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  1. #1
    Registered User aspalmat's Avatar
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    Overhead Press Safety

    Curious as to what people do for safety while overhead pressing? I have a power rack with safety bars for squats, bench press etc., and I always use them.

    I've been doing Overhead presses out side the rack, and started to think as the weights get heavier, this is a safety issue. If I get the weight up, and lose control, it's going all the way to the ground, and that's not a good outcome for me or the equipment. I've tried pressing inside the rack, but I can't fully extend the bar, as it hits the top rails of the rack.

    What do people do to make the overhead press safe to do at home, and by yourself?

    Thanks.
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  2. #2
    heavily caffeinated grapegorilla's Avatar
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    For me, if it's going to fail it's apparent coming off of the start. I just reset and rack. My rack is set tall enough that I can press inside, but I think bailing at the top of a press inside the rack is not going to end well. Maybe pin presses are the way to go (https://youtu.be/0VNqwFAx1EA). For the shorter rack you could maybe mix the pin approach from a seated position.
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  3. #3
    Registered User aspalmat's Avatar
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    Thanks. I saw in that video, the guy was pressing off of spotter arms/safety pins. That seems like a reasonable solution. I think as much as just failing on the lift, I'm concerned about getting the weight up, and loosing balance, especially rearward, as you extend your arms, and it coming crashing down. The spotter arms/pins seems like the solution.
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    Registered User air2fakie's Avatar
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    Get some bumper plates and drop them like you're in the Olympics.
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    Registered User C123C's Avatar
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    Per above, bumpers work fine. Generally controlled pressing overhead isn't going to blow out your balance or structural/static strength. Smaller muscles in the concentric movement fail first allowing you to somewhat easily lower the weight to the start position under control. Either rerack into J Cups or onto spotters set below your position. Simple.

    Not being disrespectful but a question like this generally comes from someone without much lifting experience - which is a great thing BTW as we all love this and started somewhere. This is sub-forum is basically a population of people who love it so much they've setup their own, often elaborate, home gyms and spend time conversing with others on equipment and minutia. The safety issue you raise in this case isn't much of an issue at all in practice. I'd read up a bit on technique and train with very manageable weights before you really start pushing your limits (strong athletic base, good even unrack with consistent and checked hand spacing on bar, good start position and smooth reps, controlled rerack to the back of the j cups and then down). I think Starting Strength is a pretty good technique guide and includes the standing overhead press. Maybe give it a read along with other lifts.
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    Registered User aspalmat's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by C123C View Post
    Per above, bumpers work fine. Generally controlled pressing overhead isn't going to blow out your balance or structural/static strength. Smaller muscles in the concentric movement fail first allowing you to somewhat easily lower the weight to the start position under control. Either rerack into J Cups or onto spotters set below your position. Simple.

    Not being disrespectful but a question like this generally comes from someone without much lifting experience - which is a great thing BTW as we all love this and started somewhere. This is sub-forum is basically a population of people who love it so much they've setup their own, often elaborate, home gyms and spend time conversing with others on equipment and minutia. The safety issue you raise in this case isn't much of an issue at all in practice. I'd read up a bit on technique and train with very manageable weights before you really start pushing your limits (strong athletic base, good even unrack with consistent and checked hand spacing on bar, good start position and smooth reps, controlled rerack to the back of the j cups and then down). I think Starting Strength is a pretty good technique guide and includes the standing overhead press. Maybe give it a read along with other lifts.
    No disrespect taken. You are correct, I’m new to lifting, inexperienced and trying to learn. Thanks for the feedback.
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  7. #7
    Registered User Greybird2's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by air2fakie View Post
    Get some bumper plates and drop them like you're in the Olympics.
    That's what I do. Recent addition actually.
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    Registered User Murser's Avatar
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    Seated OHP. Set the safeties at your starting level, and start the press from the bottom.
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    Registered User aspalmat's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Murser View Post
    Seated OHP. Set the safeties at your starting level, and start the press from the bottom.
    Thanks, I had not considered that option.
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  10. #10
    Moderator SuffolkPunch's Avatar
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    I have always taken the barbell off the floor and cleaned it to starting position. My argument is that your clean should way exceed your strict press - if not your posterior chain needs work.

    I'm so accustomed to it that I actually feel weaker pressing if I take the bar from a rack.
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    Multi-Platinum User radrd's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by SuffolkPunch View Post
    I have always taken the barbell off the floor and cleaned it to starting position. My argument is that your clean should way exceed your strict press - if not your posterior chain needs work.

    I'm so accustomed to it that I actually feel weaker pressing if I take the bar from a rack.
    I read before on this forum that people tend to OHP heavier weight when they clean it first. Can't remember if anyone knew the reason why. Maybe it puts you in a more braced/athletic starting position for more muscle recruitment? Maybe it's not even true. I'm finally past some nagging shoulder issues and just happy to OHP from the rack right now.
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  12. #12
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    Respect to OP for posing the question, but with practical experience; this becomes a non-issue. I tend to set my rack j cups to the outside of rack position and press outside the rack with no safeties when using a barbell. A failed supine bench press can choke you to death or crush your face, I don't think you'll fail an overhead press this catastrophically.

    Nowadays I rarely barbell press as it poses such an increase incidence of "pinched nerve" in my lower neck. I just use dumbbells and don't have to alter my head and shoulder position overhead to clear my chin or nose. If I fail a lift I let the weights fall in a controlled manner back to the shoulder/racked position. This is just a non-issue really OP.

    As an equipment slut buying more equipment like bumpers does work, and all the info on cleaning bar into position by previous posters is sage wisdom.
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    Registered User rpark's Avatar
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    Use dumbbells.... virtually no risk.... you know as soon as you start whether you can do it or not.
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    Han shot first! TolerantLactose's Avatar
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    I don't think I've ever seen a catastrophic failed rep. Your OHP weight should be far less than what you can handle in a front rack position.
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    Originally Posted by aspalmat View Post
    Thanks. I saw in that video, the guy was pressing off of spotter arms/safety pins. That seems like a reasonable solution. I think as much as just failing on the lift, I'm concerned about getting the weight up, and loosing balance, especially rearward, as you extend your arms, and it coming crashing down. The spotter arms/pins seems like the solution.
    This is about all you can do. Set the safeties about 2" below shoulder level, stand up into the bar, and when you're done, just bend your knees to set it down.

    However, it's extremely rare to miss an overhead press like this. A push-press, yes, because you're using your legs to push more weight than your arms can handle. But with an actual press, if it's heavy enough to cause you trouble overhead, it isn't gettjng off your chest.
    I'm a weightlifter, just starting to add some bodybuilding into my training. I'm mostly here for the equipment forum.
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