Boulder Shoulders Part 3: Peaking – Galway Strength and Performance


Boulder Shoulders Part 3: Peaking

How we build and peak the overhead press in comp prep

As the old saying goes there are many ways to skin a cat just like there are many different methods of building the overhead press. Below im going to outline how we do it for the most part here in Galway Strength and Performance and with most of our online clients in a 10 week training cycle. For simplicity well say this is a programme in prep for a max overhead press.

Week 1-4

In the phase of training we will put an emphasis on regaining and practising technique with the overhead movements that are coming up in the competition and building muscle in our weaker areas. It usually consists of two pressing day one being a push day, the other being a strict pressing day which could be seated, standing, barbell, dumbbells or even a bench variation as the main movement, its all depending on the person and what they need.

  • Our push day usually consists of multiple sets of 1-3 reps to re-enforce technique with strongman implements, followed by another press variation(3-5 sets of 5-6 reps) and tons of accessories to build our delts, pecs, upper back and arms (3-5 sets of 8-15 reps)
  • Our strict day would usually be focused heavily on weak-points and building them with tons of volume using anything from 3-5 sets and 6-10 reps, our main movement is often followed by dumbbell pressing (3-5 sets of 8-12 reps) and tons of accessories in a similar order as the push day.
Week 5-7

In this phase we will reduce our overall volume and still stick with the 2 days that we were already doing but we start doing 2 push press days and put a little less emphasis on strict pressing.

  • The first press day will be similar to the first block of training. We will still be putting an emphasis on practising our technique with our strongman implement but we will be reducing the reps and sets that were doing to allow us to increase the weight were going to be using on a regular basis as we begin to peak our strength. This is usually followed by some kind of strict overhead pressing (3-5 sets of 4-8 reps) followed by a bunch of accessories (3-5 sets of 8-15 reps)
  • The second press day will again be a push press day but with a barbell or another strongman implement that your not using on the first day, again using multiple sets of 1-3 reps but lighter than the first day. This is followed by a press variation that is needed, often times we use close grip bench, board presses or slingshots to overload our triceps (3-4 sets of 2-5 reps) followed by some form of dumbbell pressing (3-4 sets of 8-10 reps) and some accessories ( 3 sets of 8-10 reps)

Some of you may wonder why we are doing push variations of a lift that’s not listed as a comp event on our second press day? Well it can happen and I’ve seen it happen alot where a promoter changes an event in the lead up to the competition or you arrive at the competition to be told that an event has changed, its not ideal but it can happen so we like to be ready for it by training many different implements in the lead up to the competition. A good strongman should be able for anything that’s thrown his or her way!

week 8-10

This being the final phase of training with just 2 training weeks and a deload week on week 10 we get very specific, dropping all press variation that is not overhead and only using the competition implement for our push exercise in hopes that events dont change now, but even if they do change it wont be that long after using other implements and we will still be technically proficient in them.

  • At this stage we put alot of emphasis on practising heavy single but never maxing until comp day. Sticking with 2 press days as usual. Ill break it down week by week
  • Week 8 – Day 1 we work up to 85-90% 4×1, followed by some strict overhead pressing (3×3), shoulder dumbell presing (3×10), Upper back and rear delt (4×10 each). Day 2- Work upto 80% 3×3 followed by some accessories delts and arms (3×10 each)
  • Week 9 – Day 1 we work up to 95% x 1, 1-3rm strict overhead press, upper back and rear delts (3×10 each). Day 2- Work up to 80% x 1, no accessories
  • Week 10 – Monday and Tuesday strict press 30% 3×8 to help recovery, after that just do a little mobility, rest and hit some pb’s on comp day 🙂

I hope this gives you guys a better idea of how we peak our overhead press and it can help you out with your training.

If you have any follow on questions please feel free to send us a message!

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