by Thom Van Vleck
I have written about the Press several times before. My Uncle Wayne Jackson loved doing the Olympic Clean and Press. As a matter of fact, when they dropped the lift Wayne never competed again in an Olympic lifting contest. He eventually did 370lbs out of the rack. I also saw him strict press 330lbs out of the rack.
So wait a minute, you say. I thought you said he pressed 370? Well, he did. Here’s the thing. The way I was taught there were three variations of the Press. This is not to be confused with the USAWA rules for pressing movements. I am listing these to make a point regarding training, not setting a record.
1. The Push Press. With the weight racked on the collar bone and you would then dip with knees and hips and then extend to drive the weight overhead while finishing pressing out with only the shoulders and arms with no recovery (rebending the knees or it was then a push jerk). A very quick movement that might slow down at the finish.
2. The Strict Press. You held the weight racked on the collar bone and with NO knee bend or drive with anything other than the shoulders and arms you would press the weight overhead. A very slow and methodical movement if you are using near max weights.
3. The Olympic Press. Similar to the Push press but with no knee bend. However, hip drive would be employed to get a “heave” off the chest after sinking with the weight once it was across the collar bone. Of course the reason the Olympic press was dropped was it started out as a strict press then the rules were relaxed to the point it became more of a push press and impossible to judge. My Uncle became so proficient at the sinking or “slumping” and the hip drive he actually could Olympic Press as much as he could Push Press!
Over the years I have used all three in my training. I think most people have used the Push press and the strict press but not many have used the Olympic Press. I would guess most would simply say that Olympic press was a cheating press or a poor push press and not see any additional value in the Olympic press.
It is my opinion that the Olympic press helps develop hip drive. It makes you really focus on engaging the hips and I think that’s really important not only in weightlifting but in many athletic events as well. Mastering that small range of motion can add to a power clean, to a fast baseball pitch, and maybe most importantly to throwing events such as the shot put, discus, highland games and others.
Be sure and focus on the hip drive! When I’m done training these I can really feel the fatigue in my hips. A “pro tip” from my Uncle Wayne was he said when he would get set to press he would focus on flexing his glutes hard.
Give it a try and see what you think. Let me know!