Sport Workouts

Push Press | Perfect execution and muscles involved

Push Press | Perfect execution and muscles involved

by in Sport - Workouts

last updated: April 08, 2020

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Let's deepen the push press execution, an exercise that involves different muscles and joints both in the upper and lower body.

The Push Press is an excellent exercise for the upper body but, given its general systemic impact, it will also partially involve the lower body. The execution of this motor scheme allows a fairly complete involvement of the body which, in general, will allow making the most of it both in terms of strength and hypertrophy improvement and in terms of cardiovascular boost.


In this article we will, first of all, see how to perform it at its best, we will try to understand what are the cornerstones of a complete and precise execution. We will then analyze the different districts involved and, finally, we will try to understand how to best insert it in our programming.

Push Press: joints and muscles involved

push press


The Push Press is a variant of Military press, a vertical push exercise (push up) done with the barbell. It is composed of two distinct movements. An upward push movement with the arms and an assistive push movement with the legs. So the main joints to be involved are:

  • The shoulder (in the abduction of the humerus above 90 °)
  • The scapula (in extra-rotation)
  • The elbow (in extension)
  • The knees (in extension).
  • The districts mainly involved are the shoulders and triceps with a reduced involvement of the quadriceps.

In stabilization, we see the gluteus and lumbar (in general all the spinal erectors) and the abdomen to stabilize the position of the trunk. Already from this description, we can understand how complex and general this movement is. A strongly systemic motor pattern that allows us to activate the body with an extremely wide and strong metabolic input response.

Push Press: the perfect execution

Let us now see what is the executive request to carry out such a movement. We understand, in other words, how best to do the push press.


First, we will have to put the barbell on the rack, detach it and place it on the clavicle bundles of the pectoralis major. The grip must be prone, slightly wider than the shoulders (however, seek your comfort in this). The first part of the movement involves very small squatting. Drop ¼ of ROM or less of a squat. The squatting must not be overwhelming, always try to give more emphasis to the work of the Upper Body. Once you get off, explode high with your legs. This movement will give your body and barbell an inertia force and assist you in bringing the barbell over your neck by extending your elbows.

In this movement, it will be essential to work also at the spinal level. Gently arch your back at the beginning of the push to support the barbell and, as soon as it goes beyond the nape of the neck, "enter" with your head in, coming under the barbell. In this way, you will involve the core in full (you understand its importance now). The initial position, however, will lead to an involvement, in the first section of ROM, of the clavicle bundles of the pectoralis major. For this reason, it is essential to control the scapular setting and seek a systemic and synergistic movement!


In the Push Press, it is expected to arrive in articular Lock-Out at the top. Hold the position for a moment then accompany the barbell to the initial position. Watch out for this phase, the eccentric one. You don't have to drop the bar forcefully around your neck but always maintain maximum execution control. So fast but controlled.

Push Press: how to insert it in our programming

Let us now understand how to insert this exercise into our programming. Analyzing the movement, it is mainly a push-up exercise. For this reason, the insertion logic of the exercise should be based on contextualizing it within a Push day or a workout for the shoulders or, again, for the chest. Let's see the differences.

  • Push day. A push day in general. In this case, the focus of the session will be on all the push exercises (vertical and horizontal). So the main target district is the chest but also an involvement of the triceps and anterior deltoid is sought. In this perspective, the Push Press lends itself very well as a Mother exercise (first compound of the session) or as a mechanical exercise to be inserted later. Both solutions are optimal.
  • Chest day. Here the idea is to exploit the Push Press to better involve the collarbone bundles of the pectoralis major. We can, therefore, insert the Push Press as the second or third compound of the session (we leave a more directed exercise towards the pectoralis major as the first compound).
  • Shoulders Day. In this case, the focus is on the shoulders, logically the Push Press lends itself as an excellent seat starter or, in any case, as a first compound. Being very heavy it is not convenient for us to move it afterward but to exploit it from the beginning, trying to give our best!

Another possible use of the Push Press (but mind you, our execution must be impeccable) is that which sees it performed in a cardiovascular circuit. We can, therefore, load a little and perform as many repetitions as possible in a certain amount of time (for example max reps in 5 '). The resulting metabolic boost will certainly be a very valuable aid in the aim of burning fat and improving insulin sensitivity.


As we have seen, the Push Press is a very versatile and equally important exercise, to take full advantage of it, we will have to work on what is our ability to perform, improve the shape, make it our own and thus push to the maximum. We reason, we understand its value and, only after, we are going to insert it in our protocol, thus being able to appreciate its maximum effectiveness!


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