The Sots Press: How, When, and Why It Should Be in Your Training

The Sots press is an amazing strength and mobility exercise to for weightlifters, CrossFit® athletes, and even powerlifters. The benefits of performing such movement may very dependent the sport and/or goal. This pressing in squat variation will undoubtedly work to increase mobility and strength in the hips, back, and shoulder girdle, while increasing core stabilization; all of which are vital to most athletes. Let’s explore further how the Sots Press can be a beneficial assistance exercise for weightlifters AND other strength and functional fitness athletes.

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The History Behind the Sots Press

“The Sot Press” was named after Russian weightlifter (1981 and 1982 World Weightlifting Championships Men’s 100kg), Viktor Sots. Viktor Sots’ “claim to fame” was being the first heavy lifter to exclusively use the squat jerk instead of the split jerk in competition, often seen pressing from the front rack position in the squat. Throughout the years, the “Sots press” has been used to describe any pressing movement while in the squat (behind the neck, front rack, etc), however the original variation was performed by Viktor in the front.

When:

This exercise can be performed throughout warm up sets to increase mobility and prep for overhead work and squatting movements, or after main lifts as an accessory lift to increase mobility and strengthen the hips, back, and shoulder.

Why:

The Sots press promotes mobility, strength, and core stabilization, regardless of sport. Let’s discuss the direct payoff for the following athletes.

Weightlifters

Seeing that the Sots press was named after an elite world champion weightlifter, it makes perfect sense why weightlifters would benefit from such a movement. Depending upon the variation that you choose; kettlebell, barbell from front rack, or even behind the neck presses in squat (often referred to as “press in squat”), mobility and strength can be developed in the receiving positions in the snatch and clean and jerk. Additionally, this is a great warm-up and assistance exercise because it allows a lifter to create maximal tension and stabilization while in the deep squatted position, which is critical in heavy lifts. This exercise (and the very similar, “press in squat”) has been use to increase strength and mobility in the receiving positions of snatches and cleans in all level weightlifters.

Powerlifters

The Sots press and variations can be a great way to add mobility and balance strength training into a powerlifting program. By increase the dynamic range of motion and control in the ankles, knees, hips, lumbar, thoracic cavity, and shoulder girdle can help to promote better mobility and overall strength in squatting and pressing movements. Although the movement is not inherent to powerlifting (squat, deadlift, bench press), it could enhance a lifters resilience to injury and/or promote greater mobility (primarily hip and thoracic extension) which could promote better patterning and positioning in low bar squatting, pressing, and training.

CrossFitters and Fitness Athletes

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Aside from the enhanced mobility and strength in the hips, back, and shoulders, the Sots press can help to improve the weightlifting components found throughout WODs and sports training programs. Snatches, cleans, and jerks are training staples, and much like weightlifters, the movements can be directly enhanced using the Sots press as a primer exercise before a workout, or as an assistance exercise.

How:

  1. Unrack or clean the barbell/kettlebells into the front rack position, and descend into a squat.
  2. While in the bottom of the front squat, tighten you core and upper back, bringing your torso vertical.
  3. When ready, drive through the load vertically with a rigid torso, allowing your hips to open, further allowing you to sit under the bar. Be sure to keep full contact with the feet on the floor.
  4. With the load in the overhead position (barbell or kettlebells aligned behind the neck), stabilize, and then return the load to the front rack position.
  5. Repeat for prescribed reps.

Final Thoughts:

The Sots press is a viable training exercise for most athletes looking to promote sound mobility and stability throughout the body. Increase range of motion and control in the ankles, knees, hips, core, thoracic cavity, and shoulder girdle are all requirements for strength and power movements. Coaches and athletes can explore this exercise and program it throughout warm-up routines or as accessory training.

Editors note: This article is an op-ed. The views expressed herein are the authors and don’t necessarily reflect the views of BarBend. Claims, assertions, opinions, and quotes have been sourced exclusively by the author.

Featured Image: @zwatts42 on Instagram

About the author

Mike Dewar

Mike holds a Masters in Exercise Physiology from Columbia University in NYC, USA. Mike is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), USA Weightlifting Club Coach (USAW2), and Performance Nutrition Coach. Mike is a sponsored ReebokONE Ambassador specializing in weightlifting, barbell and powerlifting training, and sport-specific strength and conditioning. Additionally, Mike is an Assistant Coach of Strength and Conditioning at NYU and the Co-Founder at J2FIT Human Performance in NYC, USA. Mike is the Founder of The Barbell CEO, a lifestyle brand devoted to the strongest coaches, entrepreneurs, and minds. Additionally, Mike is a co-host on The Fittest League Podcast.