The push press is step 2 of the press series. It builds on the same upper body mechanics of the shoulder press, while adding lower-body mechanics prior to the press.
Because the set-up and finish is the same as the shoulder press, I’ll only discuss the execution of the lift while pointing out common faults.
With the barbell resting on the torso, the athlete will flex their knees and hips. This is called the “dip” mechanic of the press. After descending 2-3 inches, the athlete will then extend the knee and hip (called the “drive”). Thus, the “dip and drive” mechanics of the press are what differentiates itself from the shoulder press
Notice that frames 3-6 are identical to the shoulder press (i.e. the feet are shoulder-width apart, the bar is resting above the collarbone, the heels stay on the ground throughout the entire lift, the barbell stays in the center of the foot, and the arms finish at extension).
When teaching new athletes the “dip and drive” mechanics of a push press, I often see three faults: The Forward Lean (A & B), the Muted Hip (C), and the Premature Press (D).
The forward lean happens most often, causing unnecessary pressure on the wrists. I usually tell my athletes to imagine as if their back were up against a wall. As they dip and drive with the knee and hips, they are not allowed to let any part of their back come off that wall.
You can see that the trainer in the image above uses a PVC pipe with a similar cue: “Don’t let your back come off of this.”
The muted hip function is an unathletic fault that causes a tremendous loss in power. Keeping with the wall imagery, your lower back and butt also need to maintain contact with the wall.
The loss of power in this fault comes from not flexing the hip. If the hip never flexes, it renders itself powerless to extend.
And finally, the premature press is exactly what the name suggests; pressing the bar too early with the shoulders. You must recognize that a push press allows your legs and hips to drive force into the barbell. If you don’t allow that transfer of energy from the ground go into the barbell (i.e. pressing the bar off your shoulders before you stand up all the way), you will be unsuccessful in your push press.
A great cue our coaching staff uses is to place their hand above an athlete’s head in the dip. Then, the athlete must make contact with the hand before pressing the barbell off of the shoulders.
What you will quickly realize is that the legs perform half of the lift for you. If you didn’t press at all with your arms, a forceful dip and drive should still push that barbell up to your nose.
Now, go practice your dip and drive!
5 Rounds For Time:
10 Right-Arm Dumbbell Snatches
10 Left-Arm Dumbbell Snatches
*Images used from here.