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Stuck at 250 lbs Coach Joe Shatters Strict Press Plateau and Hits 315 lbs – Here’s How

 Written by 

Julien Raby

 Last updated on 

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If the strict press is your nemesis, you’re not alone. 

Coach Joe, a National Strongman Champion, faced a stubborn 250 lb strict press plateau. But he didn’t give up – his determination led to a remarkable 315 lb lift! 

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What changed? He fine-tuned his technique, altered his training, and the results were astounding. 

Discover the secrets behind his strict press breakthrough and learn how to apply them to your own training.

Identifying and Refining Technique: The First Leap

The strict press might appear straightforward, but its execution requires attention to a myriad of small yet crucial details.

Coach Joe, armed with a rich background in strength training, debunks the notion that pressing overhead is merely about lifting weights. It’s about optimizing every element of the movement to maximize efficiency and output.

Grip Positioning

The placement of hands on the bar can significantly influence the mechanics of the lift. A grip that’s too wide or too narrow can lead to suboptimal power transfer and increased risk of injury.

Similarly, the stance plays a pivotal role. A stable and appropriate stance provides the necessary foundation for a powerful press.

Breathing and bracing

Breathing and bracing are often overlooked, yet they are critical for core stability and force generation.

Proper technique involves deep inhales and tight core bracing before the lift, ensuring that the body functions as a cohesive unit. This approach not only enhances safety but also improves performance.

Bar path optimization

The most efficient path for the bar to travel is the shortest one—straight up. Any deviation can result in wasted energy and decreased effectiveness.

By refining these elements, Coach Joe was able to transform his pressing technique, turning a previously stagnant lift into a continuously improving strength segment.

Programming and Frequency Adjustments: Doubling the Opportunities

When progress stalls, a reassessment of training frequency can be the key to unlocking further gains. This was precisely the case for Coach Joe.

Previously limited to pressing once a week, he realized this schedule was inadequate for overcoming his plateau. By increasing his pressing frequency to twice per week, he created more opportunities for practice and growth.

The shoulder muscles, due to their smaller size and quicker recovery time compared to larger muscle groups like the legs or back, can handle frequent training sessions.

This biological advantage allowed Coach Joe to up the ante without overwhelming his body. Monday’s sessions would be complemented by another on Wednesday or Friday, keeping the muscles engaged and improving neural pathways critical for strength.

This change wasn’t just about adding more days; it was about smartly distributing the training load across the week to maintain intensity without causing fatigue.

For instance, if heavy pressing was done on Monday, a lighter, more technique-focused session might follow later in the week.

This strategy ensured that each session contributed positively to overall strength without detrimental overlap that could lead to overtraining.

Incorporating Variation and Offseason Planning: Long-Term Gains

Variation in training is crucial for continuous improvement, especially in a discipline as physically demanding and technically complex as strength training.

Coach Joe recognized the importance of diversifying his workout regimen to prevent plateaus and stimulate muscle growth from different angles.

By integrating various pressing movements into his routine, he was able to target different aspects of strength and expose any hidden weaknesses.

During a typical training week, Coach Joe might include several variations of the press: strict presses to hone technique and build raw strength, push presses to develop explosive power, and pin presses to improve strength at specific points of the movement.

Additionally, incorporating accessory movements like dumbbell presses or band presses helped to increase muscle endurance and stability, essential components for a strong overhead press.

But variation extends beyond weekly programming. Coach Joe’s offseason planning plays a pivotal role in his long-term development.

During these periods, the focus shifts from maximal strength to hypertrophy—increasing muscle size through higher repetitions and lower weights.

This not only aids in muscle recovery by reducing joint stress but also builds a larger muscular foundation that can later be converted into greater strength.

Results and Reflections

The strategic adjustments Coach Joe implemented in his training regimen culminated in significant achievements, the most notable being the increase from a 250 lb to a 315 lb strict press.

This progression wasn’t just a triumph of physical strength but also a reflection of a well-thought-out approach to training.

Through diligent practice and technical refinement, Coach Joe experienced firsthand the benefits of a disciplined and systematic approach to strength training.

Increasing the frequency of his workouts allowed him to perfect his technique more consistently and accumulate volume, both of which are critical for breaking through stubborn plateaus.

The introduction of varied exercises throughout his weekly routines ensured that his muscle adaptation continued unabated, preventing the stagnation commonly experienced by many athletes.

Moreover, the offseason periods focused on hypertrophy were instrumental. These phases allowed him to build a larger muscular base, which translated into greater potential strength gains during his peak training times.

This strategic cyclical approach between building muscle and maximizing strength showcases an essential principle in strength training: growth occurs during recovery and through varied stimuli.

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Julien Raby is the owner of BoxLife. He owns a bachelor in literature and a certificate in marketing from Concordia. He's Crossfit Level 1 certified and has been involved in Crossfit since 2010. In 2023 he finally made it to Crossfit Open Quarterfinals for the first time. LinkedIn Instagram Facebook

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