Klokov Press – Muscles Worked, Exercise Demo, and Benefits

Overhead strength and muscle mass necessary to snatch heavy loads is often something that lifters struggle with. The Klokov press, named after Dmitry Klokov, is an accessory lift that can build serious amounts of shoulder strength, stability, and have a direct impact on overhead performance in the snatch.

In this article, we will go over what a Klokov press is, how to do one, training benefits, and most importantly; how to program them immediately into your current weight lifting routine.

What Is a Klokov Press?

The Klokov Press is named after former heavyweight World Champion Russian weightlifter, Dmitry Klokov, who in the past few years has made a large name for himself on social media, in coaching and educational seminars, and online. One lift that he is often seen performing (and is a huge advocate for) is the Klokov Press (also known as the behind the neck snatch strict press).

To perform this lift, a lifter takes the barbell in the back rack position with a snatch-grip width on the barbell. Once they are firmly standing with their knees and hips extended (like a strict standing press),  the lifter is to strict press the barbell overhead (without the use of lower body assistance), so that their final resting position is with the barbell overhead with the hands at snatch-grip width. Below, Dmitry Klokov demonstrates how to perform his famous press.

Muscles Worked

The Klokov press works the muscles of the upper back, traps, and posterior shoulder. In addition, it can also target the triceps and their ability to extend to finish off the overhead press.

Benefits of the Klokov Press

Below are three (3) benefits of the Klokov press that coaches and athletes can expect to see when programming these within accessory and/or main strength blocks for weightlifters and function fitness athletes alike.

Stronger Upper Back

The Klokov press targets muscles necessary for a strong overhead position in the snatch. By performing these, a lifter can develop muscle hypertrophy and strength in the shoulders and upper back.

Lateral Deltoid and Posterior Shoulder Development

Development of the deltoids and posterior shoulder are key for overhead stability and strength in the receiving position of the snatch. Instability caused by poor muscle development can often result in missed lifts and injury. The Klokov press can be done to target the deltoids and position shoulder fo lifters who may be lacking overall size and strength in the shoulders.

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Overhead Strength and Stability

When snatching, overhead strength and stability is key to minimize buckling of the elbows and prevent injury the wrists, elbows, and shoulder. Klokov presses can be used to strengthen the specific motor movements and muscle fibers needed in a snatch, making it a great accessory lift to address weakness for lifter with soft elbows in the snatch.

How to Program the Klokov Press

Like most accessory strength movements, the Klokov press can be added into later segments of a daily weighting program and/or on general strength and hypertrophy days. Most coaches will find benefit in including it after main snatch, clean, and jerk work for a specific day so that the lifter can still attack the main lifts in a less fatigued state (because the Klokov press is a taxing muscle building movement). Below are some recommendations for integrating the pressing movement into training programs

Beginners

Beginners should approach this moment with caution, as they may have not developed the necessary range of motion and control in the shoulder joint/complex. Beginners should work with light loads first, with slow and controlled tempos to ensure proper joint mechanics and to not overstress the smaller muscles within the posterior shoulder (rotator cuff muscles, etc). I find it best to have them perform this with an empty barbell for 8-10 slow and controlled repetitions (both up and down) for 2-3 sets either before sessions or towards the end.

Warm-Ups

Performing these before training sessions can be a good way to activate and prime the muscles of the upper back and shoulders for an upcoming snatch or overhead squat session. When done before the main lifts, I recommend you perform moderate to light loading for moderate reps and sets; with the focus on movement rather than adding high amounts of fatigue.

Accessory Blocks (for non-beginners)

For lifters who are more experienced, adding heavier loads to the Klokov press could be beneficial for building muscle mass and positional strength. I recommend that athletes perform 3-6 repetitions for 3-6 sets using moderate to heavy loads. I typically try to have my athletes not perform with as heavy of weights as possible since the stress on the shoulder at the start of the movement and lowering can be pretty taxing on the smaller muscles in the shoulder. That said, once they have build up enough volume and basic control/strength, adding more load is often acceptable (such as in Klokov’s videos…). As a general recommendation, moderate reps with moderate loads for moderate sets is a good starting point.

Build a Better Snatch

Take a look below at the snatch guides and exercise variations to improve snatch technique, strength, and performance.

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