Bodybuilding Exercises for General Conditioning: Part I – Presses

The Sport of bodybuilding was popularized in the 1960s thanks to the muscular physiques of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Franco Columbu, Dave Draper, later Lee Haney, Ronnie Coleman or Kevin Levrone. People were initially impressed by the bodies of these men, who symbolized strength and power.

They were indeed strong and fit, because bodybuilding developed from weightlifting, strongman contests and other strength sports, where strength and fitness were the main goal. The early bodybuilders worked out with improvised weights, used gymnastics and also did lot of cardio activities. Here is a picture of Arnold doing HSPU.

Arnold doing HSPU
Arnold doing HSPU


Nowadays, Bodybuilding competitions are about muscle mass, definition and aesthetics. These athletes are undoubtedly strong, but many of these guys would have problems meeting the performance standards of elite level Crossfitters, Powerlifters, Olympic Weightlifters or Strongmen/women. 

The excessive use of isolation exercises and too much muscle mass can impair the natural mechanics of the body. With free weights, you must focus on maintaining the proper range of motion, which reinforces coordination and muscle activation. With machines, the trajectory is dictated by the settings.

Many basic exercises used in bodybuilding are great tools for developing strength, power and overall fitness. Usually, you can recognize bodybuilders who engage in these staples (such as squat variations, overhead presses or pullups) because their muscles look more athletic, more akin to the physiques of performance athletes. All of these exercises are used in general conditioning for various sports and are as well part of CrossFit. Every man or woman who really wants to be (not just look) fit should make sure that they are an important part of their training.


Strict Shoulder Press (Overhead Press, Military Press)

Lifting heavy objects overhead has been a benchmark of strength since the ancient times. It developed into the sport of weightlifting in the 19th century. Initially, there were three events: strict shoulder press, clean and jerk and snatch. The strict press was removed in 1972 because some of the weightlifters, in order to engage the chest muscles and push heavier weight, would over extent their back into dangerous positions.

Nevertheless, various types of overhead presses are still used as accessory lifts in weightlifting training and also have their place in strength and power routines of multiple sports. Unlike in push-press or jerk variations, the athlete controls the weight during the whole movement, which creates constant tension in the muscles…

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