Welcome back! So you want to get to Level 7 (or maybe just 4, 5, or 6) and you’ve hit a wall. Most people have similar weaknesses, and I am addressing some of those. In part 1 (read part 1 by clicking here) I talked about Pull-Ups, here in Part 2 I am going to delve into improving your overhead strength and stability.
The Overhead Press, TGU and Loaded Carries are all dependent on shoulder stabilization and thoracic mobility. High volume Get-Ups and training the Waiters Walk will do wonders here. The Overhead Press will “fix itself” as a result.
First of all, the only way to specifically improve something is to regularly program it into your training. You want to perform a version of a movement at least 1-3 times per week. So, yes, that means that your completely randomized workouts have to take a back seat for a little while.
Depending on how inflexible your thoracic (upper) spine is will dictate how long this process takes you. Also, your core stabilization strength will really come into play here, especially with the Double Waiters Walks.
Movement 1: Heavy Turkish Get-Ups (TGU). Pavel’s “Simple and Sinister” is a great way to start here. In his book you slowly work up to 10 get-ups with the same size heavy KB. These are done as 5 singles per side, making 10 total. You want to do some warm-ups sets first, so you may end up doing 14-16 total get-ups here. But this is just a start. You really need high volume (20-30 total reps or more) to really reap the rewards of what the TGU can do for you. Most people regard the TGU as just a warm-up or cool-down movement, when it has so much more potential than that. There are a few guys I follow that are really pushing the envelope of what is possible with TGU programming. Really focus on each step of the movement, and the scapular and shoulder stability and strength you will gain will go through the roof. As will your abdominal strength, hip mobility, and leg strength.
Do the TGU’s alone or super-set them with an opposing movement like pull-ups (low-rep/high volume day goes well here) or Swings for a simple yet effective workout.
Movement 2: Overhead holds. The hardest part of the Waiters Walk is just stabilizing the weights overhead. So in the beginning, don’t even worry about walking, and just hold the weight overhead for time. You can start with single overhead, then a rack and overhead, and then work up to double overhead. While holding the weights, really focus on keeping the abdominals and spinal erectors tight, yet allowing the diagphram to relax to allow you to breath. Rotate the pelvis forward and clench the glutes, and feel how that gives your core a base to sit on. Keep the elbows locked, and the fists directly above the shoulders so that the KB itself helps you pack the shoulder. Really retract the scapula and pack the shoulders into the sockets, feeling every accessory muscle that is working to keep everything in place.
These can be super-setted with Farmer’s Walks, or even deadlifts. You just want an opposing movement. I wouldn’t use Pull-Ups here, as you want the stabilizing muscles fresh.
Movement 3: Overhead Pressing. So here is an exception to the rule that the only way to improve something is to continue practicing it. If you can only do two of these three movements per week, do the Get-Ups and Overhead Holds/Walks. If you have time, then you can practice the Overhead Press. Because at this point, that’s all it really needs to be – practice. Your Overhead Press day will be your litmus test for the other two days. If they are working, then it will show here. Keep the reps low, and work on making your test weight feel “easy.” Don’t worry about setting strength PR’s here. If you get stuck at a weight, use the following set/rep scheme (this is after the lead-ups sets to the sticking weight): 2/2/2, 3/2/1, 3/3, 4/2, 5. Move up from one weight to the next whenever you can successfully make the lifts for two consecutive weeks.
This would be a good day to pair with the high rep/low set Pull-Up day.
Next up we’ll get into how to make those Snatches/Cleans and Complexes turn into rest periods!
Tim Peterson, Chief FitRanX® Instructor