Push Press Tips & Technique

“You don’t have much when it comes to shoulders, do you?”

My girl friend made this statement one evening when we were at dinner some two years ago.

“Shoulders? I never really thought about it, dear” I replied.

She put down her glass of wine and said, “Just look around you. Look at the other guys in this room. Notice their big, muscular shoulders. They seem to be busting out of their coats.”

I didn’t have to look around. I knew she was right.

“Well,” I said, “I am what I am.”

“Why don’t you do something about it?” she said.

“Maybe I like my shoulders the way they are.”

“Okay,” she said, “forget I mentioned it.”

My Mirror Kept Reminding Me That I Needed Help

As the days went by, however, I found I couldn’t forget it. Every time I looked in the mirror, I didn’t like what I saw. No shoulders, for sure.

At work one day, I finally went to my boss, who was tough as nails with a hunk of a body, and I asked to have a short meeting with him briefly in his office.

“What’s on your mind?” he asked. “Don’t ask for a raise, ‘cause the company is really tightening up.”

“No, boss. It is something else.”

“Well, tell me. I’m a busy man.”

I promptly shared with him what had been bothering me every since my girl friend made that statement about my shoulders.

He almost fell in the floor he was laughing so hard.

“Maybe you need a new girl friend,” he finally said.

“I thought you might suggest something else, boss. I’m serious.”

He took a deep breath.

“Okay,” he said. “I have a friend Gus who owns a gym over on Second Avenue. I train there a lot. Tell him I sent you.”

Well, let me tell you, neighbor, from day one, thanks to this guy Gus, I really took to this gym thing.

“You do need help,” were the first words Gus said to me when I told him what I wanted. “I’m surprised your girl didn’t give you the axe long ago.”

Weight Lifting Brought a Big Change in My Life

Gus took me under his wing. He was tough, but put me on this weight-lifting program that changed my life. You should see the before and after photos of me. You wouldn’t believe it. I’m a different man.

• Everyone, including my boss, looks at me with more respect.
• I now am on the pay roll as an assistant to Gus at the gym and have become one of his most sought after weight lifting trainers.
• I have won numerous trophies, taking first place in several state and national body building events.
• I have become an expert in the push press and its techniques.

The push press movement is what I want to talk about.

A lot of you who are into weightlifting may have not yet been introduced to the push press. You may feel the strict shoulder press and the full-fledged push-jerk are sufficient for you.

Here’s what you might not know about the push press:

• It is not like the strict shoulder press nor the push-jerk. It demands that the upper arms be in a position like the arms stance utilized in a front squat.
• It builds a trunk that is stable and strong while, at the same time, emphasizing mobility needs.
• It administers to the rotator cuff and hardens your abs as you keep the weight at an above-the-head position.
• It is an efficient method to train for over-the-head loads, but in a strength fulfilling format.
• It permits you to lift more poundage than the strict shoulder press.
• It is simple and not as hard to develop as the full-fledged press-jerk.

Strength Gained in the Push Press, Relates to Bench Pressing

One of the first things I learned from Gus was that when you gain more strength in the push press, it relates directly to what you can lift when bench pressing.

“Believe me,” Gus kept telling me, “the push press is what you’ll adopt if you ever have to push a heavy bag or suitcase into an overhead locker.”

What I would like to do now is give you instructions on how to do the push press so that you also will know the benefits of this valuable weight-lifting technique.

You should always begin by placing your feet shoulder-width apart, gripping the bar with the tips of your fingers. Point your elbows forward.

Keep your spinal cord in a neutral arch from the beginning to the end of the movement.

Next, rest the bar on the front of your shoulders.

Then, drop into a comfortable light squat, putting your weight under the barbell.

Now, while on your heels, press upward.

Next, push the bar over your head until your arms are straight.

Finally, move the bar to your chest and return.

Here Are Some Tips to Help You Avoid Mistakes:

The push press requires a different grip than the one used with the strict press. Instead of the thumbless grip, you will need to wrap your thumbs around the bar.

Your grip should be kept somewhat in the narrow range and your forearms perpendicular beneath the bar.

Grasp the bar hard. To activate your muscles, it is recommended that you squeeze the bar before you lift.

Some new to weights seem to squat too low. This is probably the biggest mistake most beginners make. You only need to squat as far as it takes to allow you to explode up and into the movement.

Bend the knees just a little and then stand up as quickly and powerfully as possible. If you are lifting smaller, lighter weights, you will find they are enough to send the bar up without any intended over pressing from you.

Once you’ve have mastered the movements, increase the the weights and push them high and skyward.

You might want to attempt other, more difficult movements to test those frontal shoulders even more. Here’s what I suggest:

1. Dumbbell Push Press

Basically, your movement doesn’t change in this exercise. It is more of a challenge and is tougher because you have to modify the same weight in each hand.

This is good since it makes it better at building muscles in a more balanced manner.

Here’s how you do it:

Take a normal stance with your feet shoulder-width apart. Hold a dumbbell over each shoulder with palms facing forwards.

Stoop into a light squat and then push up through your shoulders, pushing the weights over your head as you go.

Complete the movement by extending your arms and returning to the start.

2. Shoulder Press

This is the most difficult of all the push presses. It does not permit you to use your legs to force the weights upward. No, it’s all in shoulder strength.

Here’s how you do it:

Again, begin with your feet shoulder-width apart. Hold a barbell against the upper part of your chest. Your palms should be facing forward.

Press up powerfully until your arms are fully extended.

Carefully return to the start.

3. Military Press

The military press builds upper-body strength, conditions the rotator cuff and works your abs as you hold the weight in the overhead position.

In this shoulder-building exercise, your feet are together, which means you have to use your trunk more to keep the movement stable.

It’s the hardest of the movements because you have no leg force and a less stable base from which to push.

I still remember what Gus told me the first time I tried the military press: “Reduce the weight and don’t let your ego tell you otherwise.”

Here is what you do:

Keep feet together in a firm stance.

At the chest is where you want to hold the barbells. Keep your hands just no more than shoulder-width apart.

Tighten those glutes and central muscles so you don’t go soft in the midsection.

Press the bar above your head,

Push the head forwards as you extend your arms for a full span of motion.

Bring the barbell down, slowly allowing your head to move back as you return to the starting position.

4. Arnold Press

This movement is the Arnold Schwarzenegger favorite and is even named after the Austrian strong man. It is an exercise that includes a lateral movement.

Here’s what you do:

You can sit or stand. Keep the dumbbells in proximity of your face, making certain your palms face you and your arms are parallel with the floor.

Rotating your shoulders, move your arms to the sides so that your palms are now facing in a forward direction.

Continue the exercise by pressing the weights overhead until arms straighten out and your biceps are near your ears.

End it by reversing the move and returning to the beginning.

By the way, I was training a group in the ins and outs of the push press one day last week and was asked about by girl friend.

“I really don’t know where she is now,” I said. “Maybe she’s with a another weakling who will stumble in here someday and become a champion weight lifter like myself.”

It got lots of laughs.

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