Want to put a ridiculous amount of weight overhead in a supreme display of athleticism? While many might equate this with the ever-so-popular bench press, I am in fact talking about the push-press. Regardless if you’re professional athlete or a recreational lifter, the push-press is prized for its ability to build full-body strength and core stability.
The push-press is closely related to the standing overhead press and the jerk. While the former focuses primarily on upper-body pressing strength, the latter requires a more dynamic execution, with the lifter using a forceful extension of the hips and legs to drive the bar upwards before ducking under the bar and catching it with straightened arms instead pf pressing it. Push-presses represent an even balance between the two.
There are two ways to perform the push-press: with cycling or non-cycling repetitions. With non-cycling repetitions, the lifter assumes the normal starting position after racking the bar upon completion of each individual repetition. Push-pressing with cycled repetitions will have the lifter utilise the momentum of the bar during its descent to create a “bounce” effect which carries over into subsequent repetitions.
Location and equipment courtesy of TripleFit
The differences between both approaches allows one to train different athletic qualities. Doing push-presses in a non-cycled fashion will allow for better development of upper-body strength, leg drive and have a better carryover to movements like jerks. Cycling your repetitions aids in the development of the stretch-shortening cycle and power output, which lends itself well to situations where you need to overcome a force (e.g. rugby forward).
Regardless of which variation you choose to go with, it is important to be conscious of your lower body’s contribution to the movement. The dip-and-drive segment of the push-press must be executed with speed and intent in order for the lift to be successful, especially once heavier loads are introduced. Done right, the momentum should be enough to bring you up on your toes.
Aside from building strength and power, push-press are also a great way to overload one’s shoulders and triceps while retaining a full range of motion, which can be great for muscular hypertrophy. Lowering it under control can also be done to drastically increase the time under tension; another great way to bust through training plateaus!