Pumped Up with the Push Press


The push press is an upper-body strengthening exercise where the athlete presses a barbell from shoulder-height to a locked-out position above head, and then lowers it back down to the shoulders. Similar to the strict press, the push press is considered a compound movement because it effectively works not only the shoulders, but also arms, back and core muscles as the athlete raises and lowers the barbell. However, unlike the strict press, the body does not remain static while the athlete pushes the barbell overhead. Instead, the push press relies on the athlete’s coordination as he/she bends the knees and then extends at the hip in order to gain momentum and power to push the barbell overhead with greater ease and efficiency. Athletes should feel the shoulders, triceps, back and core muscles activated as they complete the push press.

Watch the video clip below for a full explanation of technique, tips and tricks for performing the movement with efficiency, as well as precautions for staying safe.



  1. Set Up at Shoulder Height: Just as with the strict press, set up the j-hooks and barbell to be just below shoulder height as you stand in front of the rig. This will allow for you to easily get the barbell on and off of your shoulders before and after you perform the pressing movement.
  2. Thumbs Width Grip: To find a correct grip, place your hands about thumbs’ width off the smooth part of the knurling, or rougher patterned part, of the bar. Often you’ll see athletes put their hands too close together on the bar, which causes them to set up incorrectly with the athlete’s upper back slightly hunched forward. Keep hands a bit further apart with thumbs’ width from the knurling and you will be able to maintain a better position throughout the movement.
  3. Adjust the Front Rack: Whenever you do a push press, you want to start the movement with a front-rack position, meaning the bar is placed on the front of your shoulders. However, unlike a front-rack that we use for the front squat or other movements, your front rack position for the strict press should not have your elbows up and forward in front of the bar. Instead, just as with the strict press, you want your elbows beneath and slightly in front of the bar to create the best possible pressing position with your arms.
  4. Keep the Ribcage Down: To prevent your torso from breaking open as you press upward, focus on tightening your butt and abs. This will help keep your ribcage locked down so that you are in a safe position while pressing upward. If you allow your ribcage to open up and you lean back, the press will not be as efficient nor work the muscle groups as well as it should. Instead, it will look as though you’re doing a standing bench press and risk tweaking your back.
  5. Dip in the Knees: The push press is almost like the strict press, but requires a dip in the knees and extension of the hips to create more power for you to get the bar overhead. Once set up correctly, make a slight dip in the knees and then immediately extend your hips up and out as you press the bar upward. Think about squeezing your butt to help you open up all the way at the top. Timing is a key component of the movement, as the extension of the hips should move you right into pressing the barbell overhead as normal with a strict press.
  6. Biceps to Ear: As you press the barbell up, focus on keeping your biceps toward your ears so that the bar is directly overhead. To achieve this, tuck your chin as you push upward, so that the bar can travel in a straight line instead of having to move up and around your head. Once the barbell passes your head on its way to the top, punch your head forward. This will help keep your ribcage locked down and ensures the bar is traveling in a straight line.


QUESTIONS: Ready to get started, or curious to learn more about how Fierce Play can help you meet your health and wellness goals? Contact us for more information. Also feel free to check out more of our videos series to learn how to perform the basics with solid form and efficiency.


Fierce Play’s Barbell Olympic Lifting Series focuses on proper technique, as well as tips & tricks, to master some of the foundational movements that will be integrated into many of the workouts you will perform. Start your next workout with the confidence and skills to do the movement safely and effectively.