Monday, April 28, 2008

Press Assistance - Charles Smith

Bill Starr

Steve Merjanian and Lee Phillips

Pressing To Improve the Press? by Charles Smith

Dear Sir:

In your recent articles on the Two Hands Press, you said in one section that the only way to improve the press was to press. Yet a few paragraphs later, you mention several exercises that will, so you said, also improve the press. How do reconcile these two statements?


I cannot for the life of me understand why you fellows try to read different meanings into the words I write. I mean exactly what I said. The only way to improve the press is to press. This rule applies in any specialization program. The only way to improve the clean is to clean; and the squat, then squat; and so on. This is so obvious that it is no wonder why some people cannot see the woods for the trees. The actual practice of the lift in itself is sufficient to effect an improvement.

The muscles taking the weight overhead in the press are not confined to one or two groups. The trapezius, the serratus magnus, the triceps and deltoids all play their part in this strength test. To me it is plain that the stronger these muscle groups are individually, the stronger they will be collectively. While the practice of the press improves the press, there will come a time when the weakest of the muscles involved will hold back improvement simply because they will be unable to handle the weight that the other, stronger muscles can handle. Let me make myself clearer.

Let us suppose that an athlete is working on the press. He makes pretty good progress, but there comes a time when he finds that progress is becoming more and more difficult, and finally comes to a standstill. Now the athlete using his common sense doesn’t, like his less knowledgeable brother, start exercising more furiously, or using a million and one exercises. He analyzes the reason for his failure to progress. He might observe that he has difficulty in starting the weight away from the shoulders and in this instance will rightly conclude that his deltoids need a little extra work and specialization. He might find that he can get the weight away from the shoulders easily, but experiences a sticking point in the region of the forehead. Here is a need for more tricep strength, more side presses, and more specialization to improve elbow lock. The practice of the lifts which demand plenty of action from the triceps will help him greatly. The press on back, the press on box, the inclined press, the various dumbell presses, and the triceps press and its variants, will improve his triceps strength and development an elbow locking power. The various leverage movements such as the lateral raise standing, the holdout in front raised from elbow, the crucifix and the various dorsal bar exercises are splendid for strengthening the deltoids and serratus magnus.

Let me repeat again and emphasize that the only way to improve your press is to press. All other movements are merely assistance movements and aids to improvement.

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