Sots Press 

The Sotts Press is a movement rarely seen outside the weightlifting world (that's weightlifting, sport of, not Dude, I lift weights too). It offers unique strengthening, stabilization and flexibility components, and is also a remarkably gratifying disciplinary tool for your long-legged and short-hamstringed clients. for whom it will introduce an entirely new degree of suck.

In isolation, the movement is more than sufficient, but its AKP can be greatly improved by dropping it into movement complexes, for which it is superbly suited. That AKP, however, means there are some contraindications. If shoulder or hip flexibility is short of adequate, the Sotts press is a waste of time at best and potentially injurious at worst. I suggest your first attempts at the movement be both with a light weight and in private.

Some will find certain variations of the Sotts press to deliver some shoulder discomfort, in particular the snatch-grip barbell variation. This is less commonly a product of the movement's nature than of a tendency for the male lifter to place far too much weight on his bar in the presence of the fairer sex. Take her easy, fellas. Chicks dig big muscles, but it's tough to whip out a solid back double-biceps when your AC joints are inflamed.

How to Do It

The Sotts press, that is. This is a family publication. Rack a barbell across your shoulders as you would for a back squat and take a snatch-width grip. Snatch push-press the bar overhead and sink into the bottom of an overhead squat. Lower the bar to the back of the shoulders and press back overhead. To increase the AKP, pause at the bottom before pressing it back up. Some lifters will use a little leg bounce to initiate the press, but don't make this a habit before you develop a strict Sotts press.

How the movement is begun varies with the lifter and the circumstances. Some will just rack the bar and drop into the squat, starting the movement with the concentric instead of eccentric movement. But irrespective of where the bar is when you squat, it will weigh the same, so you might as well squat with it overhead and benefit from the demands while you're at it.


A quick way to increase the difficulty of the barbell Sotts press is to move the grip in to a clean width—this will demand great flexibility and also increase the range of motion.

Single-arm Sotts pressing is a good introduction to the movement as it allows much more freedom of movement to accommodate uncooperative shoulders. That said, it's more demanding in terms of stabilization. Keep your eyes forward, head neutral and torso squared—avoid the eyes-up overhead squat posture. Not only does it look silly, but it's preferred by so many because it so greatly reduces the flexibility demand. Don't make the movement easier—get better at it.

To further the discomfort, press two dumbbells or kettlebells simultaneously—stabilization will be even more difficult, the demand for flexibility about as great as it can be, and the range of motion at its maximum. You can also press two implements alternately.


The Sotts press lends itself well to complexes. A common weightlifting warm-up is muscle snatch + overhead squat + Sotts press + overhead squat. The numbers of each can be adjusted to suit each lifter's needs.

With dumbbells or kettlebells, the complex possibilities are numerous. One of my favorites for improving overhead stability is 1-arm dumbbell snatch + 2-5 Sotts press + overhead squat + 2-5 windmill. Experiment with new entries and exits from the movement. 

This article was originally published in the Performance Menu Journal.  

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