Another great fundamental exercise to incorporate into your workouts is the strict press. This exercise works to increase the strength in your shoulder, lat, and abdominal muscles and allows you to hold something above your head safely. The strict press relies primarily on the strength of the upper body – no movement occurs in the lower body to assist the movement. However, tension is built throughout the upper body and core to assist in the movement.
Key points: The strict press teaches you how to safely press a weight above the head while keeping the spine protected and working to engage the correct muscles. For the purposes of this explanation, I will be discussing a strict press with a kettlebell. Start with the kettlebell in the rack position (click here for a great kettlebell rack explanation) with your feet firmly planted, the weight of your body directly over the midline of your feet, and your glutes and abdominal muscles on and engaged. Exhale as you press the kettlebell straight up above your head. Your arm should move in one straight line, not in a “rolling motion” as sometimes seen with dumbbells. At the top position, your teap muscle should be pulled down away from the ear and should be relaxed, your lat muscle should be engaged and activated, your abdominal and glute muscles should be engaged, and your bicep should be in line with your ear. Inhale, then exhale as you bring the kettlebell back down to the rack position to complete the movement.
Breathing: Just before you press the kettlebell above your head, inhale, then exhale as you press the kettlebell up to the full lockout position. Inhale, then bring the kettlebell down, finishing with an exhale as the kettlebell returns to the rack position.
Muscles engaged: Since you aren’t using any power from the lower body to execute the movement, you will have to engage the abdominal muscles, the lat muscles, and stabilize the shoulder in order to safely complete the movement. In the lockout position, you should also have your glute muscles engaged and actived to help keep you in a straight, upright position and to keep your hips from shifting.
Here’s a video demonstrating the strict press!
Try the strict press out in order to help increase your overall upper body strength and stability!