4 Tips to Push Press More Weight

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by BEN CROOKSTON

4 Tips to Push Press More Weight
The push press is an incredible training tool for increasing upper body power and a large contributor to increasing bench press output. It’s a functional movement in the sense that if you ever need to shot put two infants at the same time from your shoulder directly to a ledge 10 feet up, there is probably a good dose of applicable skill transfer.

The Basics

What Does the Push Press Do?
The push press will likely be a staple in any proper strength and conditioning program as accessory work to the strict press, the bench press, and the jerk.
As noted above, the push press develops upper body power through recruitment of a large number of motor units. Basically, it does more work for our bods because it quite literally requires lots of muscles to execute. It’s a ground-based lift that requires coordination of an explosive lower body extension as well as violent vertical press overhead. In the push press, we’ll be able to load more weight onto the bar than the strict press, but not quite as much as a jerk.

How Often Should I Push Press?

The push press will likely be a staple in any proper strength and conditioning program as accessory work to the strict press, the bench press, and the jerk. Depending on application (are you playing a sport or just trying to look awesome?) we need to work upper body pressing strength a couple times a week and the push press should be cycled with regularity in these pressing elements.

Push Press 4 Points of Performance

Posture

Posture
When we set up for our push press, we should unrack the bar high and tight to our clavicle with our elbows just in front of the bar but pointed toward the ground. We shouldn’t be fully racked like a front squat, but rather with a more vertical forearm to create leverage under the bar. The torso should be upright and vertical throughout the entirety of the movement dip, weight on heels.

Dip

There are different cues and descriptions accounting for how to initiate the Push Press, but most often, this part is called the “Dip.” Effectively, we want to sink into our heels, bend our knees about 1-2 inches, and explode out of the bottom. To get athletes to move the bar faster and maintain the stretch reflex of our legs, I’m a fan of Mark Rippetoe’s description of this movement as a bounce vs. a dip. In short, don’t sink slowly or get into a squatty type of mentality. Simply “bounce” the knee and start accelerating that weight up!

Tempo

Speed wins in the push press. We’re not going to grind this lift out and you’re not going to see a slow tempo notation (or for that matter, any tempo notation) assigned to this lift. Bounce the knee, punch the weight, lock it out. PR.

Finish
To finish strong, we should seek to throw fists to ceiling and drive our chest forward and down.
I’ve seen a lot of push presses missed right near the end of the lift, and the reality is, this is too many. To finish strong, we should seek to throw fists to ceiling and drive our chest forward and down. Often this will be described as “putting our head through the window,” yet I’ve been more successful driving my chest forward than head. When athletes “put their head through the window,” I see many people putting their necks into a hyper flexed fashion and staring at the ground. No upside here. There is nothing on the ground worth looking at. Further, I don’t like the idea of putting my head through a window — I imagine there will be lots of blood and discomfort.

In sum:
  • Explosive hip & leg extension
  • Bar locked out over heels
  • Rib cage down in overhead position
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