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Deadlift and overhead press

Posted by Pascal Landshoeft

Apr 16, 2019 9:30:00 AM

Deadlift and overhead press

Deadlift and overhead press

The deadlift and overhead press make a good push / pull combination for a complete session in one day. You get your entire body worked using a barbell.

Deadlift calculator

What is your why 


Before we go into the details of the deadlift and the overhead press let me ask you a couple of questions:


  • Why do you look at the deadlift and overhead press? 
  • Why do you want to train? 
  • Why do you want to get stronger? 
  • Why do you want to build muscle
  • What happens if you do? 
  • What happens if you don’t? 


These questions might seem trivial to you but are important to long-term success. Especially on hard days you really have to know why you are in this game. Most people think about their goals this way:


  • What do I want 
  • How Do I get it 
  • Why do I want to get it 


If you prioritize and steer your life in this fashion you will become a slave to your impulses. What you want changes often and quickly based on your surroundings. With this, you will go everywhere and nowhere. If you change your thinking to focus on your why, you will stop being a slave to your instincts. Just flip the order


  • Why do you want something 
  • How do you get it 
  • What do you need to do 

In my personal case, everything changed when I looked at my goals this way. I changed from focusing on becoming a manager to being a good father and happy. Becoming a manager is what. It is not why you want to do something. If you are not convinced yet look up Simon Sinek's TED Talk on the golden circle. He makes a very compelling case telling the story of the Wright brothers.




The deadlift is one of the most iconic exercises you can do in the gym. For decades it has been a staple of raw strength and power. If you want to learn more about the deadlift look up lifters like


  • Ed Coan
  • Dan Green
  • Frank Duffin 
  • The deadlift doctor 
  • Calgary Barbell
  • Eddie Hall
  • Andy Bolton

These lifters know their trade and you can learn a lot to bridge the gap from mediocre to being great. When the public talks about the deadlift they usually refer to the conventional deadlift. There are more variations of the deadlift than this out there. Here are some examples:


  • Conventional deadlift
  • Sumo deadlift
  • Trap Bar Deadlift
  • Banded deadlifts
  • Deadlifts with chains
  • Halted deadlifts
  • Deficit Deadlifts
  • Rack Pulls
  • Romanian deadlifts
  • Dumbbell deadlifts
  • Kettlebell deadlift

And the list goes on depending on your goals and personal preferences. The heaviest deadlifts of all time are mostly conventional deadlifts. The biggest pound for pound deadlifts is usually sumo deadlifts. the deadlift has two sticking points. The first is off the floor, the second at lock out. If you can not lift the weight off the floor you are simply too weak. Failing the deadlift at lockout is usually a result of lack of technique or aggressiveness. The deadlift mainly trains your quads, traps, hamstrings and lower back. In total, it trains the muscles in the back a bit more than in the front.


To perform a good deadlift follow these steps:


  1. Place your midfeet under the bar
  2. Grip the bar in a mixed or hook grip
  3. Lower yourself to the bar
  4. Turn in your elbows as if you squeezed lemons on your armpits
  5. Be patient off the floor, make the bar bend
  6. Initiate the pull by driving your legs into the ground, make a footprint
  7. Squeeze your glutes 
  8. Pop your hips forward to lock out
  9. Complete the lift
  10. Set down the bar

There is a big discussion about keeping your back straight during the deadlift. I find that this queue does not help to achieve the goal. Keeping maximum tension and turning your elbows in does. 


The biggest advantages of the deadlift are that it helps you to develop pure strength and raw commitment. There is just something primal and satisfying about the deadlift that none of the other lifts conveys.


The biggest disadvantages of the deadlift are its risk for lower back injuries and that it is not well suited for bodybuilding. It is just not a lift that lends itself to high repetition work. If you want to do go high rep, the sumo deadlift is usually better than the conventional to keep your back intact. 


Overhead press 


The overhead press a very good exercise to develop your shoulders and arms. It is often forgotten beside the big three compound lifts. The overhead press itself does not really have any sport it is performed in. Weightlifters will use more momentum, while powerlifters often do not even do the lift at all. Strongmen usually do variations of the overhead press with logs or other cumbersome heavy objects. Similar lifts to the overhead press are:


  • Jerk
  • Push press
  • Military press
  • Seated overhead press


To perform an overhead press follow these steps:


  1. Adjust the J Cups to the right height on the power rack
  2. Get the barbell loaded with plates
  3. Walk up to the bar and wedge yourself under it
  4. Pop your hips forward to unrack
  5. Do three steps back to walk out 
  6. Push up the weight 
  7. Carry on until your arms are straight 
  8. Lower the bar back to your chest
  9. Repeat and rerack the bar


The overhead press mainly trains your shoulders, traps, triceps, and biceps. The less hip drive you use the more it turns into an arms exercise. The big debate on the internet is about whether or not to use leg and hip drive in the movement. I personally don't care. The less hip and leg drive you use the more of a bodybuilding exercise it becomes. The more hip and leg drive is involved the more it will become a strongman movement.


The biggest advantage of the overhead press is that you can train your shoulders really easily. It is a great exercise for bodybuilding purposes.


The biggest disadvantages are that it is very isolated and does not really lend itself to heavy work. This is usually better done with the clean and jerk.


Should you combine the deadlift and overhead press 


The deadlift and the overhead press are two great exercises to combine in one session. I like to do the deadlift first and follow up with overhead presses for a full body workout without risking injury.


Further reading 



Topics: Lift stronger, Deadlift, Fitness, Strength