Master The Strict Press – Learn Proper Form, Benefits And Variations

Master The Strict Press – Learn Proper Form, Benefits And Variations

Are you tired of the same old lateral raises and looking for a new challenge? Look no further because the strict press is the exercise for you! Whether you’re into bodybuilding, powerlifting, endurance or just overall fitness, a set of strong shoulders is a must-have. But let’s be real, doing lateral raises till the cows come home won’t give you the results you’re looking for.

Overhead pressing movements, like the strict press, push press and push jerk, are the key to creating a great set of shoulders. The strict press, also known as the “shoulder press” or “military press”, is a pure demonstration of brute strength. It’s a highly challenging barbell movement that is not performed nearly enough. But just because it’s tough, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be doing it. In fact, that’s what makes it so effective.

This exercise is guaranteed to help you build strength, size, and explosiveness in your delts. In this article, we’re going to dive into everything you need to know about the strict press including proper form, benefits, muscles used, variations and common mistakes to avoid while doing this exercise.

So, grab your barbell and get ready to master the strict press! Don’t be afraid to push yourself and see the results for yourself. This exercise may be challenging, but that’s what makes it so worth it. Let’s get ready to pump up those shoulders and see the gains!

What Is The Strict Press?

The strict press is a favorite among many bodybuilders for its rep tempo and ability to fully break down the muscle through time under tension. But don’t let that fool you, it’s not just for the pros. This exercise is perfect for anyone looking to add some mass to their shoulders and improve their upper body pressing strength.

The strict press is a shoulder press done while standing with a barbell. The defining feature of this movement is that it’s done with strict form, which means no leg movement and no eccentric body movement. That’s right, no cheating allowed! This lack of movement makes the strict press extremely challenging, but it’s also what makes it so effective. It forces you to use only your delts and upper back to control the weight, making it a great exercise to work on correct shoulder mechanics.

Unlike the push press and push jerk, the strict press is a lot more controlled and can be performed with variations of grips to hit different parts of the deltoids. This makes it a versatile exercise that can be tailored to your specific needs. Plus, it’s not just a mass-builder, it’s also great for improving your overall upper body pressing strength.

How To Do The Strict Press

The strict press is a fantastic exercise to target your shoulders and upper body strength, but it’s important to make sure you’re performing the movement correctly to get the most out of it. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Start by setting up a barbell in a squat rack and take on a neutral grip in the front rack position. Your hands should be slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and your elbows should be pointing slightly forward.
  2. Before you begin, it’s important to retract your shoulder blades. This means squeezing them together and down towards your hips. This will engage your upper back and help you maintain good form throughout the exercise.
  3. Begin the movement by pressing the weight from in front of your head until your arms are fully straight at the top and behind your head. It’s important to keep your core tight and your back straight throughout the press.
  4. Slowly lower the weight back down and just touch your upper traps before beginning the next rep. It’s important to control the weight on the way down so that you’re focusing on the eccentric portion of the movement and not just relying on gravity to do the work for you.
  5. Repeat for the desired number of reps.

Remember, the key to performing the strict press correctly is to maintain strict form throughout the movement. Keep your core tight, your back straight and your shoulder blades retracted.

Muscles Used During The Strict Press

The strict press is a compound movement that targets the upper body pushing muscles, utilizing the entire body in the process. The deltoids, triceps, upper back, and core are all engaged to perform the movement correctly and safely.

The deltoids, which are made up of three heads, are responsible for flexing the shoulder and bringing the arm up during the press. The triceps, which are made up of three heads, are responsible for pushing the weight up at around the halfway point of the press and for the lockout at the top. The upper back, made up of muscles such as the rhomboids and trapezius, provides stability to the shoulder and scapula, which is the base of the press.

The core muscles, including the abdominals and lower back, provide a stable foundation for the press and help to prevent leaning back, which can lead to injury. Additionally, the strict press also hits the serratus anterior and upper chest muscles.

Benefits Of The Strict Press

Building Bigger Shoulders

The strict press is a great exercise for building bigger shoulders as it targets the deltoids and upper back muscles. By pressing the bar overhead, you are working to build rounder and stronger shoulders that not only look good but also function well. This exercise is more effective than shoulder and lat raises for building bigger shoulders.

Improving Core Strength

The strict press also helps to improve core strength. When lifting the bar overhead, your core must work to stabilize the weight and avoid excessive arching of the back. This constant engagement of the core muscles during the exercise helps to strengthen and develop the core.

Improving Bench Press Technique

The strict press can also help to improve bench press technique. Both the bench press and strict press work the triceps, deltoids, and chest, but in slightly different ways. By incorporating the strict press into your routine, you can develop better upper back strength and power that will transfer over to the bench press. This will help you with the eccentric portion of the bench press and improve your overall technique.

Improving Lockout during Lifts

The strict press can also help improve your lockout during other overhead lifts. This exercise helps to develop upper body explosive power, which will in turn help you to lockout other exercises that require an overhead position.

Building Tricep Strength

Finally, the strict press is also a great exercise for building tricep strength. The triceps are heavily engaged during the strict press, which will carry over to other exercises that require an overhead position.

The 3 Best Strict Press Alternatives

Master The Strict Press – Learn Proper Form, Benefits And Variations

When it comes to making consistent success in the gym, variety is really necessary. The following is a list of the most effective alternatives to the strict press that make use of a movement pattern and concept that are comparable. However, there is a slight distinction between them in order to introduce a fresh stimulus.

