Exercise Profile
  • Target Muscle Group
  • Exercise TypeStrength
  • Equipment RequiredBarbell
  • MechanicsCompound
  • Force TypePush (Bilateral)
  • Experience LevelBeginner
  • Secondary Muscles
    Abs, Traps, Triceps
Target Muscle Group


Shoulders Muscle Anatomy Diagram

Push Press Overview

The push press is an explosive variation of the overhead press. It is used to target the muscles of the shoulders, but also indirectly targets the core, traps, and triceps.

By utilizing a little extra leg drive, as seen in the push press, you should be able to overhead press slightly more weight than you could in the traditional variation. This is an excellent exercise to train the shoulders to have more power and explosiveness.

Push Press Instructions

  1. Adjust the barbell to just below shoulder height then load the desired weight onto the bar.
  2. Assume a shoulder width stance and place your hands at (or just outside of) shoulder width with a pronated grip on the bar.
  3. Step underneath the bar and unrack it while keeping the spine in a neutral position.
  4. Take two steps back, inhale, brace, and tuck the chin to prepare to go overhead.
  5. Dip slightly at the knees and hips, then press the bar to lockout overhead by extending your legs and arms simultaneously.
  6. Exhale once the bar gets to lockout and reverse the movement slowly while controlling the bar back to your chest.
  7. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Push Press Tips

  1. Reach tall at the top and don’t worry about keeping the shoulders packed down and back.
  2. Allow the elbows to rotate and point outward at the top of the movement but tuck them tight to the ribcage at the bottom.
  3. Fight to control the bar from rolling your wrists into extension and think about “rolling your knuckles toward the ceiling.”
  4. Squeeze your glutes and brace your abs as you press. You shouldn’t be leaning back excessively as you press.
  5. Imagine you’re trying to look out a window at the top, your ears should be in line with your biceps.
  6. If your shoulders are bothering you during the movement, consider experimenting with a wider grip or utilizing some of the vertical pressing progressions listed on the site.
  7. You can use a staggered stance to prevent the lower back from arching excessively but if you still can’t control the anterior core then consider using a half kneeling regression.