Q&A with One-Arm Shoulder Pressing WSM World Record Holder (308lb): Dimitar Savatinov (2016)
On Fitworld exposed, we like to talk a lot about how you need to bring up your shoulders with vertical presses if you are trying to get that enhanced look and strongman competitors hands down have some of the biggest and strongest shoulders on the planet. They exemplify how you don’t need a massive chest to look big either. They may not be the leanest athletes, but who cares? As far as sheer size and raw strength is concerned they are unmatched and in my opinion they are the most entertaining athletes to watch.
Today I had the amazing opportunity of talking with Dimitar Savatinov who is actually the world record holder in the dumbell circus press! He is the first man to ever shoulder press 308lb with one hand on camera which is really an amazing feat of strength because 99.9% of people can’t even press that kind of weight overhead with 2 hands!
This is why when you are trying to get good at anything you want to study the people who have mastered the craft that you desire if you really want to excel!
So without further ado, lets get into it!
What made you want to start competing in Strongman, how old were you when you started and did you play any sports before? What do you feel differentiates the strongmen from other athletes?
Watching WSM from 2007 or 2008, they had a safe lift with 275 lbs(125kg) and most guys were doing like 6-7 reps, and I decided the next day to go to the gym and try something similar. When I did I had hit 315lbs( 143kg) on the regular bar on overhead for 6 reps and I told myself that I could be at the top of the sport one day with what God give me. The 3-4 months later I found a contest promoted by Dionne (president of the American Strongman corporation) so I went there and started competing without ever even seeing strongman implements.
What are some of your goals for this year as far as lifts are concerned?
This year I realy will like to break the 2 dumbbell records. I put the max on the DB for reps, Max DB is 308 lbs140 kg, and the reps is 115 kg for 6 reps in a 60 sec.
How many days per week do you soft tissue work with foam rolling, lacrosse ball work along with stretching? Also how long do you usually do it for?
I don’t really do any of these things and if I do then it is very rare. I like to do deep tissue massages 1 time per week and if I have access to sauna I will do 4-5 times a week for 7-10 min.
What is an underrated technique tip on the push press that most people overlook that helped out your press by a lot?
I will say probably the biggest thing I see almost everywhere is when guys try to push press a Axle or barbell they hold it in their hands and while not resting it on chest/shoulders, they lose a lot of power this way.
Do you incorporate Z Presses into your program and if you do then what benefit have you gotten from them exactly? If you do incorporate them then at what height do you usually set the pins and why? Also tell us some common Z press mistakes that you tend to typically see?
I don’t do Z presses, I have my own exercises that I do to get my overhead lifts stronger.
Do you ever incorporate shoulder pressing rack lockouts (standing or seated) in order to increase your top half vertical pressing strength strength?
I’ve never done rack lock-outs to get my overhead stronger.
What are your top 3 favourite direct tricep exercises to do in order to help improve your lockout for your vertical pressing variations? What rep range do you also work with in these tricep exercises and how many direct tricep exercises do you typically include in your program when you are really trying to bring up your press? Also how essential is direct tricep work for building your overhead press?
Strongman competitors do a lot of One Arm DB shoulder push presses, what are some tricks/tips/cheats that you could give the viewers on how to use more weight on this exercise? A lot of people underestimate the weight that they could use on this lift because if you use your whole body properly while having your technique dialed in then you could move a lot more weight.
How many days per week will you do vertical pressing variations when trying to improve your vertical pressing strength? Also do you ever incorporate any one arm landmine presses into your programming?
Here is more of a bodybuilder question, whats your take on doing the behind the neck press for building bigger shoulders? Do you think that it is really that essential for bigger delts? Also do you find that they have a good carryover to strict press and what grip width do you usually use if you do them? Also how low do you usually bring the bar on behind the neck presses?
How much can you Military press x 1 vs Bench press x 1?
We all know that low reps are important for getting stronger, but so are high reps as well. What is the highest rep range that you ever go to for vertical presses and why?
Direct rotator cuff work is a controversial topic in the lifting world because some people say that its not necessary if you are doing a lot of work overhead while others say that they can’t do an upper body session without doing it, do you incorporate any?
Crucifix holds are a staple exercise in strongman events, do you find that they help your OHP strength and improve your side delt muscle development? Also what is the heaviest that you have ever done on crucifix holds and for how much time?
What exercises do you do for direct rear delt work and do you ever do any direct neck work? Also do you see any benefits in doing your direct rear delt work in a cheating motion or do you like to keep your reps smooth and controlled for the most part?
Strongmen need really strong lower backs to have a longer career especially with all of the stress they put it through with all of the vertical presses and deadlifts. How heavy do you go on direct lower back training, what rep ranges and exercises do you like to do on average?