T Nation

Push Press Assistance


I am making a template for the rest of the summer right now, and I was thinking about Push Press assistance exercises.

A few options came to mind. . .

3 sets of 12 on one of the following:
-Seated or Standing DB or BB Overhead Press
-One arm DB Overhead Press
--I like this option because I could change the angle of my body to make it easier on the shoulder
-DB Push Press

Of course, I'll be doing a ton of volume on upper back exercises (chins and rows of all variations), but how do these options look for a good hypertrophy focused assistance lift to compliment heavy push pressing in the 1-5 rep range? I just got off a 3 week cycle of push pressing with sets of 8 where I took my push press from 135 for 3 sets of 8 to 155 for just short of 3 sets of 8. I'm changing things back down to lower rep ranges to throw my body a curve ball and encourage adaptation.

Anyways, I won't get too long winded.

What sort of Push Press assistance work has helped you?



depends on where you weakness is in the push press, is it just getting the damn weight in the air, then u need more shoulder strength, is it locking it out over head? then you need tricep assistance, a great shoulder/tricep move i like is pin presses in the seated military position. you can put the bar where you weakness is or just below it a really get up to some weight, having strong legs helps too, i wouldnt do db push presses, thatd just be awkward as fuck. behind the neck push presses would be a good change of pace as well i think. really just hammer those shoulders and tris but dont fuck them up to bad ha


Thanks, Bignate!

To be honest I'm just weak, lol :slightly_smiling:

That's me push pressing 205 last week.

Monopoly, a strongman competitor who frequents this site, commented that I have great initial leg drive. I've noticed that I can pop the bar up into my chin when I do low rep front squats with compensatory acceleration. That's even with the heaviest weight I can front squat.

Judging by that video, it looks like I could just use more general pressing strength.

I think that I'll do something like this:

3 weeks moderate-high volume: DB one arm press

1 week volume deload

3 weeks moderate-high volume: Seated Pin Press at roughly level with where I 'catch' the bar to start pressing during a push press

1 week volume deload

3 weeks moderate-high volume: Seated DB Press

1 week testing week @ end of summer :slightly_smiling:
(Push press at least 235 :slightly_smiling: )

I'm not only talking to myself: I'm tossing ideas around for critique. :wink: Any comments at all would be appreciated. Thanks, thanks.


Is this to follow your heavy push presses? Are you rotating the low rep push presses with any other exercise?

What about some type of band work? I'm thinking seated reverse band presses to hit lockout and work with supramax. weights. I would pair it your 1 arm presses so that you still get in some work with the leg drive.


Yes, that will follow my heavy push presses.

This past 2 week cycle, which got messed up by a study, I did singles. I'm going to do vary the rep number on the push presses each month. So, starting this week's training cycle:

M1 3s with varying number of sets and intensity
M2 6s with with fairly consistent sets and intensity
M3 2s to get used to some heavy weights before I test

Wow I really like the reverse band work idea. Tomorrow I'm going to pay for my 3 months at Chip's Gym. Any chance you guys have a way to set up reverse band work on overhead pressing?

Thanks a lot.


We do. There is a power rack and of course you'll have to do them seated.

The bands get locked up, so as long as you get there during working hours you'll have access.

See ya tomorrow.


Right now I'm doing a cycle of plyometrics along with heavy front squats with a shit ton of chain weight at the top to see how it affects my leg drive.

The other day I did triples on the olympic front squat with 225 with 100lbs of chain added. I'm going to shoot for a triple at 245 and 120lbs of chain at the end of the cycle and see where that leaves my push press.

Watching your video, your big problem is that you dont start pushing the weight soon enough. Start pushing as soon as you dip and the weight should get a lot higher with more momentum before it stalls. For you, leg drive gets it to your head, it stalls, and then you get it to lockout with your triceps.


Not to Hijack, but I struggle with the lockout. Should I just do more pin presses at the top of a military press?


Excellent. See you then.

Plyometrics and chain front squats. Nice. Do you do front squats and plyos on two days or a strength day and a power day?

