PTTP sidepress with barbell--common or not?

Discussion in 'Barbell' started by guardian7, Apr 17, 2019.

  1. guardian7

    guardian7 More than 300 posts

    Although I have read basically all the other books, I just bought PTTP in kindle. It was not available before. Do people actually do the sidepress with the barbell as in the PTTP original book or is it considered dated and something better for intermediate lifters? I rarely see it mentioned, although people do talk about the KB bent press around here.

    It would seem that the KB press would be the way to start. The barbell side press strikes me as difficult lift to start with. If the thinking has changed, what do you think an average male's KB press 1rm and rm should be before moving on to the side barbell press. I am interested in forearm and grip strength so the barbell work appeals. Also, since I don't need a full olympic bar, I have easier access to to doing this at home. My only concern is the collars, having the plates slide off would be even worse than a bench press fail.
  2. Chrisdavisjr

    Chrisdavisjr Quadruple-Digit Post Count

    The side press is a tricky lift and it requires performing a set for each arm, meaning most trainees went for the bench press or floor press (my own preference when short on time).

    The KB press is a little easier than a barbell press as the mass is gathered in one area and the weight sits below the hand, giving slightly more favourable leverage. Transitioning to pressing a barbell requires a different set-up and a different grip (the wrist will need to be slightly flexed in order to have the bar resting at the base of the palm directly over the bones of the forearm).

    I can comfortably press a 24kg kettlebell for 6-8 reps on any given day but I can only press a 20kg 7ft barbell for 5-6 reps. My KB press 1RM is 28kg. I haven't tested my 1RM with the barbell. Hopefully this gives you some idea of relative difficulty and progression.

    In terms of safety, if the collars on your barbell are firm enough to keep the weights in place when getting the barbell in position, the rest of the lift shouldn't be a problem as the bar stays parallel to the ground throughout. If you're not sure, always err on the side of caution and invest in stronger collars.
  3. guardian7

    guardian7 More than 300 posts

    Thanks. That confirms what I thought. I will stick to KB press and bench.
  4. the hansenator

    the hansenator More than 500 posts

    I like the pttp style side press with a dumbell, it agrees with my shoulder more than most other presses.
    guardian7 likes this.
  5. Steve W.

    Steve W. Quadruple-Digit Post Count

    I've done a lot of PTTP side pressing and it is a lift I really enjoy. A few observations and considerations based on my experience:

    --There are a lot of versions of the side press, from "almost a military press" to "almost a bent press." Some traditional definitions specify that both knees stay locked. The PTTP version allows a bent front leg. It also borrows from the bent press in starting with your elbow back against the lat (imagine you are picking up a heavy sack by holding the gathered top of the sack and slinging it over your shoulder -- that's the start of the side press, not a squared up military press rack position) and in pushing yourself away from the weight (instead of just pressing the weight up). However, it is much more upright than the bent press, with less folding under the weight, and it is a real press rather than a support (the weight should always be moving upward throughout the ROM).

    --It is important to find the right balance point to grip the bar. With the wrong balance point and groove, bar will tilt and wave around all over the place. There is a learning curve and some experimentation in getting it right, so be a little patient. With the right balance point, the bar will be extremely stable. You don't even have to grip it tightly (although you may want to to generate tension). With the right balance point, and the right groove for the lift, the bar will just go straight up and down almost like it is locked in a Smith machine.

    --The right balance point will NOT be with your hand centered on the bar. Move your thumb side a little closer to the collar, so the balance point is a spot on the base of the hand approximately below the pinky finger. Experiment to find the right spot for you and practice so you can reliably find that spot.

    --I have never liked shouldering the bar as shown in the book. I either take the bar off a rack at shoulder height, or one arm snatch it to overhead and lower it into position for the first rep. I will also snatch or clean and push press the bar overhead with two hands, then adjust my grip to one hand with the bar overhead, and lower the bar into position for the first rep. This way, the bar is always horizontal and there is no extra stress on the collars. I have never had plates slip at all when side pressing.

    --As alluded to above, I like to LOWER the bar into position for the first rep. Even when I take the bar off a rack at shoulder height, I will jerk/push press it overhead and then lower it into position. I find this allows me to generate more tension for the first rep, and get into a better starting position.

    --I can lift a lot more in the barbell side press than the KB military press. My KB MP 1RM is 36kg (a little more than 79lbs), but I have done 95lbs x 5 and 105lbs x 1 in the barbell side press.

    --In planning your cycles, the side press is lift you have to be a little patient with. You won't necessarily make fast linear progress. So step cycles and wave cycles with lots of backcycling work better. You are not going to be able to just slap on 5 more pounds from session to session to session.
  6. Pavel Macek

    Pavel Macek More than 2500 posts Master Instructor

    Side press, floor press, bench press - all great choices for PTTP!

