The Sots Press is named after the Russian weightlifter Victor Sots. The sots press is a wide-grip, barbell neck press performed from the bottom squat position.
The sots press is used in weightlifting to improve overhead stability in this position. Especially with trainees who often drop it in this position, in which the barbell – LH for short – is cushioned and stabilized when snatching.
Some anecdotes about the Sots Press that I have heard from former Swedish national weightlifting coach Inge Johansson include that he has seen Victor Sots perform 170kg in the Sots Press at the Sweden Cup in Umeå in northern Sweden in 1983, how he benched for fun with weightlifter Antoliy Pisarenko. Sots bench pressed 230kg. An excellent example of the carryover of a stable shoulder girdle and high strength in the overhead position (via 170kg sots press) for the bench press.
Swedish weightlifters trained by Inge Johansson also use the sots press in their training. Mikael Persson managed 5 reps with 160kg, Leif Nilsson was able to do 3 reps with 170kg.
In Inge Johansson's view, a weightlifter should be able to do the sots press at 85% of their snatch best for optimal muscular balance of shoulder girdle strength and posterior chain strength.
My favorite variation is the Sots Press with a shoulder-width grip. Full range of motion is key - fully extending the elbows at the top and allowing full rotation of the scapula. To optimize the sots press, I use a progression from seated Lh neck presses, through heel elevated sots press variants as shown in the photo above, to the classic sots press. An article of this progression will follow in the coming weeks.
The primary difference between a wide grip, typically used by weightlifters specifically for snatching, and a narrow/shoulder-width grip is that the narrower grip variant requires even better thoracic spine mobility.
Thoracic mobility is critical to performing the sots press because it determines how far the arms can extend vertically overhead when the exerciser is in the deep squat position. Unlike the seated or standing LH neck press, the Sots Press does not compensate for a lack of mobility in the thoracic spine by leaning back and hyperextending the lumbar spine.
Here's an example from Thomas Dybdahl of Aarhus, Denmark, doing the Sots Press with a shoulder-width grip and heels elevated at 87.5kg for 2 reps.
The sots press is generally performed from the neck since this starting position requires more mobility in the shoulder girdle and thoracic spine and thus has a greater carryover for strength building specific to weightlifting and a stronger shoulder girdle in general.
The sots press is therefore also an excellent indicator of mobility and stability in the shoulder girdle.
Here's an example of how LH neck presses and the sots press can be incorporated into a workout.
A1 LH Neck Press, standing, 5×2-4 reps, 4010 tempo, 120s rest
A2 Sots Press, shoulder-width grip, 2s overhead rest, 5×2-4 reps, 4012 tempo, 120s rest
B1 Trap 3 Lift, bent over, one arm, 3×6-8 revs, 2012 tempo, 100s rest
B2 Row, seated, with rope, to the neck, pronated, 3×6-8 revs, 3011 tempo, 100s rest
Progression in these exercises will improve your shoulder stability and mobility, which among other things will allow you to use more weight on the bench press.
Good luck with training & mobilizing your shoulder girdle with the Sots Press!
Image: Personal trainer and YPSI Online client Thomas Dybdahl from Aarhus, Denmark, in the lowest position Sots Press with a shoulder-width grip and raised heels.