The push press is an often-overlooked exercise that, if done correctly, can help build a ridiculously strong and balanced upper body. Compared with a standard military press, the leg drive used in this move also allows you to use more weight and get a greater muscular response. Unfortunately, most people don’t do it right. Here are five reasons you might be struggling with the exercise—and how to perfect your form.

Problem 1: Your Knees Shoot Forward

If your knees shoot forward when you dip, your hips may not drop straight down to transfer maximal force. Push your knees outward, as with a squat, to power back up.

Problem 2: Bar Placement is Wrong

The bar should rest on your shoulders and clavicle. This lines the weight up with your hips so that when you press, you can transfer your force upward in one straight line.


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Problem 3: You’re Not Breathing Properly

Breathing sounds simple, but a lot of people mess this up, which is a shame since proper breathing can add several reps to your set. Before you start the dip, take a big breath into your belly. Exhale at the top of the push press, then inhale again when the barbell descends to your shoulders. Repeat for every rep.

Problem 4: Your Grip Is Off

The proper grip can vary by a few inches from person to person, but the ideal range is between the start of your deltoids and six inches outside them. Any wider and your leverage will be weakened. Any closer and your elbows won’t be in the right position to drive the weight overhead.

Problem 5: You’re Not Catching the Weight

One thing new push pressers don’t think about is how to absorb the weight on the descent. When you become pretty strong at the move­ ment, and the weight begins to add up, you put your rotator cuff in danger when you slowly lower the weight down as you would with a military press. Instead, let the bar fall at a reasonable speed and bend your knees a bit so you dip about three inches. This will ensure that you catch the falling weight and absorb the load more efficiently.

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