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Shoulder Press vs Push Press

One of the most misperformed movements is the shoulder press (or “strict press”). Many individuals get the push press and the shoulder press confused thinking that it's okay to add a “push” to the standard shoulder press when in fact you’re performing a completely different movement.


To gain a better understanding , watch the videos below to see the differences between the two:


Shoulder Press


Push Press


Here are some keys things to know about each:


  • Power Development (push press)

Mike Dewar of J2Ffit explains that, “the Push Press entails a lifter to use the legs, hips, and upper body to maximally accelerate heavy loads overhead. Power development is not only important for sport athletes, but it is a critical component to powerlifters and fitness athletes looking to increase overall performance for strength, muscular mass, and force output”.


  • Maximal Strength (shoulder press)

This movement does not allow the use of the lower body, it is solely the use of the shoulder and back muscles to move the weight upwards overhead. This isolates and challenges that one part of the body to exercise that muscular strength.


  • Greater load (push press)

Individuals can usually push press more weight than they can shoulder press. This is because of the use of the hips and legs to drive the power upwards with the assist of the upper body following the movement through. The flexion and extension (straightening and bending) of the hips and legs allow for this to happen.


  • Foundational Movement (shoulder press)

First things first, you must be able to do a strict shoulder press before performing a push press. This proves to you and your coach/trainer that you can move and support weight above your head with proper form. If you cannot do that and need your lower body as an assist, then you are not actually able to perform the movement overhead. First you need stability and strength of the overhead movement, then you can move into performing the power “power centric” movement of the push press.


Looking forward to seeing those shoulder presses and push presses at the gym!







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