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


Shoulders Muscle Anatomy Diagram

Z Press Overview

The Z press is a seated variation of the overhead press that primarily targets the muscles of the shoulder.

The Z press is a variation used by predominately powerlifters and strongmen competitors to train the upper body to keep an upright position while pressing overhead.

It is also beneficial for bodybuilders to perform the Z press if they are looking to completely isolate the pushing muscles as it does completely take leg drive out of the pressing equation.

Z Press Instructions

  1. Adjust the safety pins to shoulder height while seated on the floor.
  2. Set the bar on the pins, load the desired weight, and sit directly beneath the bar with your legs straight and torso upright.
  3. Place your hands at (or just outside of) shoulder width with a pronated grip on the bar.
  4. Inhale, brace your abs, tuck your chin, and push the bar to lockout overhead.
  5. Exhale once the bar gets to lockout and reverse the movement slowly while controlling the bar back to the pins.
  6. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Z 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.