What is a Push Press?

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  • Written By: Ryan Capizano
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 31 January 2020
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The push press is a resistance exercises which utilizes weight, most often in the form of a barbell, to develop upper body and core strength. Similar to the standard military press, a push press differs by also incorporating a spring from the athlete's legs. This exercise specifically targets the athlete's deltoids, hamstrings, core, chest and arm muscles. The end result for the athlete is increased explosive strength, balance and agility. Push press exercises are found in many strength competitions, CrossFit® workouts and in gyms around the world.

To set up for a push press, the athlete needs to assemble the barbell on a rack along with the required weight. Due to the fast movement of the exercise, it is essential to make sure the weight is secured with clamps to prevent injury. The athlete should remove the bar from the rack in the clean position, so the bar rests just above the pectoral muscles along the collarbone. Hands should grip the bar from underneath with hands positioned slightly more than shoulder width apart. Next, he should step back from the rack and ensure ample space is available, so in the event control is lost the weight may be safely dropped.


Once in position, the push press requires the athlete to make a small dip in the knees while keeping his core tight. The athlete then drives the bar straight up overhead and locks his shoulders in place. His head should move back to prevent catching his chin in the movement, then after the bar is locked above the head, he moves his head forward under the bar to complete the movement. After the upward thrust is complete, he simply reverses the motion by moving his head back, letting gravity lower the bar to its original position and maintaining a tight core.

The push press is a continuation of the standard military press and athletes should generally use about 30 percent more weight. Common mistakes often seen during the push press are arching of the back, lack of a tight core and dropping too far in the initial dip. It is essential that the athlete maintain a tight core and rigid back or he will increase the risk of injury. If the athlete is unable to maintain the proper technique, it is a tell-tale sign that too much weight is in use. The best way to improve technique and avoid injury is to consult an experienced personal trainer or coach.


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