The classic Sots Press is a behind-the-neck press with a snatch (very wide) grip in the bottom position of a squat with flat heels. It is an assistance exercise popularized by Russian weightlifters to increase the ability to stabilize the barbell in the bottom position of the full snatch.
It is named after Russian weightlifter Victor Sots who was known to use 170kg.
The classic Sots Press has a carryover to weightlifting. I primarily use a modified version of it for a different purpose. This modified version of the Sots Press is a behind-the-neck press in the bottom position of the squat with a shoulder width grip and heels 15cm elevated.
The purpose of the Modified Sots Press
The purpose of the Modified Sots Press is to improve extension of the thoracic spine. Improving the thoracic extension is a challenge to basically every single client and athlete I see. And I use a hierarchy of exercises to continuously improve thoracic extension through training. And the Modified Sots Press is in the mid-range of that hierarchy
While mobility drills for the same purpose use up a lot of time with minimal sustainable progress and manual therapy and chiropractic adjusting being great yet often not available, the Modified Sots Press forces the thoracic spine to extend and the load teaches the system to maintain this gain longer
The mechanics of the Modified Sots Press
The mechanics are what makes this variation great. Technically all behind-the-neck press variation will improve the thoracic extension to some degree. Still compensating for the lack of thoracic extension by lumbar extension is very common. When I put someone in the bottom of the squat, the high level of flexion in the hip will eliminate the ability to compensate with lumbar extension and therefore force the thoracic spine to extend
The highly elevated heels will eliminate the ankle mobility as a factor. Can this done with flat heels, too? Yes. Yet, outstanding mobility in ankles and thoracic are needed to do so. Which almost no one has. So I eliminate the ankle from the equation and fully focus on the improvement of the thoracic extension with this variation of the Sots Press.
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