Push Press Exercise Form Guide with Video & Pictures

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By Alex
Last updated on
Exercise NamePush Press
Primary MusclesShoulders
Secondary MusclesChestGlutesHamstringsQuadricepsTricepsUpper Back
FunctionStrength, Explosiveness
Required EquipmentBarbell, Power Rack
Optional EquipmentKnee Wraps, Wrist Wraps
Rep Range3-8
VariationsPower Clean and Push Press, Barbell Overhead Press
AlternativesClean and Jerk, Overhead Rack Lockout, Dumbbell Shoulder Press, Dumbbell One Arm Press

Push Press Instructions

Note: Pictures coming soon!

1. Starting Position

  • Use an overhand grip with hands shoulder width apart or slightly wider.
  • Unrack bar from power rack and step away from pins
  • Support bar against collar bone.
  • Assume a hip width stance.
  • Maintain a neutral spine during the movement.

2. Concentric Repetition

  • Flex knees to dip down to no further than a quarter squat position.
  • Extend knees to transfer momentum up; flex shoulders and extend elbows to drive bar overhead until elbows lock.

3. Midpoint

  • Pause for a moment to stick the lockout before going into the eccentric rep.

4. Eccentric Repetition

  • Flex elbows and extend shoulders to lower the bar to collar bone.
  • Absorb the force of the load by flexing knees into a quarter squat; extend knees to stand erect.

5. Repeat

  • Repeat for the remaining number of repetitions in the set.
  • I recommend staying between 3-8 reps since this is a power movement.

Common Push Press Errors to Avoid

Elbows down, behind barbellAt the bottom of the rep, your elbows should be up high, such that they are in front of the barbell.
Curved bar pathThe barbell should travel in a straight vertical line, up and down. Don’t move it around your head. Rather, move your head out of the way by retracting it and moving your torso back.
Bending torso/moving chest forwardKeep your torso upright at all times. Don’t let your chest come forward. People have a tendencies to lean forward with their torso when bending at the knees before executing the push press.

Push Press Tips

  1. Explode out of the bottom of the rep. Use the force generated from extending your legs and transfer it into the upward movement of the barbell. The extension of your legs should not be independent of the pressing motion. Rather, it should be a single, integrated and explosive motion.
  2. Use a wider grip if you can’t lower the bar to your collar bone. If you still feel undue shoulder strain even after widening your grip, then stay away from this exercise. Do a regular barbell or dumbbell overhead press with a limited range of motion instead.
  3. Squeeze glutes and keep abs tight to protect your lower back from injury. This prevents your lower back from entering a dangerous position.
  4. Wrists, shoulders, hips, knees and mid-foot should be aligned (approximately) when the bar is overhead in the lockout position. You can check this by taking a video of yourself doing the push press from the side.
  5. Your head should be slightly forwawrd in the lockout at the top of the rep. It may also be pointed slightly downward. This is how your body naturally balances itself when extending a weight overhead.

Is This Exercise Right for You?

This exercise is best for intermediates and advanced lifters.

Beginners should wait until they have more lifting experience before doing this exercise. Once you’re past the beginner stage, you will have a much greater potential to fully enjoy its benefits…

…While it wouldn’t be the end of the world if you perform this exercise as a beginner, it makes more sense to nail the technique of the most basic pressing exercise (the overhead press) before you move onto the push press. Otherwise, you would be learning the technique, and therefore your strength would be significantly hindered; thus defeating the purpose of using the exercise, which is to press maximal weight.

It may be smart to avoid the push press if you have, or have had, shoulder issues. Due to complexity of the shoulder joint and the rotator cuff, you it’s apparent that the shoulder is a high risk zone for injury.

So, pay extra attention to how your shoulders feel in order to prevent re-injury; if you feel pain, then reduce the weight, fix your technique or stop completely.

Alex from King of the Gym
Hey! My name is Alex and I'm the founder and author of King of the Gym. I've been lifting weights seriously since 2005 in high school when I started a home gym in my parents' basement. I started writing about fitness in 2009. Then, in 2014, I got into writing home gym equipment reviews and I haven't looked back. My current home gym is in my own house and it's constantly growing and evolving. My goal is to help you build the home gym of your dreams! Read more about me here.

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