T Nation

'Big Push Press, Strong in Other Presses'

Glenn Pendlay says that a guy who has a big push press, will be strong at all other pressing movements. What do you think about this statement? True or false and why? and whats your experience with push press?

I completely agree. Based off my own experiences only. When Im really focused on push presses my bench press also tends to go up. When I stall on bench I include more push press as opposed to strict press and I generally break the plateau Im in.

Assuming we are talking about an actual push press and not a jerk, it makes sense. The push press still requires pressing to be completed, and having a strong push press necessitates having a strong ability to press along with good leg drive.

Boil it down to it’s most basic level and it equates to “a strong person will be strong in many movements”.

[quote]T3hPwnisher wrote:
Boil it down to it’s most basic level and it equates to “a strong person will be strong in many movements”.[/quote]

"The push press has more carryover to pressing in general â?? bench press etc. â?? than any other upper body exercise. Show me a guy who can push press a big weight and he’s going to be able to excel at any other pressing movement, even if he’s never done it before.

A big bench presser doesn’t get that same carryover. I don’t want to have 400-pound bench pressers who can’t do anything else. The guy who can do heavy push presses doesn’t have that problem. He’s strong at everything.

And that can’t be done with the strict military press either. It’s too hard to get it moving. You have such a weak point at the start that it limits the amount of weight you can use.

With a push press, you can put 10 to 20% more weight over your head. You’re forced to develop the ability to recruit those muscle fibers very quickly because you’re pushing the bar off your shoulders with your legs and then your arms have to come into play, fast, so it doesn’t stall. The ability to do that is very, very valuable.

Second, with the push press there’s just a huge overload at the top. That last six inches at the top is like doing a partial. That has a powerful effect on the body."

Thinking about the mechanics, it makes a lot of sense. A push press de-emphasizes the shoulders (versus strict pressing) and increases the emphasis on the lockout which is more triceps dominant. So, a big push press equals really strong triceps, the one muscle that is a prime mover in all upper body pressing in every plain of motion including bench.

In addition to the focus on lockout strength (triceps and delts), I think there’s also a neural component. The upper back is strengthened and learns to maintain stability of the spine and scapulae in a way that isn’t really addressed with many other movements. Heavy overhead supports, partial lockouts, and even overhead walks can basically do the same thing.

So, extending that. Now that the antagonists are stronger, and there’s better control and stability of the joints, there’s less neural inhibition of the pressing muscles which lets you press more without any increase in muscle mass. In effect, the body says “sure, now that I know you’re not going to hurt yourself, I’ll let you use more of your existing strength”.


So how do we get the biggest push press?

Personally, if I don’t do some strict pressing, my push press really suffers. Seated dumbbell, strict military, steep incline, whatever, as long as its full range.

I also like some kind of partials/lockouts from pins, either overhead or partial close grip bench. As you lift off the pins, you kinda “figure out” the best way to line everything up and apply force, then the bar breaks off the pins. When I set the pins to allow for 1/2 range of motion (the strong half) it really “feels” like locking out a push press.