMcLeodNZ's Avatar
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    The O stands for over-rated
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    Originally Posted by BenMcLeodNZ View Post
    The O stands for over-rated
    Well, if I had to pick between the ohp, bench presses and dips, it would be dips every time, but the continuous clean and press progression is so good, I give it its own category.
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    Registered User GeneralSerpant's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by BenMcLeodNZ View Post
    The O stands for over-rated
    Ahaha the overrated head press.

    Anyways who doesn't do it anymore?

    I agree with everything Suffolk said about it.
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    Registered User BeginnerGainz's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by GeneralSerpant View Post
    Ahaha the overrated head press.

    Anyways who doesn't do it anymore?

    I agree with everything Suffolk said about it.
    I don’t.
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    Originally Posted by EliKoehn View Post
    In the ever-oscillating ebb and flow of lifting trends, the popularity of certain exercises and practices waxes and wanes routinely, and this neither surprises nor bothers me. However, I'm not able to get an obvious read on that as it pertains to the OHP.

    To those of you who have been involved with or following lifting and bodybuilding for decades, I'd be curious to know what your impression is as to how this has changed over time? Apparently, back in the days of Reg Park and (yes) Vince Gironda, the overhead press was actually the primary metric of upper body strength, and was a more meaningful stat than the bench press.

    In my own experience in the gym, I see more people performing them than I ever have before, but also have been reading more negative commentary about the exercise overall than I recall previously being privy to. That said, I'm not on Instagram, stopped reading T-Nation years ago, and am only passingly on YouTube fitness, and so am likely missing plenty of mainstream influence, unless it's also reflected here.

    I like them conceptually, since achieving a high number with them really is hard to do and testifies to a lot of legitimate strength. That said, they're risky injury wise and might overlap too much with other stuff outside of specializing for them, for hypertrophy and other recovery purposes.

    So (particularly to those who have been around a while), what kind of reputation do you think they have, and do you think as an exercise it's gaining or losing in perceived importance?
    IMO I think it’s gone down in popularity. Every YouTuber and influencer goes on and on about how if you’re doing the bench press your anterior deltoids are getting more than enough work/volume so doing OHP is overkill.

    Which in a way could be true but by doing so you’re truly denying yourself major gains in your shoulders and core strength in balancing heavy weight overhead
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  18. #18
    Registered User GeneralSerpant's Avatar
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    It's probably a bit more popular than properly taking up shoulder isolations because it's a very straightforward exercise that novices can jump into. There's also nothing really popular for rear and side delts in comparison.

    If hypertrophy in general is a concern then you'll probably get a big dropoff in OHP goers just because 70% of people will use bench press for chest hypertrophy. If someone cares about shoulders in that case then it's a lot easier to take up isolations.

    People concerned with the specific sport of weightlifting will undoubtedly have common practice with it in developing general pressing strength.

    Originally Posted by BeginnerGainz View Post
    I don’t.
    And that is what this thread is about?
    Last edited by GeneralSerpant; 01-24-2022 at 01:01 PM.
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  19. #19
    Formerly grouchyjarhead GrouchyUSMC's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by GeneralSerpant View Post
    It's probably a bit more popular than properly taking up shoulder isolations because it's a very straightforward exercise that novices can jump into. There's also nothing really popular for rear and side delts in comparison.

    If hypertrophy in general is a concern then you'll probably get a big dropoff in OHP goers just because 70% of people will use bench press for chest hypertrophy. If someone cares about shoulders in that case then it's a lot easier to take up isolations.

    People concerned with the specific sport of weightlifting will undoubtedly have common practice with it in developing general pressing strength.
    Many of the best powerlifters also have some impressive press poundages, it's one of the best accessories for a big bench.

    Most guys bench too often and don't do any shoulder mobility work which is why they suck at it. Isolations only are more popular nowadays because guys don't like the hit to their egos that they're weak at it (when most times it's more of a mobility issue than a strength issue if you're already a strong dude).
    Last edited by GrouchyUSMC; 01-27-2022 at 08:07 PM.
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    Registered User EliKoehn's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by GrouchyUSMC View Post
    Many of the best powerlifters also have some impressive press poundages, it's one of the best accessories for a big bench.

    Most guys bench too often and don't do any shoulder mobility work which is why they suck at it. Isolations only are more popular nowadays because guys don't like the hit to their egos that they're weak at it (when most times it's more of a mobility issue than a strength issue if you're already a strong dude).
    As far as shoulder isolations go, what would you say to that as far is it pertains to an even development for each deltoid head? I perform lateral raises more often than I overhead press, but it's because I also bench frequently and am concerned that the OHP would overemphasize the anterior head, which already gets a lot of work from horizontal presses.

    Generally, I favor compound work over isolation, but the medial delt is an example where it seems not to be evenly and adequately worked in lieu of isolation, however.
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    Registered User GeneralSerpant's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by GrouchyUSMC View Post
    Many of the best powerlifters also have some impressive press poundages, it's one of the best accessories for a big bench.

    Most guys bench too often and don't do any shoulder mobility work which is why they suck at it. Isolations only are more popular nowadays because guys don't like the hit to their egos that they're weak at it (when most times it's more of a mobility issue than a strength issue if you're already a strong dude).
    It seems to be a road less traveled.
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    Formerly grouchyjarhead GrouchyUSMC's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by EliKoehn View Post
    As far as shoulder isolations go, what would you say to that as far is it pertains to an even development for each deltoid head? I perform lateral raises more often than I overhead press, but it's because I also bench frequently and am concerned that the OHP would overemphasize the anterior head, which already gets a lot of work from horizontal presses.

    Generally, I favor compound work over isolation, but the medial delt is an example where it seems not to be evenly and adequately worked in lieu of isolation, however.
    I'm not the best person to ask about this in particular, as I am more concerned about strength and performance than aesthetics.

    I will say most Olympic lifters get excellent shoulder development just from working different variations of the press and jerk with a barbell, as well as lots of pulling movements.

    Doing a drop set or two of Bradford presses after your regular presses probably would help a lot in that area though.
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    CEO 10k/year Ironface's Avatar
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    The OHP fell out of popularity when it was removed from weightlifting in the 1972 Olympics. This is because, due to the nature of the lift, it became difficult to judge and opened the door for political bias in judging successful lifts.

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the OHP is one of the most badass and effective exercises you can perform. Builds delts, traps, triceps long head, lats, abs, upper chest. It’s just a super efficient use of your time
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    Moderator SuffolkPunch's Avatar
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    I like strongman overheads... no real rules, just get it up there. What always amazes me is the really big guys like Eddie Hall or Iron Biby seem to use hardly any leg drive. Comes from having delts the size of most mens quads I guess.
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