One of the most common issues I see with the strict press is not engaging the core enough. This leads the athlete to lean back at the top of the press, putting extra strain on the lower back and increasing the risk of injury.
Here’s how a good strict press should break down:
Unrack the bar with purpose and get it in a solid front rack position.
Tighten your mid-line (core) and squeeze your glutes and quads even as you engage your upper body.
Recruit your entire upper body for a press, not just the shoulders. Engage your arms, upper back, and chest; a strict press requires everything to, well, press.
Keep the core stable and lock out the arms overhead. If you’re doing multiple reps, this should be your starting position. Bring the bar down quickly to touch your chest and press back up. Your body is primed with the weight coming down to press it away, so get ready. Pausing at the shoulders blocks momentum and, more importantly, can psyche you out when the going gets tough.
Don’t lean back. It may seem easier because you’re recruiting more of your chest (as in an incline bench press) but it is terrible for your back.