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Daniel Mesa

Barbell Push Press: How To & Benefits

barbell push press

Are you ready to get stronger in your upper body and change the way you train? The strict overhead press is still one of the best ways to build strength and muscle mass, but there’s another dynamic move that can help many trainees get even better results. The barbell push press is a new exercise that uses the power of your legs to move the barbell overhead, making it a good and efficient option.

In this detailed guide, we’ll go deep into the world of the push press to find out its unique benefits, the muscles it works, and the benefits it offers. We’ll give you helpful tips on technique and programming, and we’ll also look at variations and other options to meet different exercise goals. Take advantage of the push press’s many uses and see how it can change the way you train your upper body.

How To Do The Barbell Push Press

With the Barbell Push Press, you’ll be able to decide how much power you use. In this compound movement, you use your lower body strength to drive the barbell higher, working your shoulders and triceps at the same time. Follow these steps to make sure that the execution is right:

Starting Position

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and grip the barbell just outside your shoulders. Keep your elbows slightly bent and the bar resting on your collarbone.

Dip and Drive

Initiate the movement by bending your knees into a slight dip, then explosively extend your hips and knees to generate upward momentum.

Pressing Action

As you drive up, use the power from your lower body to push the barbell overhead. Fully extend your arms at the top, locking out your elbows.

Return to Starting Position

Lower the barbell back to your collarbone with controlled movement.

Our Tips For The Standing Barbell Push Press

Tip 1: Harness Leg Power

The key to a good push press is to use the huge amount of power in your lower body. As you start the action, keep in mind that your legs are the ones that really move you. You bend your knees a little bit and then explode up, using the force of your hip and knee extension to push the load overhead. This smart use of leg power not only lets you lift heavier weights but also takes some of the pressure off your upper body, making it easier to do a good push press.

Tip 2: Maintain Core Stability

A rock-solid core is a base that makes sure a push press goes smoothly and in control. Pull your belly button toward your spine to use your core muscles throughout the whole movement. This contact acts as a stabilizing force that stops your back from arching in an unnatural way and keeps your spine in a neutral position. By keeping your core muscles busy, you not only make the exercise safer but also make it easier for your legs to send force to your upper body.

Tip 3: Balanced Footwork

Mastering the push press means getting the balance just right. Pay close attention to where you put your feet during the dip and drive phase. Make sure that your weight is evenly spread between both feet so that you don’t favor one side. This balanced footwork gives you a stable base, which lets you use your leg power effectively and stops you from swaying or moving in ways that could make you lose control. By keeping your body in a well-balanced position, you set yourself up for a strong and effective push press.

Common Standing Push Press Mistakes To Avoid

Mistake 1: Neglecting Leg Drive

The explosive leg drive is a crucial part of the standing push press, helping to launch the barbell overhead. Lack of power generation and excessive reliance on the upper body might occur from not engaging the leg muscles by starting the exercise with a correct dip and drive. This not only hinders the exercise’s efficiency but also prevents you from gaining entire body strength.

Mistake 2: Incomplete Lockout

Locking out at the top of the push press is important for getting the most out of your muscles and minimizing joint stress. The shoulder and triceps muscles aren’t fully activated if the arms aren’t fully extended overhead. Focus on extending your arms fully at the peak of each repetition to get the most out of your workout and avoid injury.

Mistake 3: Overarching Your Back

Proper spinal alignment is essential during the standing push press. Arching your back excessively might strain your lower back and impair stability. To avoid this mistake, activate your core muscles to stabilize your spine and maintain neutral posture. This directs force to the desired muscle groups, making the training safer and more effective.

Muscles Worked By Barbell Push Press

how to do barbell push press

The Barbell Push Press is a multifaceted exercise that works many different muscle groups all over your body, giving you a full and effective workout. Here’s a list of the muscles that the Barbell Push Press works:

Deltoids (Shoulders)

The primary target of the Barbell Push Press, both the anterior (front) and lateral (side) deltoid heads are activated as you lift the barbell overhead. This movement stimulates muscle growth and enhances shoulder strength, contributing to a well-rounded shoulder appearance.

Triceps Brachii

As you extend your arms to lift the barbell overhead, your triceps muscles are heavily engaged. This not only assists in the movement but also promotes triceps development, aiding in arm strength and definition.

Upper Pectorals (Upper Chest)

The Barbell Push Press recruits the upper portion of your pectoral muscles, especially during the initial phase of the lift. This engagement adds to the overall upper body power and aesthetic development.

Core Muscles

To maintain stability and control throughout the movement, your core muscles, including the rectus abdominis and obliques, play a crucial role. They help prevent excessive arching of the back and ensure proper posture, enhancing overall balance and core strength.


The initial dip and drive phase of the Barbell Push Press engages your quadriceps muscles. While the main focus is on upper body strength, this lower body contribution adds an element of leg power to the movement.

Gluteus Maximus

Your glutes are activated during the upward drive, assisting in generating force as you lift the barbell overhead. This engagement contributes to overall lower body power and strength.

Lower Back (Erector Spinae)

To stabilize the spine and maintain an upright posture, your lower back muscles are actively involved. However, it’s important to engage them properly and avoid excessive arching to prevent strain.


As you perform the dip and drive, your hamstrings help extend your hips, aiding in generating the upward force required for lifting the barbell overhead.

Barbell Push Press Benefits

shoulder push press

Adding the Barbell Push Press to your workout regimen will take your fitness to the next level and uncover a plethora of advantages that will boost your strength, athleticism, and muscle growth.

