Push Press

  • Alternative Names: Barbell push press, bb push press
  • Type: Olympic weightlifting
  • Experience Level: Advanced
  • Equipment: Barbell
  • Muscles Targeted: Shoulders, triceps, abs, quads, glutes
  • Mechanics: Compound
  • Average Number of Sets: 4-5 with 5-6 reps each
  • Variations: Dumbbell, CrossFit, kettlebell, snatch, behind the neck, landmine, Arnold, machine, and Viking push presses
  • Alternative: Barbell shoulder press, military press

The push press is a full-body exercise commonly used for improving upper-body strength and developing bigger shoulders, primarily targeting the anterior head of your deltoids. It is easier to perform than the push jerk, and it allows you to lift heavier weights than the shoulder press. Moreover, it works your core and conditions rotator cuff while holding the barbell over your head.

Push Press Exercise Information

  • Alternative Names: Barbell push press, bb push press
  • Type: Olympic weightlifting
  • Experience Level: Advanced
  • Equipment: Barbell
  • Muscles Targeted: Shoulders, triceps, abs, quads, glutes
  • Mechanics: Compound
  • Average Number of Sets: 4-5 with 5-6 reps each
  • Variations: Dumbbell, CrossFit, kettlebell, snatch, behind the neck, landmine, Arnold, machine, and Viking push presses
  • Alternative: Barbell shoulder press, military press

Benefits

  • Easier to learn and program into your workout routine, as compared to other pressing exercises like the push jerk
  • Gives you strength and muscle mass without having to use a lifting platform
  • Helps you progress into more advanced overhead workouts like split jerks and bench presses
  • Improves coordination all over your body

Push Press Vs. Overhead Press

Push Press Overhead Press
Movements Involved Hip drive, push through the shoulders Push through the shoulders
Range of Motion Short Large
Weight Used More weight is lifted Lesser weight than push press

How to Push Press

Stand with a shoulder-width stance and grab a barbell (weighing about 80-160 lbs) hard with a pronated grip so that your thumbs are wrapped around the bar. Make sure to keep the grip moderately narrow and the forearms vertical under the barbell. Bring the bar to your shoulder level and rest it on the front of your shoulders. Slightly flex your hips and knees, while keeping your torso erect. Extend your knees and explosively push through your heels so that you drive the barbell above your head by fully extending your arms. Lower the weight back to your shoulders and slightly bend your hips and knees as the bar makes contact with your shoulders.

Barbell Push Press Tips

  • Squeeze the bar hard before the lift to activate the muscles more.
  • Do not squat too low. Descend slightly and drive up powerfully into the movement.
  • Avoid hyperextending your lower back while pressing the barbell at the top.

Variations

  1. Dumbbell Push Press: Performed by holding two dumbbells slightly outside your shoulders, keeping your arms bent.
  2. Kettlebell Push Press: Done by pressing one or two kettlebells over your head.
  3. Snatch Push Press: Performed by holding the barbell at the back of your neck with a snatch-width grip.
  4. Behind the Neck Push Press: Is similar to the basic push press except that you place the barbell behind your neck.
  5. Landmine Push Press: Performed by pressing one end of a barbell that is fixed into a stable landmine base on the other end.
  6. Arnold Push Press: Involves holding a pair of dumbbells with a supinated grip and then twisting them around while you press them up.
  7. Machine Push Press: Is similar to the traditional push press, but you do it standing in a Smith machine.
  8. Viking Push Press: Is a high-intensity, high-rep variation performed by quickly lifting a pair of heavy kettlebells over your head.

Alternative Exercises

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