The Push Press is an explosive lift that is a derivative of the classic Olympic Lifts. It’s one of the best total-body exercises, developing lower-body power while building shoulder strength and size.
The exercise is a hybrid between a Push Jerk and an Overhead Press. It requires a triple extension of the hips, knees and ankles to drive the bar from your shoulders to over your head but with less power than needed for a Push Jerk, which relies almost entirely on the momentum created from the triple extension. You also need to use your shoulders in the Push Press but not quite as much as required to perform an Overhead Press.
In short, your lower body gets the bar moving, and your upper body finishes the rep.
The Push Press is relatively easy to perform and allows you to lift a heavier weight than you can in an Overhead Press thanks to the leg drive. It reinforces triple extension technique—an essential skill for sports performance—while building strength and improving other lifts, such as the Jerk or even the Bench Press.
Below, Cleveland-based strength coach Mike Anderson provides instructions for performing the Push Press. You can also watch the video above to see the lift in action.
How to Do the Push Push
Step 1: Position a barbell on a squat rack just below shoulder height. Assume a shoulder-width stance and hold the bar with your hands slightly wider than your shoulders. Your forearms should be directly under the bar with your elbows pointing toward the ground. Now brace your core, lift the bar off the rack and take a few small steps backward. If you don’t have a rack available, clean the bar up to your shoulders and adjust your arm position so your forearms are under the bar.
Step 2: Keeping your core tight, dip down slightly by bending your hips and knees. Immediately extend your hips, knees and ankles, and drive the barbell overhead. Push the barbell with your arms until your elbows are straight. Briefly hold the bar overhead.
Step 3: Lower the bar in control to the starting position. If it’s your final rep, step forward and place the bar on the rack or drop the bar to the ground if you’re using bumpers plates.
Push Press Form Mistakes
Mistake 1: Grinding out slow reps
This is not an Overhead Press. If you’re grinding out slow reps, then you’re either forgetting to use your lower body to create momentum, or you’re using a weight that’s too heavy.
Mistake 2: Using a clean grip
If you perform the Clean correctly, you will catch the bar with your elbows forward and your fingertips under the bar. However, this isn’t a good position to drive the bar overhead. So take a moment to readjust between the clean and jerk phases by dropping your elbows down and grasping the bar tightly with an overhand grip.
Mistake 3: Forgetting to tuck your chin
If you make this mistake, you will only make it once, and it will be an experience you won’t forget. Always remember to tuck your chin as if trying to give yourself a double chin before the Jerk.
Mistake 4: Tilting forward
Anderson explains there’s a tendency for lifters to hinge forward and rely too much on their hips. This makes it difficult to control the heavy barbell and can throw you off balance as shown when the lifter in the video demonstrates this mistake. So make sure that to keep your chest up and imagine your body going straight down as you bend your knees and hips, and straight up as you triple extend.
Mistake 5: Arching your lower back
One of the most common mistakes with any overhead exercise is arching lower back if you don’t have sufficient shoulder mobility. Focus on keeping your core tight and ribs down as the bar moves overhead. If you find this isn’t possible, take some extra time to improve your shoulder mobility before attempting this exercise.
Push Press Variations
Dumbbell Push Press
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Check out our in-depth article covering the Dumbbell Push Press.
Kettlebell Push Press
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Landmine Push Press
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