T Nation

Increasing Your Push Press


I just started doing them 2 weeks ago. The most I did is 205 pounds. How do I get it to go up?


Get stronger.


I eventually want to do 275-300 lbs.


Getting stronger legs and practicing the lift. The timing of starting the press is pretty crucial, I find that if I start it a fraction of a second too soon (before I finish full extending my legs), it makes the lift much harder since I don't get enough drive from the legs.


This is more than likely a problem with how your holding the bar. Your triceps should already be engaged by the time your legs are extended, and this shouldn't affect your leg drive at all. If the bar is seated correctly on your chest, or even just off of it, then it shouldn't affect your leg drive.

My guess is that you are holding the bar out too far, and so when you press before you are already extended it puts the bar out of position or reduces the amount of force you can transfer with your legs. Otherwise, it could be a simple coordination issue, but I doubt it.


I'm at 205 as well.

Is it a good idea to come up on your toes to get more power after hip extension? Or should one stay with their heels and rely more on pressing strength? Chances are this is another 'It depends' question. That in mind, I have crap pressing strength and I tend to get most of my lift from the initial drive. That should individualize the query somewhat. . .


I think you misinterpreted my post. I was referring to prematurely pressing, which effectively robs the force put on the bar by the leg drive. In my limited coaching experience, this is a relatively common error for beginners.


In most cases, I don't think consciously raising on to the toes is a good idea. It can have a tendency to push the weight forward and away from the body. With a strong dip and push, some raising may happen, but you want to avoid full extension.

Also, this depends on the implement. A barbell is going to be easier to control if it drifts forward because of it's smaller size. So you can get away with a little more raising. A log, on the other hand, will be less forgiving. You can also get away with more raising if you lean back more to keep the weight above, and not in front of, the body.

So, yeah, it depends.


I understood you fine then. You might be right if we were talking about a jerk, but in push pressing, you want to be pressing the bar up AS you are getting leg drive. That way there is no lull in force production. Every big presser I know does this, and I know for a fact that if I don't consciously press as I am driving, then the bar will go up a lot slower, I'll have a tougher lockout, and my training partner will slap me.


In terms of leg drive, a jerk and push press should be pretty similar. And to perform the push press (or jerk) the most efficiently, you have to maximize the leg drive. If you're pressing too soon before your legs full extend the bar will start to leave the body and you'll lose some of that power from the legs. Similarly if you start pushing too late after you've extended, the bar will have started to decelerate already. The point I've been trying to make is that timing is crucial for that smooth transition.

Full extension of the legs is the key part, and pressing too quickly before that is akin to 'cutting the pull' of a snatch or clean.


I tend to disagree. The push press and jerk will be different as far as when you start pushing. I would agree with you 100% if we were talking about when to start pressing for the push jerk or split jerk, but I disagree in this case.

For starters, a jerk will rely a lot on bar whip, whereas whip won't do nearly as much in a push press, since there is no dip to lockout.

Secondly, with a jerk, you are pushing to get UNDER the bar. If you do that too soon, then you are probably also dipping too soon and not getting full extension. Since the start of your press will be coordinated at the same time as your knee rebend and dip, if you started pressing sooner, chances are your would be pushing yourself down rather than the bar up, and this would screw your leg drive.

With a push press, you can push a lot sooner since this won't affect your extension at all. There is no way the bar should leave your chest while you are leg driving, that isn't the point, but you should still already be pressing by the time you come to extension and the bar leaves your chest. If you are pushing the bar at that point, it should have a lot more momentum by the time it gets to lockout and that should help you lock it out.

Hopefully I managed to explain myself clearly. Give it a try with the push press. Do a set the way you say, only pressing once the bar starts to leave the chest. Then take a few practice sets where you set your elbows slightly lower and start pressing at the bottom of your dip.


I find timing and position of the bar to be crucial. Just what the optimal timing is appears to be up for debate. As for position, as far back over my head as I can get it works best. Although threewhitelights has a point that pushing with arms early, before the leg drive is finished, could minimize the bar's deceleration, pushing too early messes up the bar path, at least for me. I do better with a slight delay between leg drive and pushing with the arms, letting the bar move up a few centimeters before the arms get involved. Play around with timing and positions until you find what works for you.


With your explanation here, I think we are talking about the same thing, just saying it different ways. When I was referring to not pressing before full extension, I was saying to avoid using the shoulders/arms as the primary force on the bar until reaching full extension of the legs. Of course pressing on the bar should start well before this, otherwise the transition off the chest wouldn't be smooth and the bar would decelerate from poor timing.


I dig it.