Originally Published in This Issue (June 1972) and
COURTESY OF LIAM TWEED.
MASTERING THE PRESS
by A.K. Samusevich
translated from the Russian by Michael Sheen
In connection with the fact that the press is executed in two stages, the study of it begins with the first stage - the lifting of the bar to the chest. The correct positioning of the feet in the initial position and the start are studied first. At this point the most advantageous grip and hand spacing are determined, after which the pull with the final effort, the bringing (thrusting) of the arms under the grip, and the entry into the squat are studied.
Al parts of the technique of lifting the bar to the chest are studied as simple preliminary exercises, simultaneous with which the separate parts are made precise, the strength of the muscles and the mobility of the joints are developed, and the habits necessary for the lifting of the bar to the chest are formulated.
The preparatory and preliminary exercises for the lifting of the bar to the chest are studied in the following sequence:
1) The approach to the bar, the quick and correct positioning of the feet in the initial position.
2) The assumption of the starting position.
3) The lifting of the bar from the start position using the muscles which which straighten the knees and hip joints, with the arms in a straight position. The aim of this exercise is to teach the student to begin the lift with the most powerful muscle groups of the legs and trunk.
4) The lifting of the bar from the start to chest level with the subsequent rising on the toes and with the active work of the arms - the second pull. While studying this movement special attention must be paid to the correct trajectory of the movement of the bar upwards, strictly observing the sequence of inclusion into the work of the various muscle groups, the rhythm of the movements, and the position of the arms at the end of the pull (elbows must be above the grip). Upon catching the weight at a high stance it is necessary to maintain balance.
5) Bringing (thrusting) the arms under the bar. From the initial position upright, holding the bar with the arms straight downwards, the bar is raised through the effort of the arms to the upper chest, then, without stopping, in a circular movement of the elbows back-down-forward, the arms are thrust under the bar. By a sharp movement of the arms in reverse order, the bar is lowered to the initial position and the motion is repeated several times. The weight of the bar is 45-55 pounds.
6) The same as exercise 5, with the addition of a rise on the toes at the moment the bar is pulled to the upper part of the chest and lowering of the heels with a simultaneous thrusting under of the arms and with an amortizing bending of the legs at the knees. The weight of the bar is 55-65 pounds.
7) The same as exercises 5 and 6. The lifting of the bar to the chest with an insignificant squat in place. At the moment the arms are thrust under the bar and the heels lowered, the squat is done by bending of the legs at the knees and hips, after which it is necessary to straighten up and lower the bar. The weight of the bar is 65-80 pounds.
8) The lifting of the bar to the chest with a squat in place from the hang. The bar weighing 80-90 pounds is lifted from the starting position in the same manner as was recommended in exercise 3. Then it is lowered to the level of the bottom 1/3 of the thighs, or a little lower, by means of a slight bending of the legs at the knees and slightly more at the hips, leaning forward with a bend at the waist so that the shoulder joints are located over the grip, then, performing the second pull, bringing the bar to the chest in the same manner as exercise 7.
9) Lifting the bar to the chest from stands, with a squat in place.
10) Lifting the bar to the chest with a squat in place from the start on the instruction; moderately, quickly, with a slight squat, with a half squat, etc.
While studying the technique of lifting the bar to the chest with a squat in place, beginning with exercise 6, watch for a quick lowering of the heels, demanding an audible striking of the heels on the platform, and also for a coordination of effort and a quick thrusting of the arms under the grip. Progression may be made from one exercise to the next only when the one being studied has been learned in a basically correct manner.
The study of the technique of the press from the chest begins with the pressing of a light barbell in the simplest manner, then, according to the acquisition of habits and a sufficient amount of training in maintaining balance with the bar at arms' length, it is necessary to progress to the study of the press in a more correct manner, corresponding to the individual peculiarities of the athlete.
The methods of studying and perfecting the technique of the press from the chest comprise the fulfillment of a series of pressing exercises in the following sequence;
1) The press of the bar from the chest at a moderate tempo.
2) The same, behind the neck.
3) The same as 1 and 2, with a wide grip.
4) The press from the correct starting position at the chest with a grip that is more narrow, comfortable for the athlete, and optimal.
5) The same, with concentration on the push away from the chest.
6) Pressing the bar with optimal grip from high stands (forehead level). Paying attention to hte press-out and simultaneous positioning of the trunk beneath the bar.
7) The pressing of the bar from the chest with the optimal grip in combination with the thrust and press-out and the positioning of the body under the bar, in a moderate tempo.
8) The same as in 7, at the normal tempo for technique, with the emphasis on the basic phases of the press; by the judges signal, for a maximum, etc.
In training sessions for the development of the strength of the muscles of the arms and shoulder girdle, for the perfection of habits and other qualities which make possible the achievement of high results in the press, in addition to the exercises indicated, other exercises widely used are:
- straightening the arms with the bar behind the head
- seated press
- flat and incline bench pressing at various angles
- from stands at various heights and with various grips
- the push-press
- dips with weight added
- isometrics in the various press positions.