F.I.T. Blog

Plank Your Overhead Press

Everyone knows what a plank looks like;
Most people understand how to do one well;
Some people can actually do one well;
Few people understand how to plank when they press overhead.

It’s interesting to see people and the ways they try to press a weight overhead. You will see leaning one way and then another, you will see full on back arch to incline press the weight up and you will see those with extra good mobility drive the back through so hard the bar ends up behind their heels when it’s finally overhead.

And at various times, all those presses will get a, “good rep,” from their coach.

However, when someone planks, there are 5 adjustments a coach makes to perfect the plank and get it just right. So if the position creates optimal tension to hold the body off the ground, why shouldn’t the same principles apply to push and then stabilize a bar overhead.

That’s the discussion today. What do you carry over from a plank to an overhead press

Let’s start at the ground and work our way up:

Feet

Plank: dig the toes into the ground and push up to create tension through the lower half
Press: dig the toes into the ground, torque through the floor to create tension through the lower half

Hips/Legs

Plank: squeeze the butt and lock the quads out to get as much activity from the legs as possible
Press: squeeze the butt and lock the quads out to get as much activity from the legs as possible ie. DITTO

Trunk

Plank: Brace the abs and obliques to lock the ribs down and create tension toward the midline
Press: Brace the abs and obliques to lock the ribs down and create tension toward the midline ie. DITTO

Shoulders

Plank: Tear the ground underneath the elbows apart, fighting against the tension created in the trunk
Press: Create tension in the chest and shoulders to support the weight and fight against trunk tension to create a solid initial drive off the shoulders.

So basically, the position (prone versus standing) changes the foot engagement with the floor, otherwise there isn’t a lot of difference between a plank and a great set up for the press. Of course, with the overhead press, you still have to move weight 😉

So, if you struggle to activate all those different areas at the same time, no problem, we’ve got you!

The band overhead press is a great variation to teach you how to create reflexive stability throughout the movement because you are required to push down into the band as you press it upwards. If you don’t, the band will make you collapse like an accordion!

All the cues from above apply to the band press. The biggest difference between a band overhead press and a weighted overhead press (kettlebell, dumbbell, barbell) is that you can stretch the band slightly at the top to feel the chest and shoulders activate more. And you need to control the descent of the band because it is doing everything it can to snap back to it’s normal length!

The band overhead press is so hot right now, you have to try it!

But seriously, explore the movement for a while and then go back to your favorite overhead pressing variation and see if you feel stronger and more stable getting the weight overhead!

Coach Jared