T Nation

Push Press vs. Military Press


CT, I got a few questions.

One, the difference between the Push Press and Military Press is ONLY that the Push Press uses a leg drive, right?

If so, more weight can be used and I'd assume that's beneficial. However, where's the negative in this; does that mean since the shoulder is doing less "work", it's not going to develop at the optimal rate if someone were do to the Military Press?

What's a better exercise in your opinion?


The push press, if performed correctly, is the best overall shoulder builder of all.

By performed correctly I mean simply using a SLIGHT leg drive to get the bar moving from the clavicle, which is a very weak position. Once the bar gets started, it's all shoulders.

Do not turn the push PRESS into a push JERK. Which may look somewhat the same to the untrained eye, but uses a POWERFUL leg drive to propel the bar in the air. The push press is still mostly shoulders, the push jerk is at least 50% legs, if not more.


Well then, I guess I haven't been doing push presses, I've been doing jerks. When your legs split, is that called a split jerk?


Also, what's it called when you do a power shrug with a full hip extension and calf drive?


referring to high pulls?


Technically an olympic lift variation should include three words:

1st word = position in the catch position (muscle, power, squat or split)
2nd word = basic lift category (snatch, clean, jerk)
3rd word = starting position (from the floor, from the hang, from blocks)

A ''muscle lift'' is when you catch the bar with little or no knee bend. A ''power'' variation is catching the bar with as much as a 90 degrees knee bend. A ''squat'' lift is catching the bar with the knees bent more than 90 degrees. A ''split'' lift is catching the bar in a lunge position.

A ''clean'' is when you lift the bar up to the clavicle. A snatch is when you lift the bar from below your belt up to overhead in one movement. A jerk is when you lift the bar from the clavicle (or behind the neck) to overhead with a powerful leg drive and arm push.

For example a power clean from the floor. Would have you lift the bar from thee floor to the shoulders (clean) with your knees not bent more than 90 degrees.

With the jerk we normally do not include the starting position (because 90% of the time is starts on the clavicle, the other 10% might be behind the neck).

So you can have a muscle jerk (almost never used) where you would use a powerful leg drive to propel the bar up and catch it with the legs straight.

A power jerk (used in competition by guys like Pirros Dimas) is when you propel the bar overhead with a powerful leg drive and catch the bar by dipping under it, but not exceeding a 90 degrees knee bend.

A squat jerk (used in competition by a lot of chinease lifters) is similar to a power jerk, but you catch the bar overhead in a full squat position.

A split jerk (the style most often seen in competition) uses a powerful leg drive and you dip under the bar by splitting into the low position of a lunge.


You can call it a power shrug. If the bar starts around knee level (from the hang) and you only perform a shrug (not lifting the bar up the sternum with you arms) the technical term would be a low clean pull from the hang.


Great Info so far on the Shoulder Press Vs the Push Press

Is there any tricks to the push press to not feel it in the low back as much as I seem to do.

I have no injury but I seem to feel it in the low back and I am thinking I have too much lumbar extension in relation to my hips.

I loose power and it just doesn't feel right, any ideas on form improvements?


Thanks, that clarifies everything. Nope, not a high pull.

I've tried the high pull a few times, and I can't seem to get it right, it never gets me in the zone. For example, when I do snatch and clean variations, they came very naturally(I think even more naturally than most bodybuilding exercises like squats, deadlifts, rows, and presses). The power pull has this wierd feel to it.

Would you say it's like a low power pull into an upright row? Do the scapula retract completely? Sometimes it seems like I could uppercut my chin with the bar, whereas I'm not scared of this on a power clean or snatch.


Hey are behind neck push press lifts bad for shoulders? they look safer then front push press atleast to me. what do u think CT?


No, they are very hard on the shoulder joint. Olympic lifters might use them from time to time, but they really are not a staple exercise and they shouldn't be.




Hey coach do yo use Clean-Pulls much with your athletes? I love doing these, and they seem like they would have a huge Explosive carry over to all athletic competition. I ask because I haven't see them in any strength programs or templates geared towards athletes.


I rarely, if ever, use them with my athletes. As I mentioned earlier in this thread, they do not improve power, jumping capacity, speed and the capacity to absorb external force as well as the power clean or power snatch. And they are also inferior to plyos and balistic training.


Damn, nice info CT. Very helpful.

Would you recommend doing it or slightly past shoulder width( I have very long arms) to emphasize more of the side/medial/later head?

And ideally what's a good strength ratio for the MP? I thought I read somewhere it should be 70% of your bench press, perhaps I'm misinformed, but in relativity to your body weight. How much should you be push pressing compared to your body weight?


Is there any way you can tell whether you are using too much leg drive during a push press? While doing it earlier today I was much more explosive than last week (or at least that's how I felt) and ended up almost doing a "mini jump" with each rep - just enough for my feet to make a bit of noise, but not enough to actually lose all contact with the ground. Is that an indication of using too much leg drive?



I think that if you use too much leg drive, you won't feel the pressing until closer to lockout.


The heels should not leave the ground. Basically if you were to ONLY do the initial leg drive, the bar would barely reach the eyes.


Thanks, that makes it clear. I'll play around with the amount of leg drive (without the push) tomorrow after training and see how it goes.



CT for someone (me) who wants to improve their front delt - upper chest tie in, would the push press be inferior to the seated version in MY case?

i 'think' i remember you saying bottom portion of the movement heavily involved the clavicular part of the chest but i may be wrong...