Quick Fix: Push Press

We've gathered three simple solutions to common push press errors.


The Flaw: Going too heavy

The Fix: The push press is a power move, not a traditional strength exercise. And when power is the objective, speed is paramount. Loading up with too much weight will make for slower reps, which is counterproductive for power. As a rule of thumb, estimate your one-rep max on standing military presses, and use no more than 50-60 percent of that weight for sets of push presses.

The Flaw: Using deltoids too much

The Fix: Yes, there’s overhead pressing involved with this exercise, but the shoulders should not be the primary mover here. The dip in the hips and knees followed immediately by explosive extension in both joints are what drive the weight up in a properly performed push press — momentum is the key here. The shoulders shouldn’t take over until the top of the movement.

The Flaw: Sticking only to the barbell

The Fix: The standard push-press variation is with an Olympic bar, but it’s not the only option. Incorporate dumbbell push presses on a regular basis, particularly on high-rep sets of the exercise when focusing on conditioning. Because each arm is pressing independently of the other, dumbbells will help even out side-to-side strength imbalances. Plus, holding the dumbbells with a neutral grip (palms in) when doing push presses tends to take undue stress off the shoulder joints.