The push press is a beast of a move for shoulder day at the gym—but it's not just a great exercise for your shoulders. Think of it as a total-body movement that engages a variety of muscle groups, bringing your hips and legs into the equation to harness power as you drive the weight. This can be especially helpful for athletes, who need to recruit their lower body muscles to produce force for powerful movements like jumping.
“Yes, we get to blast our shoulders, but we're also learning how to use lower body and hip power to propel a weight overhead leading to even more athletic carryover than you may expect,” says Men’s Health fitness director Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S.
Watch Samuel guide us through the exercise (along with a kettlebell variation) in the video above.
How to Do the Push Press
●Start in a standard military press position, holding a barbell in both hands.
●Then dip your hips and knees slightly and explode upwards, even possibly rising onto your toes.
●Use that upward energy to help propel the weight overhead. Make sure you keep your abs and glutes tight as you do this. It's going to help you transfer that lower body force and prevent you from arching your back. "It's tempting to want to arch your back but contracting your abs will help you fight that," says Samuel.
Don’t be afraid to train heavy with the push press—you'll be able to work with more load than movements like the military press thanks to the lower body power you’ll have assisting you.
If you struggle with the standard barbell (or if you want to mix up your workout or press with one arm at a time), give kettlebells a try. “Push-pressing with kettlebells will actually feel more natural and be safer for your shoulders because they're in the more favorable position of external rotation,” says Samuel. Whether you use a barbell or kettlebells, aim for low reps—think three sets of six to eight reps at most—so you can really load up the weight.
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