The Viking Press: How to Perform and Include Them In Your Workouts

The Viking Press is a Strongman Competition lift that has slowly been gaining popularity in general strength-training circles. It is often used in major competitions in a format that is contested with either max weight, or by completing as many reps as possible.

The Viking Press implement is a device that utilizes a leverage system. An athlete will grab either a straight bar or parallel handles that are attached at the end of either a lever system, or a landmine apparatus. This then extends down to the fulcrum or pivot point, which typically is situated at chest height or lower.

How to Perform the Viking Press

The Viking Press is similar to most overhead pressing in that it is predominantly a shoulder and tricep focused movement. Depending on an athlete’s comfort level with the viking press, they may also perform a push press styled viking press movement, which will add the lower body to the equation, and allow more weight to be lifted.

It’s important to note that if you plan on competing in strongman a double knee bend is not allowed when doing the Viking Press. This means that after they do the initial dip and drive of a push press an athlete must keep their legs locked out. Any additional knee bend can be cause for a no-rep in competition, which can cost athletes placings in the rankings. The key components to a strong viking press can be broken down into three points.

  • The Dip: Similarly to the dip of a standard push press or jerk, the dip should be a very shallow and controlled movement. If you perform the dip too quickly, then you’ll will waste energy and disrupt potential power transfer into the implement in later parts of the movement. Think knees out and hips back while keeping the torso as stable as possible with the chest tall.
  • The Drive: During this portion of the lift an athlete will transfer the power produced by the lower body through their torso and into the implement through violent extension of the ankle, knee, and hip. When performing the drive the legs and hips are the main movers. Do not push early with the upper body, as this will break a stable base and allow power to dissipate. Let the lower body do the work. During the final part of the drive the implement will begin to become level with the chest due to this momentum. This leads into the final point.
  • The Press: Now it’s time to use the arms. After the violent drive that produces momentum to cause the implement to leave the racked position, then an athlete needs to begin pressing as hard as they can. It should be a smooth transition from the drive through the finishing portion of the press. When performing heavy viking presses there may be more of a grind to complete the lockout portion of the lift. In training I suggest trying to avoid this unless you are attempting to find a new max.

The most difficult part of preparing for a contest that has this lift is that typically a specially made implement is used in competition. It was previously not regularly used in training due to the rarity of gyms having the implement, but many strongman athletes have found ways to train around this inconvenience, and now many companies produce attachments to perform the movement.

The following video from Starting Strongman featuring Kalle Beck shows a great way to set up a training variation for the viking press when one does not have an attachment.

For those who are lucky enough to have an attachment, this video by Bret Contreras is a great way to set it up as well.

Implementing the Viking Press Into Your Program

For those interested in adding the Viking Press into their programs it’s fairly simple. Have it replace your current overhead movement for a training phase. You can train the whole strength spectrum with the Viking Press. If you choose to train max strength, then stick with ≥ 85% for fewer than 6 repetitions.

For those whose training goal is power production, then train at 80-90% for 1-2 reps. If you are preparing for a contest that is more repetition based and wish to still train power, then use 75-85% for 3-5 reps. Finally, if you are looking to put some meat on your shoulders stick with 70-85% for 6-12 reps. When an athlete adapts to this modality you can add band or chain resistance to the movement, which will cause the lockout to become more challenging.

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

Feature image screenshot from @this_is_ironn Instagram page.