Overhead Press Variations

An anatomical drawing of the muscles worked when performing an overhead or military press.

I’ll be honest, I don’t often design programs with Overhead Press variations in them. My main argument against it is they place a lot of stress on an area that tends to be in chronic pain in wrestlers- the shoulders.

I can’t remember the last wrestler I worked with who didn’t have shoulder discomfort at some point.

However, if your shoulders are pain free and you don’t experience agitation when pressing overhead, these variations are great.

First, here’s the basic barbell Overhead Press.

And here’s the dumbbell version.

I know a lot of people may have an issue with the full range of motion, but I’ve always been a proponent of training the movement as fully as possible.

And, in the case of wrestlers, it makes sense, right?

Think of how many awkward positions you get into during a competitive match.

You’re joints are regularly at the end range of motion.

So, in my humble opinion, preparation through appropriate strengthening is something worth investing your time and effort into.

Alright, now that the two classic variations have been shown above, here are a couple alternatives you may want to consider.

First, is the Single Arm Overhead Press.

If you’re new to pressing overhead, I suggest you start with this exercise. I like it because it frees up your other hand which can catch a missed lift and return it safely to the ground.

In general, anything you can do to reduce the risk of injury when lifting is probably in your best interest.

The second variation is one I learned from an old gym member, Dr. Mike.

Dr. Mike learned this while training with an Olympic Champion in the Discus. It’s a great way to balance out any asymmetries that may exist between arms. It’s also fantastic at developing low end/starting strength (it trains your body to become better at producing force from the start).

A picture of Kyle Dake and Dickie White.
Hi, I’m Dickie (the author of this blog). Here I am with my good buddy, Kyle Dake. While he doesn't have a nice coat like me, he is pretty good at wrestling. Here's what he said about my training system:

Before I began lifting using Dickie's system my wrestling skills were getting slightly better. I've now been lifting under his guidance for more than 5 months and I have begun to dominating ALL of my competition. At first I had little faith in Dickie and his program, but now I would run into a wall if he told me I would get stronger! I know it sounds insane, but I would. The bottom line is Dickie is an expert and knows what he is talking about. If you want to defeat those kids whom you've always lost to and reach a level you never thought possible, I suggest you start lifting using Dickie's system immediately.

-Kyle Dake, 4X NCAA Division 1 National Champion

Want to see what other wrestlers are saying about my training system? Check out my Success Stories page.


Want to learn more about Dickie? Check out my About page.


Want to get started on a program today? Read this post and download your free program- 12 Week Training Program For Wrestlers.


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