    As PTTP! deadlift and kettlebell military press, Pavel wrote some time ago on the forum (quote): may use the ‘Enter the Kettlebell!’ Right of Passage press plan, just lower the volume to 3 ladders... There are several options. One is (12345)x3 on the heavy day, x2 on the medium day, and x1 on the light day.
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  7. guardian7

    guardian7 More than 300 posts

    It does seem to be a more "natural way" to lift something heavy overhead with one arm doesn't it? Imagine you are taking down or putting somehign up that is heavy from a shelf well over your head. You would naturally lean to the opposite side to counterbalance and bring your center of gravity under you, and drop your weight at the hip on that side. Then, use your dominant hand on the opposite side to guide it. Also, leaning is expected and within the "rules" when pressing half bodyweight as far as I know. I have seen video of beast press attempts and no one presses straight up without leaning at that weight.
    the hansenator likes this.
  8. guardian7

    guardian7 More than 300 posts

    I appreciate the detailed reply. The tip about push pressing it up sounds great. I was not too keen on supporting weight on my clavicle like the picture.

    At the weight you can handle (more than you 1 arm KB press, which is the key point here) what benefits would you say there are to doing the one hand side press with a barbell vs a regular two hand barbell press. The answer is always both are good of course, but I am interested in the difference.

    Greater forearm emphasis? It seems that it is more of a balancing movement than high tension grip work than I thought. I can sort of see it now thanks to your description. Like the mixed grip in the DL, you need to find the center of balance of the bar in the physics sense and not have your hands in the middle or equidistant it would seem. In theory, you could balance an unloaded bar on one finger.
  9. guardian7

    guardian7 More than 300 posts

    A good option. By the way, I appreciate you putting up the old time strongman images and video on your simplexstrong site. It gives some context to why to suggest the side and bent press. It was clearly a basic move back in the day that we "lost."
    Pavel Macek likes this.
  10. Steve W.

    Steve W. Quadruple-Digit Post Count

    I'm not sure I could list quantifiable benefits.

    IMO, the side press is more shoulder-friendly than the regular barbell MP, due to being able to initiate the press partly by pushing yourself away from the bar, and the fact that a one-arm lockout has a lower mobility demand than a two-arm lockout (on the other hand, the starting position of the side press has a higher mobility demand than the military press rack). I also find the side press involves the lats more, and it's a slightly different skill of wedging under the bar (the latter is more a difference than a benefit -- you wedge under the bar in a barbell MP as well, just in a different way).

    Mostly I just find the side press fun and it feels good and natural to me. But they are both great lifts and there's no reason to have to choose only one (or to do a drill that doesn't feel good or fun for you, whatever that may be).
    Shahaf Levin and guardian7 like this.
  11. guardian7

    guardian7 More than 300 posts

    I tried it this weekend and it was a lot of fun. The neutral grip felt good on the shoulders like the neutral grip pullup does. The only downside was doing it in a gym with other people around.
  12. Steve W.

    Steve W. Quadruple-Digit Post Count

    Neutral grip?

    It should be more like a behind the neck press position with the bar parallel to the shoulders. Get the elbow back on your lat. If I am taking the bar off a rack at shoulder height, I face away from the rack to lift the bar off the hooks.

    To me, that's part of the upside -- it looks cool and freaks people out (or at least confuses them).
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2019
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  13. J Way

    J Way Double-Digit Post Count

    I like doing the side press for that reason, and because it is just a lot easier for me to groove than a decent military press. I taught myself to MP from Starting Strength, but taught myself poorly. The side press has fewer moving parts compared to Rippetoe’s press, and the biggest upside is that the equipment is never being used. There’s always somebody using the bench at my gym, even if it’s just to watch Tik Tok videos on their phone and feel like a big bad dude while doing so.
  14. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides Dir. of Community Engagement Senior Instructor

    When I used to do PTTP in my local YMCA basement gym, people used to tell me I looked like a warrior communing with my weapon - no kidding - when I was working on my side press. It's still an excellent movement. The biggest difficulty with it, at least in my experience, is breaking through the plateaus that seem to occur. It's not the user-friendliest of movements in that way, IMHO.

    Chrisdavisjr likes this.
  15. J Way

    J Way Double-Digit Post Count

    Thanks for this! Just to make sure, the ETK! ROP plan has a lifter pressing three times a week; PTTP! has a five day plan of pressing. Would this synthetic plan involve deadlifting five times a week and pressing the KB in ladders three times a week?
  16. Pavel Macek

    Pavel Macek More than 2500 posts Master Instructor

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