Q&A with One-Arm Shoulder Pressing WSM World Record Holder (308lb): Dimitar Savatinov (2016)

Q&A with One-Arm Shoulder Pressing WSM World Record Holder (308lb): Dimitar Savatinov (2016)

Q&A with One-Arm Shoulder Pressing WSM World Record Holder (308lb): Dimitar Savatinov

Dimitar Savatinov

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.

I did my first contest when I was almost 29 years old and before I started strongman as a teen I did wrestling for 8 years along with just little amateur lifting in the gym. I don’t think there is a difference in strongman athletes and other sports.
If you wanna be the best you have to have the drive, the will and you have to be obsessed with what you do to get to the top of anything, not only in sports!


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.

I’m also looking to pull 970lbs(440 kg deadlift because I nearly missed at Arnold Strongman in South Africa.

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?

I just got 1 main trice exercise I do and it’s close grip bench, everything else I do for triceps is just assistance work to pump some blood in. For me to get stronger in any part of the body, the 5-6 rep range with high percentage is the best way, its been working ok for me so far.
 I always train 3 tricep exercises, close grip bench and 2 other with more reps and lighter weight.
 Tricep work is very important for all OH lifts, if you can’t lock it out then you are never gonna get a lift. I just try to keep things more simple this way works the best.


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.

For dumbbell presses in strongman the most important thing is to have the balance right with the implement and to place that DB in a way that the whole weight of the DB is to be helped by the legs so when you do the push you use all the power of your legs to start moving the DB.
Another very important is to have good technique because you will move more weight, it’s very simple to explain and understand that you use more muscles you will lift more weight. This is what techniques does and it makes you use more muscles to move weight easier and more efficiently. .


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?

I train vertical pressing 1 time a week and if I got DB press coming to a contest I might incorporate some one arm pressing depending on how I feel about the weight on the contest.


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?

For me personally the behind neck presses are waste of time for power and dangerous. Nobody does them in a contest either so for me is nonsense to perform this lift.


How much can you Military press x 1 vs Bench press x 1?

I really never train the strict military press, but I have tried a couple times and I’ve done 385 lbs(175 kg) for 3 reps. My best touch and go bench is 605 lbs 275 kg for 3 reps.


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?

I will go as high as 15 reps on OHP but it depends on what kind of contest is coming up, plus its good sometimes to drop the weights and do some volume work and muscle endurance.


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? 

I personally like to do rotator cuff work, I think it keeps my shoulders healthier from all the heavy lifting.


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?

 I’ve never trained for crucifix holds, never competed on one and so I really can’t say anything about it.

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?

The only rear delt work I ever do is on the reverse fly machine with light weight and more reps just to pump some blood in it. All the back work and heavy deadlifts I think cover the rear delts pretty good.


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?

For my lower back I just do my Deadlifts and heavy squats put some work on it also. As I earlier, I try to keep things very simple because I find that this is how things works the best for me.

Thank you for your time! If you want to see more of Dimitar then you could check him out at:



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