I'll focus on pressing it from the start next time. Thanks.


Plyo's are added 1-2 times a week as my first exercise, they prepare me for the heavy work I do afterwards without taking any energy away. I'm already dipping shallower with quicker drive, we'll have to see how that carrys over. I can't do plyo's indefinitely though so I'll be cutting those out in a few weeks in favor of other training methods (regular jump training, etc). At the end of the entire cycle I'll evaluate whether it was worth it or not. Either way, I dont think it's necessary to do this kind of training constantly to get results from it. A couple 8-12 week cycles a year should be enough.

As for the front squats, 3 weeks out of 4.

What you have to realize with my training though, is that if you look at it carefully, all of it is geared to lower end strength and leg drive. This is my weakness. Even though my legs are strong they aren't giving me the power I need to drive big weights. If you struggle at lockout after you fix your form (thats your biggest concern right now) then none of this will mean much to you.


Interesting. From what I understand, Soviet Literature says that high intensity plyometric exercises only need to make it into the program for short cycles and as few as twice per year. Also, I've read that the explosive gains aren't realized until after they are dropped from the program, sometimes as long as a week or two afterward. I think was in Siff's Supertraining

Totally understand what you mean- it may not mean much to my training today, but, in the future, who knows :slightly_smiling:

Also, thanks for stopping by Threewhitelights. Insightful stuff, as always.


I always considered push presses an assistance exercise.


Exactly. It'll be 4 weeks of plyo training, 4 weeks of jump training, 4 weeks of plyo training, and I may repeat the cycle later in the year but not more than twice. Also, like I said, I won't judge how effective they were until AFTER my cycle.


I was thinking the same thing.

Honestly, I think you could stand to have a lot more leg drive. You get up onto your toes WAAAY early, and it looks like you are letting your shoulders slouch forward near the bottom of your dip/beginning of your drive. You really need to think about driving off your heels and keeping your back tight/chest big so that you can get more of your leg drive into the lift. I think you could be A LOT more explosive with this.

Take what I am saying with a grain of salt, though, as I look at push presses as an assistance lift to the Jerk. You'll definitely put more weight overhead with a stronger leg drive.


If he is training for strongman,it is a main lift.

OP,do overhead squats as well they can really help your press.


I would do overhead pin presses and standing dumbell presses, and lots of shrugs, rows, lat work/


Just throwing this out as it's tangentially related: if you're a strongman competitor (and judging by the avatar, it looks like you are), my log always seems to do better when I throw in heavy incline work. Not push press per se, but an overhead press, so maybe it'll help.


With a 205 push press anything will improve it, not sure how well he may do in strongman though, could be kind of tough ....

but to specialise on a push press when you are at 205...


It's one of the most important gym lifts for a strongman (or an aspiring one, as in my case).

I'll try the chest forward thing, but I don't see how I could get more leg drive. Any more specific suggestions?


I'll try those next cycle, thanks.

Hmmm I will do put more focus to incline pressing later. Thank you very much for the recommendation. Duly noted. I will give it a try in the future.

Not sure what you're getting at. I never said I was specializing in the push press.

I realize I didn't post the rest of my program (a pretty basic upper/lower split), so I think you're jumping to conclusions, man. I'm not specializing on the lift, just giving it more focus as a weakness. In general, I'm pretty weak. I've acknowledged that and given my routine a well balanced all-around focus. You can find it in my training log.

If you require the clarification, I'm an aspiring strongman. I think we all know that a 205 max push press won't budge much in a strongman competition. :slightly_smiling: I'm glad you could reiterate that for us, though.

That said, we all start somewhere, and you'll see a stronger me soon.


Its more about puffing up your chest and keeping it there, then pushing it forward. And the other big suggestion is staying flat on your feet as you dip and drive, as opposed to coming up onto your toes early. You should not extend your calves until you've already extended your knees and hips. Those are the two big form suggestions.

As far as leg drive suggestions from a strength point of view, more squatting. You need to build your leg strength up a lot more, in my opinion.