The overhead press is a fundamental strength and power exercise.
It primarily develops the front deltoids, which many consider to be the show muscles of the upper body.
For many guys, overhead pressing one plate is a major milestone in their strength and power development.
How long will it take you to be able to overhead press 135 pounds, or one full plate?
The amount of time it will take you to overhead press 135 pounds with strict form is heavily depending on your starting strength and bodyweight. However, an average man following a well-designed program in the gym can expect to OHP one plate in about 8 months of training.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the factors involved and how to speed up your progress on the shoulder press.
How Long Does It Take to OHP 135?
Before we drill down on the details, let’s provide an answer to the question:
How long does it take to overhead press 135 pounds?
Although it is hard to give a general answer because a lot depends on your strength coming in and your body weight, an average time to overhead press 135 pounds is about 8 months to a year, according to experts and personal trainers.
There are a number of factors involved including:
Training Experience & Starting Strength
A complete untrained beginner will obviously take much longer to master this movement than someone with previous athletic or gym experience.
Even if you haven’t lifted weights in a long time, but you used to, you’ll find your strength gains much faster than a true newbie.
Strength in raw numbers is one thing, but it’s more important to measure it as in proportion to your bodyweight.
For example, a 300 pounds man will overhead press 135 far easier than a 140 pound man — the extra mass and stability helps tremendously.
Women tend to carry less mass and overall power in their upper body when compared to men.
It’s definitely possible for women to strict press 135 pounds but it would be considered an elite-level lift according to most strength standards.
Now that we know it can take around 8 months — or much longer depending on the factors above — let”s learn a bit more about the press and how to improve your numbers.
Overhead Press Basics
The overhead press is considered to be a foundational lift.
If your goal is to get big and strong, you need to be doing this move!
It is one of the fastest routes to developing impressive upper body power and will help you to boost your bench press strength, as well.
In addition to building the delts, the OHP will strengthen your core, upper back, and triceps.
Here are the steps involved in performing the overhead press:
- Load an Olympic bar on a squat rack at shoulder level.
- Step up to the bar and unrack it to hold it at shoulder level with an underhand grip. Your feet should be shoulder width apart and your hands slightly wider than shoulder width.
- Press the bar directly overhead (don’t drift backwards). Press all the way to lock out and then lower through the same plane of movement.
Seated vs Standing Shoulder Press
Should you do the overhead press from a seated or standing position?
The actual movement doesn’t change between the two versions, but the standing version will build (and require) greater overall strength.
That’s because it requires more body stability.
Just be careful not to cheat by dipping at the hips and using momentum to propel the weight up when doing the standing version.
That’s called a Push Press, and it’s a fine exercise, but it will artificially inflate your strength numbers.
Advice on the Overhead Press from a Personal Trainer
Jack Coxall is a personal trainer with fitnesslab.fit.
He has been helping people build their basic strength through exercises like the OHP for years.
Here is Jack’s advice regarding whether you should be doing the OHP in the first place.
For a lot of people, doing an overhead movement like an overhead press isn’t as simple as it first seems.
It’s a highly complex movement that isn’t just about building massive boulder shoulders. It is a full body movement, requiring technique from what your feet are doing all the way to how you breath and what your rib cage does.
First things first, everyone should work out if they are even in a position to be lifting things overhead.
A lot of people simply don’t have the shoulder mobility or stability to handle a movement like an overhead press.
In order to qualify to do an overhead press of any kind, for me you have to be able to pass the following test and answer correctly to the following questions.
- Can you sit with your legs straight flat on the floor with your back up against the wall and with straight arms raise them above your head to the wall without your back coming away from the wall?
- Are you able to do the movement pain free?
- Do you have sufficient scapular control and stability?
- Can you do the movement without arching your lower back and flaring your ribs?
If you answer no to any of these questions in my opinion it would be a good idea to avoid going overhead for now until you can answer yes to all of them.
… Use alternatives like landline press where you can get the same adaptation but without the risk of injury!
However, if you pass this test and answer yes to these questions then with any strength related goal the next step is movement mastery, working your way through the progressions, patience and progressive overload.
Building Up to a 135lb OHP
In order to build up to a 135lb overhead press, you should work through a progression of exercises in order to develop mastery of the technique before you advance to using a barbell.
Here is one recommended exercise progression if you’re not ready to jump into using the barbell (click on each exercise for a video demonstration):
- High Incline Dumbbell Bench Press – seat set at 80 degrees
- Landmine Press
- Half Kneeling Kettlebell Overhead Press (single arm)
- Half Kneeling Dumbbell Overhead Press (single arm)
- Football Bar Overhead Press
- Barbell Overhead Press
I suggest planning to advance through these exercises over a period of 8 months if you are a complete newbie to weight training.
That works out to about 5 weeks on each of the six exercises above.
Begin with a weight that will allow you to perform 12 reps, with the last 2-3 reps being challenging.
For each exercise follow this set and rep scheme, increasing the weight slightly, with every rep drop:
- Set One: 12 reps
- Set Two: 10 reps
- Set Three: 8 reps
- Set Four: 6 reps
- Set Five: 6 reps
When you progress to the barbell version of the overhead press begin with just a 45 pound barbell, regardless of how strong you feel you are at this stage.
The mechanics of the barbell overhead press are quite different to other versions.
You need to give yourself time to get used to the balance and coordination issues involved with the exercise before adding weight.
After a couple of workouts with just the bar, add 10 pound plates.
Each workout you should be able to add weight until you naturally and seamlessly progress to a 45 pounder on each end of the bar, for a total of 135 pounds.
If and when you get stuck or hit a plateau on your barbell overhead press, rotate back to one of the similar and complimentary exercises lifted above for a couple of workouts before trying again.
How to Include the OHP in Your Shoulder Workout
The overhead shoulder press is an effective front deltoid developer.
As a result it should play a huge part in your shoulder workout.
The overhead press will take care of the front delts, but you’ll want to add some additional exercises for the best overall shoulder results.
To hit the side delts, you should do side cable lateral raise. The best exercise to hit the rear delts is the reverse cable crossover.
However, an effective shoulder workout will hit all three heads – front, side, and rear.
Here’s what your shoulder workout could look like:
- OHP – 5 x 12/10/8/6/6
- Cable Side Laterals – 5 x 20/15/12/10/8
- Reverse Cable Crossover – 5 x 20/15/12/10/8
This is just one way to program your workouts. Your best bet is to follow a good weightlifting routine or program that’s been designed by an expert to meet your own goals.
Work with a personal trainer to develop a custom routine, or don’t be afraid to spend money for a good one online!
The Overhead Press is a fundamental power and mass building exercise.
Once you build up enough power on the military press, you’ll have really impressive shoulders to show for all your hard work.
If your goal is to OHP 135 pounds, plan to get there in 8 months to a year if you are currently only able to press an empty 45 pound Olympic bar.
Follow the progressions outlined here to get there as efficiently and safely as possible.
Before you go, don’t miss:
- How long does it take to bench 225?
- How long does it take to squat 315?
- How long does it take to deadlift 405?
Hope this helps!