Benefit 1: Explosive Power

The Barbell Push Press is a powerful exercise for building rapid power, which is a key skill in many sports. By adding the force from your lower body to the movement of the barbell up, you train your muscles to work quickly and together. 

This explosive power isn’t just about being able to lift heavier weights; it’s a dynamic skill that can be used to do things like run, jump, and change directions quickly. The push press gives you the ability to release controlled bursts of strength, whether you’re a sports fan or just want to feel more alive in your daily life.

Benefit 2: Shoulder Sculpting

The Barbell Push Press has a lot of benefits, but one of its best uses is to shape and define your shoulder muscles. When the lifter moves up quickly, it works your deltoids, especially the front and side heads, with a lot of force. This focused stimulation makes muscles grow and get more defined, which gives the upper body a more impressive and well-rounded look. 

By doing the push press on a regular basis, you challenge your shoulder muscles in a way that makes you look better and gives you more strength for daily tasks that involve pushing or lifting.

Benefit 3: Time Efficiency

The Barbell Push Press is the best workout in terms of how well it works and how little time it takes. This exercise is a great way to combine the power of your legs and the strength of your arms into a single, smooth movement. As you dip and drive with your legs to start moving the barbell up, you smoothly move into the pressing movement, which works your shoulders and arms. 

This synergy makes your training more efficient by getting rid of the need to do different exercises for your legs and upper body. The push press is a great way to get the most out of your workout in the least amount of time, whether you are short on time or just want to add something new to your practice.

Alternatives To The Barbell Push Press

Looking to spice up your upper body training routine? Discover these effective alternatives to the Barbell Push Press, each offering a unique set of benefits to cater to your fitness goals.

Exercise Option 1: Dumbbell Push Press

The Dumbbell Push Press introduces unilateral training, engaging each arm independently to address muscle imbalances and enhance stability. This exercise closely mimics the barbell push press but with the added challenge of managing individual weights. As you explosively press the dumbbells overhead, you engage your shoulders, triceps, and core while also improving coordination and control. 

Additionally, the dumbbell variation encourages a greater range of motion, further stimulating muscle growth and promoting balanced upper-body development. Incorporate the Dumbbell Push Press to refine your form, boost strength, and achieve a sculpted upper body.

Exercise Option 2: Kettlebell Push Press

The Kettlebell Push Press is a unique task because it requires you to control how the kettlebell moves. As you lift the kettlebell over your head, this exercise works your stabilizer muscles because it requires precision and balance. The kettlebell’s uneven weight distribution works your core muscles, making you more stable and giving you more core power. 

With each explosive press, you work your shoulders, biceps, and upper chest, and the shape of the kettlebell adds to the difficulty by making it unstable. The Kettlebell Push Press is a great way to improve coordination, stability, and power all over the body.

Exercise Option 3: Overhead Press

The classic Overhead Press is a key upper body workout that focuses on building pure upper body strength and developing the shoulders. In the overhead press, there is no leg drive like there is in the push press. This puts more focus on your shoulders and triceps. This move lets you focus on gaining strength and muscle mass in your upper body. 

The overhead press helps build a well-rounded upper body because it works the shoulders, biceps, and upper chest. Use this practice to test the strength of your upper body and get a great shoulder definition.

Overhead Press vs Push Press

You can strengthen your shoulders and triceps with either the Overhead Press or the Push Press, but they each have their own benefits. The Overhead Press is ideal for people who want to bulk up quickly because it focuses solely on the development of upper-body strength and muscle. The Push Press, on the other hand, is an explosive activity that improves strength, speed, and agility by using leg force. To get the most out of your upper body workout, pick the moves that work best with your specific objectives and preferred methods of training.

Bottom Line On Should Push Press

The Barbell Push Press and its alternatives give you a wide range of ways to train to meet different exercise goals. You can use these exercises to build muscle, improve your ability to move quickly, or increase your general strength. Mix up your routine with these changes to keep your workouts interesting, avoid plateaus, and customize your training to get the results you want. Remember that a balanced and varied method is the key to unlocking the full potential of your upper body.


Can beginners perform the Barbell Push Press?

Beginners can start with light weights and focus on mastering proper form before progressing.

Is the Barbell Push Press suitable for muscle building?

Absolutely, the push press engages multiple muscle groups, making it an effective muscle-building exercise.

How often should I incorporate the Barbell Push Press into my routine?

You can include it 1-2 times per week, ensuring sufficient rest and recovery between sessions.

Can I do Barbell Push Press without a rack?

Yes, you can clean the barbell to your shoulders from the ground to perform the push press.

How is Barbell Push Press different from the Jerk?

Push press involves a dip and drive, while the jerk includes a split stance for overhead lifting. Choose based on your goals.


  1. Lake, Jason & Mundy, Peter & Comfort, Paul. (2014). Power and Impulse Applied During Push Press Exercise. Journal of strength and conditioning research / National Strength & Conditioning Association. 28. 10.1519/JSC.0000000000000438. 
  1. Loturco, I., Pereira, L. A., Kobal, R., Maldonado, T., Piazzi, A. F., Bottino, A., Kitamura, K., Cal Abad, C. C., de Arruda, M., & Nakamura, F. Y. (2016). Improving Sprint Performance in Soccer: Effectiveness of Jump Squat and Olympic Push Press Exercises. PloS one, 11(4), e0153958.