Read This If You Keep On Stalling For Your Overhead Press

June 24th 2019

How many times have you stalled on your overhead press? Once? Twice? Over five times? You are not alone. As lifters begin to dive deep into the great unknowns of strength training, one of the most popular lifts to begin stalling at is the overhead press. For the most part, many lifters have not lived in an environment that required them to exercise their overhead pressing strength. As a result, this is one lift that is underdeveloped. This is not a bad thing but it is not great as well.

You know that in order to continue getting stronger, you need to build and strengthen your overhead press. So, how can we continue to progress on a lift that is so difficult?

Why did I stall for my overhead press?

For beginner lifters, flexibility issues, lack of strength or linear progression stopping are some reasons why they are stalling for their overhead press.

Linear progression stopped

If you ran any linear progression program, like Greyskull LP or Starting Strength, the amount of weight you add on the bar each workout for your upper body lifts will seem unsustainable. For a lot of lifters, this quick progress is depleted rapidly and we are left with stalled lifts and broken dreams.

Flexibility issues

In order to generate the most power through your entire upper body, you will need to make sure your shoulder, thoracic, and scapula mobility is sufficient. You do not need to be hypermobile, which may actually be a detriment since you need to be able to control the overhead press in a particular manner.

You are just not strong enough

You simply need to train more, plain and simple. If you failed a weight multiple times after multiple deloads, that is the weight you should be at. If you are a beginner, there may be more solutions for you eradicate this overhead press issue. But overall, you are stuck at a weight because your body has not recovered enough in order to blast through the plateau.

How can I break my overhead press stall?

In order to break through their overhead press plateau, being patient, using microplates, and being obsessive about strength training are some ways the lifters in all different training experiences can break through their previous limits.


If you have not read my review about microplates, I highly encourage you to do so. Using microplates is one way I was able to personally break through multiple overhead press plateaus (4 overhead press plateaus) and was finally able to squeeze my way into the 135lbs overhead press club many years ago.

Now, do not get me wrong. The training was tough. I would be lying to you if I said that microloading your overhead press weight was a piece of cake. It was not. The weights kind of felt the same all the time but I was able to press the weight when I microloaded.

Sometimes, I would feel that it was all mental. However, the results speak for themselves and I was able to increase my overhead press to another level that I was not able to reach.

By the way, I got my set of microplates over 5 years ago and they are good to have when you need it. Highly effective but not absolutely required. The choice is yours to make. 

The race against time

Is it is that some people are able to put increase their overhead press by 100lbs in one year and you are stuck here trying to increase your overhead press by 5 lbs? 

The first error here is that you are comparing yourself to others. Depending on who you are, there will always be someone stronger than you. If you are an average athlete, there may be more lifters who are stronger than you. However, even the top athlete does not stay the strongest for an extended period of time. Sooner or later, there would be a new champion, whether you like it or not.

Where am I going with this? People often hate how slow they progress on their compound movements, especially the overhead press. However, if you are doing everything right inside the gym (hitting all your sets and reps), you should also focus on what you do outside of the gym. 

Are you getting enough sleep? How is your nutrition? How are your hormone levels? There are many layers of depth that lifters can analyze in order to optimize their performance. Making sure your life is perfect for lifting weights is something almost nobody wants to do. It is hard and it is difficult to maintain especially with a very weak social structure that does not promote resistance training. In the Western world, the government and large corporations are trying to control you and make you sicker and weaker. It is up to you to change and exit the matrix of their mind control. 

But if you do everything right, the rest is up to time. You need to wait for your body to recover so that you can handle another difficult training session. This allows you to continue the process or breaking down and rebuilding muscle.

How motivated are you?

The second factor for breaking through your overhead press stall is by sheer motivation - how badly do you want to be a better lifter? Are you willing to sacrifice friends? Are you willing to miss vacations, getaways, parties, etc. to achieve a stronger overhead press? Be honest here because you may say you want to be better in the gym but your actions and thoughts might reveal something else.

If you truly want to get stronger in the gym, you will be asking different questions and be doing different things. Making sure you get 9+hours of sleep each night while keeping stress low would be one of your highest priorities. 

Programming can be a factor

If you are a beginner, you will get stronger no matter what you do. While there are some programs that are better suited for a beginner’s experience level, gains will be made. 

It is the non-beginners, usually intermediate and early-advance athletes, that may run into a wall with their overhead press. There are many general strength training programs that do not place an emphasis on the overhead press, which can cause you to not train overhead press as hard.

For instance, if you are powerlifting, the overhead press will not be exercised as frequently, if ever, as the bench press. So, make sure that you are clear with your goals initially. Next, find a program that best suits your desires where you can see a direct correlation between the program and your goals wanted.


Stalling in the overhead press is common but it is your fault that you are stalling. In an ideal world, you should never stall. Stalling on a lift can be a combination of inadequate programming, poor recovery, lack of strength or a combination of the three. 

This is one reason why many experienced lifters advise newer lifters to not hire a coach and to learn how to program themselves. To understand strength training principles and to apply them in training is another beast within the fitness realm. So, you have your work cut out for you! 

Do not let this deter you from trying to unstuck your overhead press. Analyze why you are stuck, figure out a plan of attack to remedy the previous plan, and execute. After the execution, repeat these three steps. Lifters should be proactive about their training but there is a fine line between being obsessive and making changes too quickly versus getting stuck on a lift abruptly and you need to figure out your next plan.

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