The Core Lifts – Push Press

This is the third in the series detailing our four “Core” lifts.  Today we break down the Push Press, also known as the Push Jerk.

push pressThe Push Press is an explosive lift as opposed to a power lift like the previous two core lifts (Bench and Squat) we have discussed.  Typically in explosive lifts the bar (and body) is moving at a faster speed than in power lifts where the movement is a little more controlled.  The Push Press will work primarily the Quads, and the Gastrocnemius with the Delts involved to a degree.  The Push Press differs from the Shoulder Press (or Military Press) in that the athlete will primarily use the legs in driving the bar up and overhead as opposed to using the Deltoids in the Shoulder Press.

The lifter will begin with the bar racked across the shoulders either in front or behind the head; we leave this (the bar position) up to the preference of the athlete, but stress the finish point will be the same.  The elbows will be slightly forward, gripping the bar just outside the shoulders.  The set up will be similar to the squat  – an athletic stance, feet about shoulder width apart, maybe slightly wider, toes straight ahead, maybe out slightly.  Good erect posture with head up and shoulders back.

The lift will begin with the athlete “dipping” by bending at the ankles, knees, and hips while keeping the torso upright and shoulders back.  The dip will be about ¼ depth of the squat.  We tell the athletes to dip down like they were going to execute a vertical jump.  With no pause at the bottom of the dip, the athlete will drive the bar explosively up by forcefully extending the hips and legs.  We tell them to try to get their feet off the floor.

After fully extending their legs, the lifter will then “dip” again and catch the bar with bent legs, while fully extending their arms overhead.  At the top of the lift the bar will travel slightly back, with the lifters head moving forward through the “window” that is formed with their arms being the side of the window and bar the top.  To finish, the athlete will stand or squat back to a fully erect position.

I tell the beginners that I can just listen and tell if they are doing the lift correctly.  The two things that I want to hear are:

  1. The lifters feet “stomping” the ground.  This tells me they are exploding with their lower  body and executing the second “dip
  2. The bar “rattling” at the top of the lift.  This tells me that the bar is moving quickly, explosively to the upright position.

We try to have two spotters, one on each end of the bar during the Push Press.  Their first job is to make sure the lifter is safe.  This takes on increased importance since we do push press outside of the racks because of limited height.  Their second job is to “catch” the weight (bar) at the top of the lift and let it back down to the starting position.  We do this because the athlete can drive up a lot more weight (they are using their legs) than their deltoids can support letting the weight down.

Below is a telestrated video examining a few of our athletes executing the Push Press.  The green checks and comments are what they are doing right (or mostly right) and the red are what they could improve on.

As always, if you have any questions, just email or comment.  I will respond!

Jeff Floyd –

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