Workout Tips

5 Reasons Your Push Press Sucks

Odds are you’ve been missing out on the full benefits of this power builder.

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Push Press
Edgar Artiga

The push press allows you to use leg drive, when pressing, to build a powerful upper body. A little lower-body English means you can add more weight on the bar than you could if you were to perform a standard military press. Of course, more weight on the bar translates to a greater muscular response. Unfortunately, most people don’t do it often because it’s difficult to learn, and when they do, well, their form is far from ideal. Here are five reasons you might be struggling with the movement and how to correct it.

1. Your knees shoot forward

If your knees shoot forward when you dip down, then there’s a good chance your hips aren’t dropping straight down to transfer maximal force. Instead, push your knees outward on the dip, as you would with a squat, to better use your power.

 2. Your bar placement is wrong

Ideally, the bar should be resting on your shoulders and clavicle—not too far forward and not pressed up against your neck. This lines the weight up with your hips so that when you press, you can transfer all your force in one straight line. 

3. You’re not breathing properly

Breathing sounds simple enough, but a lot of people—both newbies and pros—screw 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 this process for every rep.

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 deltoid and six inches outside it. Any wider and your leverage will be weakened. Any closer and your elbows won’t be in the right position to help you drive the weight overhead.

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 movement, 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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