Lifters with better mobility are likely to be more effective in the gym. Many typical training routines in the gym are often biased towards larger muscle groups like the pecs and shoulders. They lack adequate time spent training muscles that help with stability, like the lower traps and scapula. (1) Powerlifters would be served well to specifically train for mobility as their training volume or frequency is unlikely to improve their mobility any more than a non-powerlifter. (2) Decorated competitive powerlifter Kevin Oak seems to be quite aware of the gains to be had via improved mobility.
On Oct. 31, 2021, Oak took to his Instagram to share a video, wherein he successfully performed a strict 124.7-kilogram (275) behind-the-neck push press top single. He supplemented it with a 102.1-kilogram (225-pound) set of six reps — hitting all seven reps beltless and without elbow sleeves. Check it out below, and notice how stiff and upright his upper body remains throughout the lift. He does not tilt backward, nor does his head move out of alignment with his spine, though he apparently struggled more to lockout his left elbow than his right:
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Judging by the caption of Oak’s Instagram post, he isn’t excited about behind-the-neck push presses being a part of his current programming. However, although it is a strenuous technical movement, the benefits are noticeable.
Hard on my shoulders and hard on core…my shoulder blades have been moving more freely since adding these back in.
Oak’s current programming is preparing for the 2022 World Raw Powerlifting Federation (WRPF) The Ghost Clash, set to take place on Feb. 12-13, 2022, in Miami, FL. Oak is one of many notable names in powerlifting confirmed for that event, including Dan Bell, Andrew Haus, Kody Blazek, Jannessa Labbate, and Julius Maddox.
Overhead pressing and scapular mobility has been at the forefront of Oak’s training recently. Check out the strict overhead press he performs beltless in the video below from the vantage point of a weight plate on the barbell:
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[Related: Larry Wheels Shoulder Presses 140-Pound Dumbbells for 17 Reps]
Oak currently holds the all-time raw squat world record in the 110-kilogram weight class. He posted the second-largest total in that weight category — 987.5 kilograms (2,177.1 pounds) at the 2019 USPA The Tribute, which won. Jamal Browner holds the current 1,000-kilogram (2,204.6-pound) world record total.
We’ll see if Oak’s push press training leads him to call for some significant weight on the barbell at The Ghost Clash and if he can challenge Browner for the world record total in Miami.
- Kolber, M. J., Beekhuizen, K. S., Cheng, M. S., & Hellman, M. A. (2009). Shoulder joint and muscle characteristics in the recreational weight training population. Journal of strength and conditioning research, 23(1), 148–157. https://doi.org/10.1519/JSC.0b013e31818eafb4
- Chang, D. E., Buschbacher, L. P., & Edlich, R. F. (1988). Limited joint mobility in power lifters. The American journal of sports medicine, 16(3), 280–284. https://doi.org/10.1177/036354658801600315
Featured image: @oakstrong on Instagram