As with most events in professional strongman, proper technique is often more effective than brute strength. Knowing the subtle nuances of how to lap an Atlas Stone from the floor, how to position one’s feet during a deadlift with various barbells, or how to position the elbows in the rack position of a log press can propel a smaller athlete with less strength up the leaderboards over athletes with immense power and the inability to harness it effectively.
Mitchell Hooper is one of the former. His precision and specificity for technique and form during each lift have excelled him in the fray with the best strongmen in the world, racking up podium finishes left and right. On Feb. 8, 2023, Hooper took to his YouTube channel to publish a video wherein he showed his seminar students how to correctly lock a Viking Press out overhead within the rules of competitive strongman. Check it out below:
Most overhead events in strongman are variations of the push press. The power is derived from the legs, and the goal in training should be staying comfortable with the implement in the rack position, resting on the body for as long as possible. Any weight held by the chest, front delts, triceps, or grip will drain excess energy vital for staying consistent throughout competition. Furthermore, it could weaken the immediate lift by reaching fatigue preemptively.
You should never think you’re trying to push it off your shoulders — there’s no power at all there.
According to Hooper, the trick in overhead movements is to “jump” to generate momentum to maneuver under the implement and stabilize it overhead rather than trying to press it from the starting position. This is similar to how Olympic weightlifters perform the jerk of a clean & jerk.
Leave it on your chest as long as you can, then drop your center of mass. Any weight in your hands will be to your detriment.
The methodology is the same for the Viking Press, with a slight variation. The rules in strongman state that an athlete can not double-dip their knees during a Viking Press rep — meaning once they bend the knees initially to lift the weight, they can’t dip the knees again to press it further. However, rather than using strength alone to grind the weight to lockout — a lot of stress on the triceps — Hooper recommends learning to drop one’s center of mass, which is a legal maneuver, even if it doesn’t look as smooth.
Dropping the center of mass in the Viking Press after the initial drive appears as though the athlete is performing a limbo, leaning far back. This allows the arms to lockout, so the athlete needs only to stand up straight, as the weight will already be positioned overhead. It’s not necessarily pretty, but it is effective.
The stronger you are, the smaller the dip.
Foot placement is also a critical strategic feature in the Viking Press. If the feet are not required to stay confined, stepping away from directly under the handles is highly advantageous. The reason for this is that the fulcrum of the Viking Press is static.
Lean into it and use your body for leverage.
If the feet are right under the handles, the press overhead will be farther up than if the athlete’s feet are positioned on an angle in relation to the handle. Lockout overhead on a diagonal is less direct pressure than if the weight were stacked vertically over the joints. The cumulative difference in distance in an event most often calibrated for reps is immense.
Featured image: @mitchellhooper on Instagram