• Nate Johnson

Common Mistakes With the Press

What are the common faults in the Press?


Not Squeezing Your Thighs, Abs, and Glutes in the Starting Position:

Squeezing your thighs, abs, and glutes keeps your strong and stable. It provides a firm foundation from which to Press. You will be weaker and more prone to getting hurt if you don’t engage these muscles.




Not Arching the Upper Back:


Arching the upper back puts the shoulders in a safer and stronger position. This arch opens up the shoulder joint which is a good thing!


This is the opposite movement of what most of us spend our days doing…hunched over our phones and computer screens with a rounded upper back.


Most of the time you can correct this by just thinking about arching your upper back and stick your chest out while demonstrating the arch.


If this doesn’t work, you are probably tight (which is very common.) Stretch your pecs- 30 seconds per side. Then lie on the Foam Roller on your T-Spine for 30 seconds.


Try the Press again. 90% of the time these 2 mobility exercises will fix your lack of arch. If it doesn’t, you need to do Push-Ups instead of the Press while also doing Pec Stretches and Lying on you T-Spine on the foam roller every day until you have the mobility to Press.




Not Driving the Elbows Up and In:


In the starting position, the elbows should always be slightly in front of the bar. Elbows “dumping” backwards and being flared out are extremely common in both the setup and during the movement.


All issues with the Press will come down to either:


1. Cueing. Just think about driving your elbows up and in.

2. Lack of Mobility. With the Press the solution is almost always to stretch the pecs and lie on the foam roller on the t-spine.




Not Tucking the Chin:


Not tucking the chin is a great way to hit your chin with the barbell lol. Just tuck your dang chin!!




Wearing a forward facing hat:

This is literally the only movement where wearing a hat is problematic. At least not a forward facing hat. The bill gets in the way.


If you do the Press correctly with a hat on, you'll knock the hat off by hitting the bill. If you press the bar around the hat, you're doing it incorrectly. Neither is good.


Take it off during the lift or turn it around backwards. Plus, backwards hats are still cool. Especially flat billed hats. But hey, this isn’t a fashion post. It’s a training post. Let’s get back to it.




Elbows Flaring Out Too Early:


The elbows should always start slightly in front of the bar. And during the Press the elbows should always be directly under the bar. The elbows should NEVER be behind the bar. This puts the shoulder in a HORRIBLE position.


This is an injury waiting to happen.


1. Think about keeping your elbows tucked in while you press

2. If that doesn’t work, do the 2 mobility exercises mentioned above.




Finishing With the Bar Too Far Forward:


When you are really tight, you can’t push the bar back over your head properly. This leads to lots of unnecessary strain on the shoulders. First try thinking about pushing the bar back once the barbell passes the height of your forehead. If that doesn’t work do the 2 mobility exercises mentioned before. If that doesn’t fix it, you need to do push-ups instead. Also do the 2 mobility exercises above daily until you have the mobility to do the Press.




Finishing With the Bar Too Far Back:


This is when the bar, wrist, elbow, and shoulder are actually behind the ear! Although less common, it does happen If you are very mobile and/or who press their head too far forward at the top of the press.


This is 100% a cueing issue. Think about pressing the bar too far back or if you're pushing your head too far forward.


If you're pushing the bar too far back, stop pressing it so far back. If you're pushing your head too far forward, stop pushing your head so far forward.


Seriously, that’s it!


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