Push press

Nothing is quite as exhilarating as performing a powerful squat or deadlift with flawless execution. As many of you know, any feelings of anxiousness and fear that creep into your mind before a big lift or grueling set are usually forgotten and replaced with thoughts of accomplishment and fatigue on the way home from the gym.

This week, we analyze an exercise that’s popular among strength and power athletes who know the kind of whole-body results this move can summon. From your legs up through your low back, chest, shoulders and triceps, the push-press is a standing barbell exercise that – when done correctly – can be a substantial addition to your powerful repertoire of love-to-hate compound movements. So chew up the butterflies, swallow your fear and lift with the big boys.

How to: Push-Press

  • Rack the barbell at shoulder height in a squat rack.
  • Grasp the bar using a wide, overhand grip. Wrap your thumbs around the bar for safety.
  • Step under the bar and place it across your upper traps.
  • Slowly walk out a couple of steps in front of the squat rack.
  • Raising your chest high, take a deep breath and tighten your abs.
  • Dip your body straight down about 10-12 inches by bending slightly at your ankles, knees and hips.
  • Powerfully drive through your legs and calves as you explosively thrust the bar straight up to an overhead position. During the movement, keep your body straight and your core tight.
  • Lower the bar to your traps, simultaneously absorbing the weight by bending your legs and hips as you “catch” the bar with your body. Quickly return to the start position, steady the bar, then repeat for reps.

Push press 2

When to Push-Press

Perform the push-press as the first exercise in your shoulder workout, or incorporate it as one of four multijoint moves in a separate workout done 1-2 times a week. Use a load that represents 80% of your one-rep max (1RM).

Push-Press Tips

  • The push-press can also be performed from the front, where the bar sits at the top of the chest and front delts in the start position. However, if you lack flexibility in your lower back and have difficulty with balance on the exercise, performing it from the front might feel too awkward.
  • When doing the push-press from behind, the bar sits across the top of your traps, which is in line with your natural center of gravity and therefore makes this version feel a little more natural. Try both variations to determine which one works best for your body, then work it into your weekly routine.

The Workout

Exercise Sets Reps Intensity
Squat 4 3-6 80% 1RM
Deadlift 4 3-6 80% 1RM
Hang Clean 4 3-6 80% 1RM
Push-Press 4 3-6 80% 1RM