1. Dumbbell Shoulder Press

The dumbbell shoulder press is a variation of the strict press that allows for modifications to the grip. One of the benefits of this exercise is that it can alleviate shoulder pain by allowing for a slightly neutral grip (palms facing each other) which is more comfortable for some people.

Additionally, the dumbbell shoulder press increases the stability required in the shoulders compared to the traditional overhead press. This is because the dumbbells must overcome lateral forces when pressing the weight overhead, which requires the lifter to ensure the dumbbells do not fall sideways.

How To Do Dumbbell Shoulder Press

  1. Sit down on a bench with your back supported by the vertical backrest.
  2. Grasp a dumbbell in each hand, with the weights resting on your thighs.
  3. Use your legs to lift the dumbbells up to your chest level.
  4. Position the dumbbells just outside of your shoulders.
  5. Push the dumbbells upward towards the ceiling, straightening your arms and locking your elbows.
  6. Lower the weights back to the starting position just below your ears, and repeat the movement.

2. Z-press

The Z-press is a hard variation on the strict press. It was made and named after the legendary strongman Žydrūnas Savickas, also known as Big Z. Sitting on the floor with your legs stretched out in front of you, you can do this exercise. That means you won’t be able to use your legs to lift the weight. Instead, you’ll have to use your core to keep your lower back stable.

The Z-press can be done one arm at a time with a barbell, dumbbells, or kettlebells.

How To Do Z Press

Man demonstrating how to do Z Press exercise
  1. Start by adjusting the squat rack’s safety bars to be slightly below your front rack position for the barbell.
  2. Sit on the floor with your legs straight, maintaining an upright posture and pressing your heels firmly into the ground.
  3. Take hold of the barbell and position it securely in the front rack position, keeping your chest elevated.
  4. Brace your core, grip, glutes, and back while inhaling.
  5. Press the barbell upward, keeping your elbows close to your body as you do so.
  6. As the barbell passes your head, thrust your head forward through the space created by your arms.
  7. Extend your triceps and hold the barbell firmly overhead.
  8. Lower the barbell back to the starting position on your chest and shoulders in a controlled manner.
  9. Repeat the movement for the desired number of reps.

3. Handstand Push-Up 

The handstand push-up is a challenging bodyweight exercise that builds shoulder strength and stability, and can be used as a substitute for the strict press. It’s considered an advanced variation and is typically only attempted by individuals who have already mastered the basics of the overhead press and push press.

It’s commonly used in Crossfit and is a great option if you do not have access to weights, as it serves as a highly effective bodyweight alternative to the overhead press.

How To Do Handstand Push Up

Master The Strict Press – Learn Proper Form, Benefits And Variations
  1. Stand facing a wall, with your feet close to it.
  2. Use a kicking motion to propel yourself upward and into a handstand position against the wall.
  3. Once you are upside down, engage your core and glutes to maintain a stable position.
  4. Slowly lower yourself down towards the ground as far as possible.
  5. Push yourself back up to the starting position and repeat the movement for the desired number of reps.

Strict Press Common Mistakes

The strict press is a challenging exercise for many beginners, as it requires proper form and attention to detail to execute correctly. One common mistake is pressing the bar in front of the body, instead of directly over the spine. This can cause the athlete to lose balance and put unnecessary strain on the shoulders and back. To fix this, it is helpful to record the press from a side-view to see the bar’s trajectory and make sure it finishes overhead between the middle of the foot and heel. Poor mobility in the shoulders can also contribute to this mistake.

Another mistake is overarching the back, which is not beneficial for the strict press. This can cause back pain and should be avoided. To fix this, it is important to strengthen the core, release tight hip flexors, and improve shoulder mobility.

Using too much weight is another common mistake, as it can cause poor form and slow down the exercise. To fix this, the strict press should be thought of as a power move, and speed should be prioritized over heavy weight.

Finally, not using the full range of motion is a mistake that can prevent the exercise from being effective. To fix this, it is important to work on gaining more mobility through the shoulders. This will allow for proper execution of the exercise, with the arms locked out at the top and the barbell directly over the head, and the barbell coming all the way down to the top of the chest.

Difference Between Strict Press And Push Press

The strict barbell press and push press are both exercises that target the shoulders, but they have some key differences.

Strict Barbell Press: The strict press is a controlled movement that is performed with a slower rep tempo. It is designed to fully break down the muscle through time under tension. The strict press only uses the delts and upper back to control the weight up and down, not the rest of the body. It allows for variations of grips to hit different parts of the deltoids and allows the person to work on correct shoulder mechanics due to the controlled nature of the movement. It is considered as an overall mass-builder for the shoulders.

Push Press: The push press allows for the use of some lower body assistance. During the push press, you are allowed some slight leg drive to move the weight up and over your head. The grip is similar to strict press, but some people tend to use a slightly wider grip especially when going behind the head. Since the weight can go up on this movement, the shoulders will come less into play, and the hip/leg drive will make up more of this movement to assist with the momentum.

Take Away

The strict press is a challenging exercise that requires proper form to execute correctly. Common mistakes include pressing in front of the body, overarching the back, using too much weight, and not using full range of motion.

By being aware of these mistakes and implementing the suggested fixes such as recording your press from a side-view, strengthening your core, releasing tight hip flexors, improving shoulder mobility, thinking of the strict press as a power move, and focusing on full range of motion, you can improve your form and get the most out of the exercise. Remember to always prioritize form over weight and work within your limits to avoid injury.

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