Training for the Press
by Paul Anderson
When training for any particular lift, it is my opinion that the best exercise is the lift itself. The press being no exception, if the lifter would like to make gains he should do a great deal of pressing. While concentrating the attention on one lift it always seems to raise a problem. This problem, as we all know, is going stale. That is, betting to the point where we can’t go forward, and sometimes losing some of the strength we have gained through the hard work we have put into our effort in a particular lift.
At this point the fact has accepted, by most experienced people in our field, that an assistance exercise is in order. Of course, an assistance exercise is one that exercises the same muscles as the lift that we are striving to develop.
In the case of the press there are several of these assistance or helping exercises that I have used to great advantage. As I tell them to you I will not go into detail of how I have used them in sets and reps because it is my opinion that reps and sets are up to the lifter.
When I first started training for the press I did nothing but press. For quite a while I made great gains. Then my strength began to start coming slow and finally stopped completely. As always in my training, I had no one to tell me what move to make. I did realize, though, that I should have some kind of a change in my training routine. I then turned to the exercise I believed to be closely related to the press, the bench press. By doing the bench press with the same grip I used on the regular press, I started to make gains again. By putting the two exercises together in reps and sets I had worked out a very good routine for the press. In doing this I continued to make great strides, and thought I had found the answer to developing a great press.
History, having a habit of repeating itself, was no exception in my case. After training with my newly found routine for about a month, I again started feeling the same old staleness as before. This second slowing down period, although not as severe as the first, proved to me that I needed more assistance exercises.
The second of these exercises I selected to help my press was the one hand dumbell press. I selected this lift because it gave me a chance to handle a maximum poundage on the muscles that do the pressing. As we all know, one can handle more weight with one hand he can handle accordingly with two. The one hand dumbell press was just as effective as the bench press in helping me advance in strength.
With two assistance movements along with the regular press it took even longer for the slow down, so I started searching for more movements to help me improve my press.
For my third helping exercise I adopted the push press. The push press is almost the same movement as the press and it also enables the lifter to get accustomed to the feel of a heavier weight on the chest and overhead.
By now I had not only discovered the importance of more than one exercise to advance in a lift, but also found the great value of getting the greater amount of blood into the muscles that I was trying to develop. Armed with this valuable knowledge I started seeking an exercise to get the maximum amount of blood into the pressing muscles. Through common horse sense I knew the best way to do this was in an upside down position. The first movement I used was the handstand press which did not quite do the job. Carrying out the same idea, I developed an apparatus that proved to be the greatest assistance exercise I have ever used for the press.
This apparatus is very simple. It is made of two bicycle wheels connected by a three foot axle. This axle is covered by a small, float platform about 2 ½ ft. by 3 ft. The way I use this machine is to put my feet and lower legs on the platform and pull it along by walking on my hands. By using this I can stay in the position as long as I want to, getting an abundance of blood into the pressing muscles as well as receiving the benefits of the exercise.
With these strengthening movements I have surpassed all pressed records and have bench pressed 600 pounds.