Last updated on November 3rd, 2022 at 05:20 pm
Who else has wondered, “Should You Do Overhead Press and Bench Press on the Same Day?”
There are probably no two better push-based exercises than the overhead press and the bench press.
So, if you want to get a bigger and stronger upper body these two movements are a must.
However, you’ll typically find that one lift can be impacted by the other.
This generally means that the exercise you’re doing second in your workout isn’t completed with as much intensity.
So, this begs the question whether you should be doing both on the same day.
Let’s find out.
Should You Do Overhead Press and Bench Press on the Same Day?
If you are following a push/pull/legs workout split there’s typically no way to avoid doing overhead press and bench press on the same day. However, you can vary the intensity of each pressing movement on subsequent training days. So, for one workout you perform a heavy strength-focused overhead press followed by a lighter, high-volume bench press. The next push workout session you perform a heavy bench press followed by a lighter, high-volume overhead press.
Vary the Intensity Of Your Lifts
I still view the push/pull/legs workout split as one of the best.
This is typically ideal whether you workout 3 or 6 days a week.
Plus, it allows you to hit every major muscle group.
Following a 3-day split you’ll usually focus more on pure strength training, i.e. heavy load with fewer reps.
And if you follow a 6-day split then you have the opportunity to have a specific strength day and a specific hypertrophy day.
With that being said, you’ll generally find that one lift is affected by the other.
I would hazard a guess that most of you would perform a heavy bench press first in your workout, and this would be followed by a heavy overhead press.
But, in reality your overhead press suffers because your pushing muscles are already fairly fatigued.
The first option you have is to vary the intensity of each lift on different workout days.
And you can do this whether you follow a 3-day or a 6-day split.
So, the first workout you may perform a heavy 5×5 session on the bench press.
I would then follow this up with some lighter, but higher volume overhead pressing.
Perhaps, a seated overhead dumbbell press of 4 sets of 12-15 reps.
For my next push-based workout I would start off with a heavy 5×5 military press.
And then this is followed by an incline dumbbell chest press of 4 sets of 12-15 reps.
This way you can even out your training by ensuring that both the main lifts get some heavy strength work.
Plus, you get to perform some accessory work, which is not only good for hypertrophy, but will help with strength training too.
Have an Additional Specialization Training Day
You may wish to focus more on one of the two big pressing lifts.
If this is the case I would add in a specific specialization training day.
So, I see nothing wrong with following the above mentioned protocol and then having another separate day that is specifically focused on either heavy overhead or bench pressing.
Obviously, this will depend on the workout split that you’re following.
Plus, you have to take your schedule and recovery into consideration.
So, let’s say that you want to focus more on the bench press.
I would then start on Monday with a heavy overhead press, e.g. 5×5.
I would also include other accessory work for both shoulders and chest.
This may include dumbbell overhead press, dumbbell chest press, lateral raise, chest flyes, etc.
Then on Thursday I would have a specific chest focused day.
Perhaps you could go slightly heavier and perform 8 sets of 3 reps.
Then you could finish off the workout with some more chest accessory work, e.g. weighted dips, weighted push ups, medicine ball chest throws, etc.
As I say, this will very much depend on the time you have available to you and your powers of recovery.
Change Your Workout Split
I’ve spoken above of having a specific specialization day for one of the push-based exercises.
Well, in reality this was more about focusing heavily on one of the target muscle groups, i.e. the pecs.
However, what happens if you’re not particularly specializing in one area and you don’t specifically have time to be adding lots of high-volume work?
If this is the case then you’ll probably need to change your workout split.
In fact, you may even need to change your training to a format that is less conventional.
I know that I’ve definitely done this before.
So, let’s imagine you only have 4 days a week to train, and no longer than 45-50 minutes per session.
This is probably actually quite standard for many of us.
And you can certainly get into fantastic shape with a workout split like this.
The immediate obvious choice would be to follow an upper body/lower body split, so you hit both protocols twice a week.
This way you could overhead press on one upper body day and bench press on the other.
Obviously, these specific training days would also include pull-based exercises like bent-over rows and pull ups.
However, that’s fine, as these won’t interfere with your pressing movements.
Something else to consider, and a training protocol that I have followed myself was to pick specific exercises that I really wanted to do.
So, I would pick 12 exercises:
- Barbell Back Squat
- Bench Press
- Overhead Press
- Bent-Over Row
- Romanian Deadlift
- Front Squat
- Power Clean
- Pull Ups
- Barbell Biceps Curl
I would then split these between my four days by performing 3 exercises per workout.
Plus, there’s enough variety that I could do this without impacting on another exercise during my workout or even on the next day’s training.
For me, this would typically involve training Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday.
The Best Science-Based Workout Split to Maximise Growth
As far as I’m concerned I see absolutely no problem with training overhead press and bench press on the same day.
However, I totally understand that one exercise can have an impact on the other.
One thing I haven’t mentioned is that if you are simply performing overhead press and bench press as your push workout, you can simply alternate between which one you do first in subsequent workouts.
Admittedly, from week-to-week, the exercise you do second may suffer slightly, but this still means that you are hitting both movements during each push-based workout.
That being said, you can of course follow my system of varying the intensity on different days, or even having one particular specialization day for the movement you wish to focus on more.
Plus, let’s not forget that you can of course change your workout split completely.
Next, make sure you check out my article to discover whether there’s an ideal bench press to overhead press ratio.
Hi, I’m Partha, owner and founder of My Bodyweight Exercises. I am a Level 3 Personal Trainer and Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist through the Register of Exercise Professionals, United Kingdom. I have been a regular gym-goer since 2000 and coaching clients since 2012. My aim is to help you achieve your body composition goals.