Barbell Z-Press Exercise Form Guide with Video & Pictures
Barbell Z-Press Exercise Form

Barbell Z-Press Exercise Form Guide with Video & Pictures

Exercise Name

Barbell Z-Press

Also Called

Big Z Press, Zydrunas Press, Savickas Press

Primary Muscles

Secondary Muscles

Function

Strength

Mechanics

Compound

Force

Push

Required Equipment

Optional Equipment

Wrist Wraps, Weightlifting Belt, Chalk

Experience

Intermediate

Rep Range

3-10

0-0-x-1

Variations

Seated on Bench, One Arm Z Press, Dumbbell Z Press

Alternatives

Military Press, Push Press, Bradford Press

Instructions with Pictures

1. Starting Position

  • While seated on the floor and inside inside of a power rack, extend both legs flat on the ground and straight out in front of you, set up the safety arms of the rack in order to set a barbell somewhere between the top of the clavicles and level with your eyes.
  • Wedge your body under the bar with an actively braced and rigid posture.
  • Make sure your head and neck are held in a retracted position in order for the bar to clear.
  • Tuck the elbows and flare the lats to build a “shelf” to push off of.
  • Hands should be in the same position you use for a military press and a thumb over or a thumbless grip can be used.
Barbell Z-Press Starting Position - Front View

Start with the bar resting on the spotters, but create tension into the bar by making your core tight and rigid. Source for this and the following images: The Hungarian Experiment

Barbell Z-Press Starting Position - Side View

Here is the side view of the starting position. Note the elbows are directly under the wrists.

2. Concentric Movement

  • Drive through the palms of the hands, pushing the bar in a straight line overhead.
  • Once the bar clears the head, in one fluid motion, aggressively protract the head forward while flaring the elbows outward and over the shoulders.
  • While the elbows are extending, retract the shoulder blades and squeeze the bar tightly.
Barbell Z-Press Eccentric - Elbows In - Front View

Just after initiating the concentric -- Note the elbows are relatively "tucked" in.

Barbell Z-Press Eccentric - Elbows In - Side View

Side view of the Z-Press right after starting the concentric phase.

Barbell Z-Press Eccentric - Elbows Out - Front View

After the bar passes the head, you can begin to flare the elbows out as shown.

Barbell Z-Press Eccentric - Elbows Out - Side View

Flaring elbows after bar rises past head, shown from the side. Note that the head is also starting to come forward.

Barbell Z-Press Lockout - Front View

Full lockout shown from the front view. Elbows are locked and facing outward. Head is protracted forward to allow for this shoulder position.

Barbell Z-Press Lockout - Side View

Side view of the lockout. This shot really shows the proper head and shoulder position at the top of the rep.

3. Midpoint

  • Once the elbows are completely extended, allow time for the bar to settle and be motionless before moving on to the next phase of the lift.

4. Eccentric Movement

  • Initiate the downward movement with a slight elbow tuck while simultaneously driving the head back out of the path of the bar.
  • Return the bar to the start and let it settle before the next rep. DON'T BOUNCE IT OFF THE SAFETIES!
Barbell Z-Press Concentric - Elbows Out - Front View

As you begin lowering the weight, your elbows should still be flared before getting to you head as shown.

Barbell Z-Press Concentric - Elbows Out - Side View

Initial portion of the eccentric phase shown from the side.

Barbell Z-Press Concentric - Elbows In - Front View

Elbows tucked and head retracted as bar is lowered down in front of the face.

Barbell Z-Press Concentric - Elbows In - Side View

This side view highlights how the head must be fully retracted to allow the bar to pass safely in front of the face.

Barbell Z-Press Ending Position - Front View

As shown, you are back at the starting point upon completion of the eccentric phase of the rep. Note the bar is set down and allowed to come to a halt on the spotters.

Barbell Z-Press Ending Position - Side View

Ending (and starting) position shown from the side. Note how the head has come forward somewhat after the bar has passed the face.

5. Repeat

  • Repeat each rep from a “dead stop” on the safeties.

Common Barbell Z-Press Errors to Avoid

Mistake:

Solution:

Bouncing off the Safety Pins

Return the bar to the safeties and be sure the bar as completely settled before moving on to the next rep.

Extending the back

Actively brace the core by forcing the hips into a posterior pelvic tilt. This will ensure the shoulder and its mobility is doing the brunt of the work. It will also limit unnecessary extension.

​Pressing Away from the Body/Pressing in Front of the Body

Be sure to flare the elbows hard once the bar passes the head. Also protract the head forward at this point to keep the bar over the shoulder capsules.

Soft Lock Out/Incomplete Extension

At the lock out, try to imagine “pulling the bar in half.” This will set the shoulder further back and down in the capsule and create a more stable lockout.

Barbell Z-Press Tips

  1. Think SPEED. The bar is starting from a dead stop. You must generate as much force as you can in as short a time as possible.
  2. Actively squeeze the bar as tight as you can throughout the lift and imagine trying to “pull the bar in half” at the lockout.
  3. Keep the core actively braced and tilt the hips under your torso the keep trunk hyperextension to a minimum.
  4. Don't forget to flare the elbows and protract the head once the bar clears your body on the concentric phase. Similarly, tuck the elbows and retract the head during the eccentric phase.

Is the Barbell Z-Press Right for You?

The Barbell Z Press is a brutally humbling exercise. Even very strong, experienced pressers will struggle. Make sure you have excellent core stability, shoulder mobility, and hamstring flexibility before attempting this lift.

About the Author Alex

Hey! My name is Alex, and I'm the owner and author of King of the Gym. I started this website back in late 2009 during college, and it has been my pet project ever since. My goal is to help you learn proper weight training and nutrition principles so that you can get strong and build the physique of your dreams!

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