How to Do a Push Press

Step-by-step Instructions

Here is what you need to do...
Step 1

Before you start any shoulder exercises it is important to adequately warm up and stretch your shoulders. Also when doing heavy overhead presses it is important to stretch your wrists and warm them up as well because a lot of the force from the bar is placed on your hands and wrists. You should also warm up your legs briefly because they are utilized in the push press. The push press is a combination of leg drive and shoulder pressing with the barbell.

Step 2

Alright, first you need to approach the bar at shoulder height. You should place your hands on the bar about shoulder width apart, or somewhere close to that which feels comfortable for you. Next you need to unrack (take the bar off the rack) the bar and step back a few feet. This is the resting spot for the bar. It will be held by both hands with your wrists bent, and slightly resting across your upper chest and collarbone. Do not let it all rest on your collarbone otherwise you could cause some damage.

Step 3

The initial part of the movement begins with a slight bend of the knees, not quite a 45 degree bend. Imagine doing a slight squat with the bar still being held in your hands across your collarbone. The key with the half squat is to keep your feet flat across the ground so you can maximize your power when you explode up. Once you dip down with your knees bent about 45 degrees, you will then explode up locking out your legs.

Step 4

As you are exploding up with your legs and about to be at full extension then you will begin to push the bar upwards with your arms. As you are pushing up with your arms keep your legs locked out and feet flat on the ground to maintain to power drive of your legs. Once your arms are almost fully extended you will then push your head forwards and through the opening of your arms. Almost imagine pushing your arms slightly back and your head forward. This allows yourself to keep your center of gravity stable, maximize your reach, and allow for the greatest amount of strength in the movement.

Step 5

Lastly after locking out your arms you can now slowly return to the bar back to the beginning position of resting above the collarbone. Be sure to lower the bar slowly and as it is approaching the resting position I would recommend slightly bending your legs to avoid the stress and pressure of the weight crushing down on your body. Bending the legs allows them to act as a shock and safely support the weight. You have now complete one full rep of the push press.

Special Attention

Difficulties people often experience or parts that need special attention to do it right.

Flexibility, core strength, technique

Stuff You'll Need

Brand Product Price
Weightlifting Belt $17.61
Wrist Wraps $12.00
Workout shoes and apparel No Price

Suggested Further Reading

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This Student Author's Background

Funny or interesting story about this topic...

Over the years of using this exercise I have always had decent form, but I lacked the leg drive potential. I relied too heavily on my shoulder strength, which was well above most people. However, I was not fully utilizing my strength. Once I took the time to practice my form and use my legs more, my PR skyrocketed from what it previously was. If you feel your form is not where it should be, take time to practice with little or no weight.

When did you first do this & how did you get started?

I first began implementing the push press into my weekly workouts about five years ago. I began doing them during weightlifting for high school athletics and continued them afterwards once I began strength training and crossfit training on my own. The push press is an essential part of strength development.

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