7 Vertical Push Exercises: Muscle Guide
It’s push day, and for some people, it’s the best day of the week. For others – it’s even worse than leg day. But regardless of which side of the debate you’re on, there’s one thing that’s for certain: it’s necessary to incorporate your push muscles into your routine.
Vertical push exercises are exactly as they sound. These are exercises that are done while pushing weight overhead. Most of these moves are focused on the shoulders, though you’ll definitely use your chest and triceps a fair share.
Tired of lying down for those bench presses and skull crushers? Get on your feet for some of our favorite vertical push exercises.
1. Overhead Shoulder Press
The overhead shoulder press is a foundational movement used to strengthen the deltoid muscles of the shoulders. This exercise is sometimes called the military press. This is one of the most basic push exercises, as well as one of the most effective.
This primarily works the deltoid muscles of your shoulder, focusing on the lateral delts that lie on top of the shoulder. The deltoid muscles help you move your arms in different directions while stabilizing the shoulder joint and protecting it from injury. Not to mention, having bulky shoulders is a great way to increase your body composition.
You can do overhead shoulder presses with a barbell, dumbbells, kettlebells, or any type of weight. You’ll press the weight overhead, keeping a soft bend at the elbows, before bringing it back down.
You can also do this move seated or standing. Standing requires more core stability to prevent arching of the lower back.
Additionally, when doing this move with dumbbells, you can choose a close grip with palms facing toward each other, or you can do a neutral grip with your palms facing away from you. The former focuses more on the front deltoids, while the latter focuses on the lateral deltoids.
Keep in mind that your deltoid muscles are a small muscle group as opposed to many others, so you likely won’t be able to lift super heavy weights with this move right out of the gate. We recommend starting with about 8-12 reps, three sets, to gain muscle mass.
2. Arnold Press
The limitation of an overhead press is that it only targets one portion of the shoulders depending on the grip you’re using with the weight. This makes the Arnold press a more effective exercise in some respects because it can target both the front and lateral heads of the deltoid muscle.
With the Arnold press, you’ll start with a pair of dumbbells positioned right in front of your eyes with your palms facing you. From there, you’ll press the weight overhead, rotating your wrist so that your palms face away from you at the top. Then, return to the start, ensuring that you rotate your wrists on the way down so that they face you at the starting position.
You can do an Arnold press standing or seated in the same way as a traditional overhead press. Additionally, you can do one arm at a time if you get fatigued – this also helps with some extra core and oblique stability.
3. Dumbbell Thrusters
Dumbbell thrusters are one of the greatest push exercises of all time, and it incorporates a combination movement of a squat to an overhead press. This exercise is a power move, requiring explosive force to complete properly. But this move uses multiple muscle groups simultaneously, making it highly effective for calorie burn and fat loss.
To do thrusters, hold two dumbbells up at your shoulders. Sink into a deep squat, and then using the power from your legs, drive those dumbbells up overhead. Then return back to the squat and repeat.
Since you primarily use your legs to drive those weights up above, you can probably go a lot heavier here than you normally would with a traditional overhead press. This can help you build muscle even more quickly and effectively than traditional exercises.
You can also do thruster rotations, which work the calves and the obliques a little more effectively. With these, when you come up from the squat, you’ll thrust only one dumbbell overhead, pivoting that same foot and rotating toward the side. You’ll go back and forth on both sides until your set is complete.
This move targets your deltoids, but it also makes use of your quadriceps. Your quads are the muscles of your thighs, and these are primarily used for extending the knee and flexing the hips. Together, the four muscles that make up the quads are the strongest muscles in the human body, so making sure you have strong quads can help reduce knee injuries and other problems in the lower body.
4. Dumbbell Snatch
A dumbbell snatch is a nice mix between a push and pull exercise, but it still activates those quads and requires effort from your shoulders, making it primarily a vertical push movement. Snatches can be done with a barbell, but the more basic foundational movement is done with a single dumbbell.
Start with the dumbbell between your feet and hinge your hips back, grabbing the dumbbell with one hand. Keep the dumbbell close to your body as if you’re zipping up a jacket, thrusting the dumbbell up overhead. Hinge the hips to return the dumbbell to the starting position, switching hands on your next rep.
