The Best Overhead Press Workout Plan for Stronger Shoulders

Most people in love with the barbell, still give up on the overhead press (also know as military press and standing barbell press), without ever giving a dedicated workout plan for stronger shoulders a shot.

It’s just too much hard work.

Lifting more weight in the squat, deadlift or even bench press is easy in comparison. Those lifts use bigger muscle groups, so it makes sense.

But have you considered this?

Increasing your deadlift PR from 200 to 202.5 kg, means you’ve raised it with 1.25 %.

Increasing your overhead press PR from 50 to 52.5 kg, means you’ve raised it with 5 %.

(And yes, it’s not unusual meeting people that can deadlift 200 kg but ”only” overhead press 50 kg.)

This is why so many give up on trying to press huge weights. The progression is too slow, compared with other big lifts.

Why bother?

Since you’re here, it’s evident you care. And that you’re looking for a workout plan that’ll finally give your overhead press a much needed push in the right direction, i.e. towards the sky.

Good. I have one for you. It’s called Press Pasodoble and it’s built on my belief that the overhead press is the most honest test of upper body strength, as well as my own training journey towards a PR that exceeds what once was my big bench press goal.

Press Pasodoble is available in our workout app StrengthLog, which you can download here:

Download StrengthLog Workout Log on App Store
Download StrengthLog Workout Log on Google Play Store

But hear me out first, I have more to say on the important matter of overhead pressing.

Overhead shoulder press
This is my colleague Daniel Richter, demonstrating proper overhead pressing form. The same exercise demo is available in our app StrengthLog.

Why You Should Make the Overhead Press Your Number One Upper Body Lift

Bench press might reign supreme in gyms all over the world, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that. You get to lay down on a bench, can lift artificially impressive weights (especially if you nail all technique hacks that’ll let you bench with a shorter range of motion), and random people will randomly ask you how much you bench.

But there’s more than one reason the world’s strongest men and women competitors press ridiculous weights over their skulls instead of laying down:

No matter how much you improve your technique, you’ll still have to press through a full range of motion. Which means you’ll have to actually get stronger and build more mass to lift heavier weights.

To make even the tiniest progress in the overhead press, you’ll have to put in the work. Like a lot of it.

It’s a truly hard and frustrating lift. But it’s also awesome – and a crowd pleaser.

If you’ve ever witnessed a powerlifting competition, you know what happens when they move on from the squat to the bench press – the audience leaves to pee or buy coffee because watching powerlifters bench press, is like the least inspiring thing ever.

End of debate.

If you want to build serious upper body strength (and become awesome), you need to overhead press.

Here’s me pressing 112.5 kg (248 lbs). It will not get me into the World’s Strongest Man final, but it’s honest work.

When You Want to Improve Your Overhead Press With a Proven Workout Routine, This Is It

Press Pasodoble has helped thousands of lifters become stronger and put on upper body mass.

Will it work for you too? Most likely, but let’s find out.

Are you:

  • an intermediate overhead presser, having maxed out your newbie gains and stopped making regular progress?
  • willing to focus on the overhead press, putting your bench press on the back burner for at least six weeks?

If yes, stop everything you’re doing and jump right into Press Pasodoble.

Your gains are waiting for you.

What Are You Getting Yourself Into With This Training Program?

Three upper body days a week. Two that focuses on the overhead press, one that lets you maintain your bench press (because I’m nice enough not to ask you to immediately give up all your bench press gains).

The program will not only make you a stronger overhead presser with bigger front deltoids, it will also increase your muscle mass throughout the upper body by including exercises for your:

  • Middle and rear deltoids.
  • Chest.
  • Upper back.

And you get to choose between two versions:

  1. Medium volume. This version will suit most people that haven’t prioritized the overhead press for a long time (or ever), doing only a handful of sets/week to hit the shoulders.
  2. High volume. If you’ve actually tried training the overhead press hard for a couple of times per week but stopped making gains, this version might suit you better.

The training volume is around 20 % higher in the high volume version, and most people should start with the medium volume version, before moving on and trying the high volume one.

Want to Push Press, Dumbbell Press or Do Another Press Variant Instead?

Sure, why not? There’s a big overlap between shoulder press variants, and you can easily switch out overhead press for any other big shoulder lift in the app, once you start the first workout in the program. I won’t even argue if you prefer sitting down instead of standing up.

You do you.

<< Read this article to learn more about the 10 best shoulder exercises >>

What About Lower Body Training?

This workout routine only covers upper body training. How you train your legs, butt, abs and lower back will be up to you, but we have training programs for that too!

Follow This Program

Want to give Press Pasodoble a go?

It’s available exclusively in our workout app StrengthLog .

While this program requires a premium subscription, StrengthLog itself is completely free. You can download it and use it as a workout tracker and general strength training app – and all basic functionality is free forever.

It even has a bunch of free programs and workouts (for instance, try this free shoulder workout). However, our more advanced programs (such as this one) are for premium users only.

Want to give premium a shot? We offer all new users a free 14-day trial of premium, which you can activate in the app.

Download StrengthLog for free with the buttons below:

Download StrengthLog Workout Log on App Store
Download StrengthLog Workout Log on Google Play Store

>> Click here to return to our list of training programs.

Photo of author

Philip Wildenstam

Philip used to be a powerlifter (his best lift was a 275 kg raw squat), but now he mostly eats, drinks, and sleeps. He's also a certified nutrition coach and a co-founder of StrengthLog, and he's always trying to make the app better and more user-friendly. If you ask Philip nicely, he might share his recipe for Swedish meatballs with you.