Monday, July 5, 2010

Pressing Matters, Part II: Dan John's Overhead Press Template (for Gals especially) for a Bigger Press

Last week, in Part I of Pressing Matters, we had an interview with Dan John about the Overhead Press (and related). This week, since Dan's said i can share the pressing template he gave me with y'all,  that's what's presented below. By way of context, Dan John is a champion athlete in numerous disciplines, coach and author of Never Let Go, and will be co-presenting a one-time-only workshop with Pavel Tsatsouline this Sept, founded on their forth-coming book. The workshop is  called Scientific Strength Secrets of Extreme Performance

Dan's growing intrigue with the role of the overhead press is well summed up from the interview here:
The overhead press would be along with the deadlift as the two most important lifts that most people should do. Yes, you should do a squatting movement every day, for the same reasons toss in a hinge, a walk, and joint mobility work, but for loading, you want the press (maybe even first and foremost in my thinking now) and the deadlift....If can overhead press it, you can bench it. The more you press overhead, the more stable you become overall. Also, for whatever reason, call it what you want, but pressing overhead seems to apply to sport and general badassary.
A focus of the interview was the issue of women working to put up heavier presses - and heavier kb's in particular. I own it: i'm struggling to get from the 20 to the 24kg - which largely motivated these questions.

In the interview, Dan said that his training for women does not change much from what he does with guys. But he does say that "women should press probably every day, doing something in a pressing movement"

And so to that end:

Dan John's Pressing Template for Gals
to Increase Their Heavy (KB) Press

Rule One: Press daily.
Rule Two: Mix up the presses as much as possible.
Rule Three: Going heavy and getting scorched will not help you.

Typical week, add anything else you like on top of it:
Day One: One arm press ladders of 2-3-5, left right, for up to to ten sets (lots of volume, lots of time here, so cut back on everything else. I suggest going L 2, R 3, L 5, R 2, L 3, R 5, and just wave up. It is amazingly refreshing even though it is a ton of volume
Day Two: SeeSaw Press, a few sets, maybe walking SeeSaw Pressing as part of the warm up, nothing serious.
Day Three: Heavy work with one arm presses, several sets of 1-2, 1-2, 1-2, with near max weights. Clean the goal bell and hold the rack for about five sets of two at the end.
Day Four: SeeSaw Press and Windmills.
Aside, Here's how i do SeaSaw Press and Windmills as a workout, to which Dan commented:
"That combination is very interesting indeed. The upside of not giving someone every detail is that "what you think I said" and "what I meant" merge into a brilliant little workout like this.

I have this nagging feeling that some women are good at the Windmill for all the wrong reasons, so when you mix the presses with windmills you are forcing yourself to double up on the lockouts work and the tension work. I often have to have my female athletes do all their standing presses on one foot (doesn't matter how you do it) simply to teach tension (and, sadly but honestly, to get them to shut up. The social dimension is tough for me to deal with in the weightroom).

mc, that is a lot of volume. For most people, I would tell them to ratchet it in a little, but if you choose your bell wisely, that could really help you. "
Just FYI - i've been pretty loose on the sets for this one - playing around with 7-10 rather than always going for 100 WM reps - pending what else i'm doing. And if i'm concerned i'm not being sufficiently attentive, i do a fatigue check (described here) as a reality check.
Also Dan's notes on the role of the windmill in last week's interview: importantee.
Day Five: 1-2-3 ladders with a medium bell, like the Enter the Kettlebell Program. If you can do 1-2-3-4-5 great...but the work of the week has been put in.
Days Six and Seven: Either Rest or just work some tension stuff into your training.
Keep the workouts in this order in the week, but feel free to rest any day you like. I have always liked resting on Sunday and Thursday, so plug those days in there. (M-1, T-2, W-3, Th-Rest (Days six and seven), F-4, Sat-5 and Sun Rest or whatever (Days 6 and 7). Things always come up which is why I leave the open days open. You can lift five to 14 days in a row without taking a break, but it seems to hit you hard at Day 15.

Just an idea, keep the concept and tweak it, but this is the general outline...
Aside: A few notes from Dan's interview can blend into this mix as well, such as pressing on one foot.

Thank you, Dan John, for a groovy template. When i was tree planting up a clear cut in BC one summer, another plantar, joking through the fatigue said over lunch looking out over the sweeps of burns "To plant a tree, you must LOOOVE the tree." Likewise here, to press the kettle (as Jason Dolby's bud Milosh might say) you must love the kettle" And, for a gal, that means press it a little every day.

For me, coming back to this template from a shoulder tweak has been really interesting in terms of finding the right groove to make progress and not overdoing it, as i have been wont to do.

Models for me here are folks like Asha Wagner
(pictured left, with yours truly in the background) with her 24 pistol, pull up and press, who get great heavy results from volume+lighter loads.

If you do work with this protocol, please come on back and let me (and b2d readers) know how it goes.

Update July 20 - Here's some thoughts from Asha Wagner about part 1 and 2 of this coach john chat.

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