What Are the Benefits of the Barbell Push Press?

Lift a light weight the first time you perform the push press.

Lift a light weight the first time you perform the push press.

You may not always have a lot of time to spend in the gym, so you need exercises that provide you with a quick and effective workout. The barbell push press is a good exercise for an efficient routine because it works muscles from your shoulders to your shins. Perform the push press by standing erect and holding the barbell across the front of your chest, lowering your body and then pushing your legs into the floor as you extend your arms over your head.

Form

Firm the muscles in your abs and lower back before you grasp the barbell. Hold the bar so that the backs of your hands face your chest. Tip your head back slightly, set your hands a bit wider than shoulder-width apart and point your elbows toward the floor. To start the movement, bend your hips back and your knees forward, and flex your ankles a bit while you keep your heels on the floor. Inhale as you lower the weight and exhale as you rise. When your thighs are about parallel to the floor, push down on your heels, straighten your legs and extend your arms straight up. Rise onto your toes toward the top of the lift while keeping your back straight.

Muscles Worked

The barbell push press works muscles from your shoulders to your shins. The muscles doing the heaviest lifting include all of the deltoids in your shoulders, the triceps in your upper arms, the trapezius muscles in your back, the gluteus maximus in your rear end, the quadriceps in the front of your thighs and the soleus and gastrocnemius muscles in your calves. Muscles that perform less work, or that help stabilize your movements, include the rhomboids and erector spinae in your back, the rotator cuff around your shoulders, the serratus anterior and transverse abdominus at the sides of your torso, the gluteus medius and minimus by your hips, the adductors of your inner thighs and the hamstrings at the backs of your thighs.

Movements

In addition to working numerous muscles, the barbell push press moves your body in a variety of ways to help strengthen your joints and improve your range of motion. You derive the primary benefits when you’re working against maximum resistance as you lift the weight. As you press upward, your hips, knees and elbows extend, meaning that their angles increase. You experience plantar flexion of the ankle near the end of the lift when you rise on your toes as your body moves farther from the front of your feet. Your shoulder area experiences different movements in the first and second parts of the lift. Your back muscles rotate each shoulder blade outward while the shoulder itself abducts -- or moves toward the side. As you finish the lift, your shoulder blades move upward and your shoulders flex as their angles decrease.

Safety Concerns

Proper technique is important in the barbell push press; you won’t derive any benefits from the exercise if you become injured. Consider at least one session with a personal trainer to ensure that you’re using the correct form. Use a spotter or two next to you as you lift the barbell. Begin with a light weight when you’re learning the lift and advance to heavier weights when you’re sure that your technique is sound. Tighten your abs and core muscles when you first lift the bar to your shoulders. You may also wish to stand with one foot slightly in front of the other to help your balance, but reset yourself so that your feet are parallel and shoulder-width apart before you begin the downward phase.

 

About the Author

M.L. Rose has worked as a print and online journalist for more than 20 years. He has contributed to a variety of national and local publications, specializing in sports writing. Rose holds a B.A. in communications.

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