How to Do a Push Press


The Push Press is a great exercise for building your core, functional (real world, usable) strength and extremely stable shoulders and rotator cuff. Learning how to do this exercise correctly can help you add some variety, intensity and a new twist to your current workouts.

What is a Push Press?

A Push Press looks just like a standing Overhead Shoulder Press but with the assistance of the legs. This makes it an excellent full body exercise. Typically a person can Push Press up to 30% more weight than they can handle with a strict overhead press. This does not mean that the form is sloppy and you throw the weight up, quite the contrary, you need BETTER form on a Push Press since there is more emphasis on movement and your core needs to be protected.

Setting up for a Push Press

Stance: You want to begin with a good solid stance. Since you are standing, you want to build a good foundation before picking up and holding weight. Stance should be with your feet directly under your shoulders, pointed straight ahead. Your legs are straight, no bend in the hips. Abs are tight.

Holding or “racking” the bar

You are holding the bar up under your chin, but the bar should be resting on your upper shoulders with your elbows slightly ahead of the bar. This is similar to how you would see someone holding the bar after an olympic clean or power clean but not quite as exaggerated. The key is the have the bar resting on a “groove” in each shoulder. An easy way to find this groove is to do what is called a Frankenstein position with your arms straight ahead place a broomstick across your shoulders until the broomstick finds a groove to sit in, now you know the place to “rack” or rest the bar.

So now you have the stance correct and you have the bar resting in the groove with your hands around the bar ready to begin the push press…

How to do the actual Push Press

The Push Press movement is initiated from the legs first. You dip down and quickly “pop” up to get the bar moving. The bar is resting in that groove so the power from the movement comes from the legs and is transferred up the torso to the bar. The arms are not involved yet.

The “dip” is done by keeping your torso completely straight up and down and bending just at the knees and slightly at the hips. You only need to come down about 10-20% as this is not a squat, just a dip. Its all you need to explosively push that bar upwards with your legs.

Now transfer the energy and finish with the arms

The dip is fast and explodes up getting the bar moving upwards off the shoulders now you should be concentrating on pushing with the arms to an overhead locked position. The chin should move back slightly to allow the bar to travel past. Once the bar is clear of your head you can push it back forward again. The bar should be travelling in a straight line with you getting out of the way of the bar. No wasted energy manipulating the bar, the weights are heavy enough that once you get the bar moving, you have to keep it moving.

Remember: the “dip” is quick, no stalling at the bottom. Think “down and pop!”

Once that bar has passed your head lock your arms with the weight fully overhead. Shoulders should be elevated and arms locked. This is called an Active Shoulder position.

The finished Push Press should have the bar overhead and an imaginary straight line from the weight to elbows, to ears, shoulders, hips, knees, and ankles all perpendicular to the ground. No swaying and no arching. This ensures your skeletal structure is holding the weight now and you are not “muscling” it.

Some Tips to Remember and Review:

1. Strong supported stance with the bar “racked” and ready to press

2. Dip quickly and explode up getting the bar moving

3. Tuck the chin slightly out of the way to allow the bar to pass while beginning to push upwards with the arms

4. Transfer the upwards movement by pushing the the arms more

5. Lock out the bar in the overhead position

The Push Press can be a fun addition to your strength training, functional exercise routine or just a new addition to circuit training. It has many uses that are not just for “power” or “muscle building” but also can burn a lot of calories and help you with real world applicable strength. Add this great exercise into your workouts for some a new way to keep things fresh and by learning something technical, useful and fun!

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Source by Nate Alexander