Olympic lifting coach Glenn Pendlay said it best: “Show me a guy who can push press a big weight and he’s going to be able to excel at any other pressing movement, even if he’s never done it before. The push press has more carryover to pressing in general than any other upper body exercise.”
Koklyaev Misha, 440 Pounds x 3
A big bench presser doesn’t get that same carryover according to Pendlay: “I don’t want to have 400-pound bench pressers who can’t do anything else. The guy who can do heavy push presses doesn’t have that problem. He’s strong at everything. And that can’t be done with the strict military press either. It’s too hard to get it moving. You have such a weak point at the start that it limits the amount of weight you can use.”
With a push press, you can put 10 to 20% more weight over your head. You’re forced to develop the ability to recruit those muscle fibers very quickly because you’re pushing the bar off your shoulders with your legs and then your arms have to come into play, fast, so it doesn’t stall. “The ability to do that is very, very valuable,” said Pendlay.
With the push press there’s just a huge overload at the top. That last six inches at the top is like doing a partial. That has a powerful effect on the body.
Do It Right
Pendlay’s tips for the push press:
- Rack the bar correctly. Most people rest it on their clavicles, but what you need to do is shrug your shoulders up, putting your elbows slightly forward so the bar is resting on the deltoids.
- After the leg drive, push immediately with your arms. Think rate of force production. At the top position it’s very important to end with the weight behind your head, not in front of it. At the very least, a vertical line dropped from the bar should pass behind the ears.
- Pause momentarily at the top, every rep.