This move targets the hamstrings, but it also requires effort from the quads. And similar to a thruster, you can go super heavy with the weight here since you primarily use your lower body to drive that weight overhead.
This exercise targets a few different muscles, but it also activates the trapezius muscles. These are considered pull muscles because they are used to stabilize and move the scapula (shoulder blades), but these muscles are heavily involved during the pulling motion before the dumbbell is pressed overhead. Having larger traps can make you look more physically fit overall.
5. Z Press
A standing shoulder press and a seated shoulder press are difficult enough, but if you want to progress this move to new extremes, you can do a Z press. A Z press takes the benefits of a shoulder press and forces some heavy core activation.
A Z press is a normal shoulder press, except you’ll sit on the ground with legs extended and torso perpendicular to the ground, sort of like you’re at the top of a crunch. This will force you to keep your core stable to ensure you don’t fall backwards as you try to lift dumbbells or kettlebells overhead.
This is a difficult move, and the key here is to keep your spine straight from your hips up to your neck. It’s easy to round the back when it’s under so much pressure, but you’ll want to keep your chest proud to ensure that you don’t hurt yourself.
The Z press targets the same muscles as the overhead press while also targeting the core. Your core is a foundational muscle of your entire body, but having a strong abdomen can also work to help you balance and stabilize your body as a whole. Having a strong core can make you stronger at other exercises in your training program.
6. Overhead Tricep Extension
The triceps are a muscle group between the shoulder and the elbow. Strong triceps can help you get better at other pushing exercises, like chest and shoulder presses, as this muscle is often one to fatigue before larger muscle groups. The overhead tricep extension targets the triceps specifically.
You can do this with a dumbbell by holding it with both hands in a diamond formation. The key here is to try to bring the weight as far down as possible, towards your mid back, while keeping your elbows locked in place at your temples. Keep the elbows stable and get a nice stretch in the triceps before pressing back to the top.
The triceps brachii is a large, thick muscle with the main function of extending the elbow joint. Having strong triceps can also make your arm look a lot bigger, helping you fill out the sleeves.
7. Landmine Press
A landmine press works similar muscles to an overhead shoulder press. However, the main benefit of a landmine press is that you get the added core stability that many other pieces of equipment don’t match. Since you’re under tension throughout the movement, pressing overhead with one arm can work the shoulders and obliques very well.
This move can be done while kneeling or standing, and each requires core stability. Since you’re a bit less stable on the knees, if you’re looking to activate the abs, you might want to do this move while kneeling down.
You can also turn sideways from the anchor point to turn this move into a W press, which targets the lateral delts and the lats in your back. This move can also be done kneeling or standing.
Vertical Push Exercises With Speede
Vertical push movements are arguably the best ways to add volume to your shoulders, traps, and triceps. But traditional weight training has a limitation that might be stunting your progress.
At every angle in a given range of motion, the working muscle exerts a different amount of force. For instance, when doing a shoulder press, the amount of tension that is placed on the working muscle at the bottom half of the repetition is much higher than the force exerted at the top half of the move. This is called the strength curve.
The strength curve happens with any exercise when your muscles are under tension, and it’s mostly a byproduct of the forces of gravity. But this means your muscles are not working to their maximum capacity at every portion of the rep.
However, Speede is an AI-driven workout tool that can address the limitations of traditional training. In the eccentric and isokinetic modes, the device can adjust the resistance so that your muscles are constantly under perfect force. Essentially, the resistance changes while the velocity of motion remains the same.
This means you’ll get bigger muscle gains in just a fraction of the time, making moves like the overhead press and the snatch even more effective. Book a demo today and start getting closer to your goals.
Vertical push exercises where you drive weight overhead are some of the most effective movements for targeting the shoulder muscles. Moves like the overhead press and Arnold press work to target the front and lateral delts, giving you more shoulder definition.
With that said, moves like the z press, overhead tricep extension, thrusters, and snatches all work different push muscles throughout the body to give you a full-body sweat session. Soon enough, you’ll be seeing and feeling the results.
But if you’re tired of waiting, you can achieve your goals in just a fraction of the time with Speede. Speede uses AI technology to adjust to your body’s muscle force output, ensuring that you’re using the maximum amount of resistance at every portion of your reps.
Book a demo today and learn how Speede can help you get stronger faster.