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Biomechanics of a Push-Up to Power Press

The push-up to power press is an excellent compound exercise that engages the individual in a full-body workout. It works the chest, shoulder, arm, and lower body muscles, such as the glute and leg muscles. The push-up and shoulder press portions of the exercise increase upper body strength. The strong push from the squat position builds lower body strength and explosiveness. Additionally, the exercise recruits the core to stabilize the body during the movement. This exercise can help improve muscle imbalances and posture because it focuses on total body strength. It is an advanced movement that requires coordination and overall muscle strength to perform correctly.


Muscles Involved

The primary muscles in the upper body when performing the push-up to power press are the pectoralis major and minor, serratus anterior, deltoid, biceps, and the lower and middle trapezius. The primary muscles in the lower body are the gluteus maximus and minimus, quadriceps, and hamstrings. The secondary muscles worked include the core muscles such as the rectus abdominis, internal and external obliques, and the psoas. Though the core is not the direct target of the exercise, it is essential to properly engage the core to protect the back and ensure efficient energy transfer from the lower body to the upper body.


Execution of the Push-Up to Power Press

To perform the Push-Up to Power Press, you will need two dumbbells of the same weight and an area large enough to execute the exercise comfortably.

To begin, place the dumbbell in front of the feet with the feet shoulder-width apart.

Squat down to grab the dumbbells and jump both feet back while keeping ahold of the dumbbells.

From the position, execute a push-up, maintaining proper form.

Jump the feet back towards the hands, engage the glutes to extend the hips, and stand up with dumbbells in hand.

Curl the weights up to your shoulders and squat down.

From the bottom of the squat, explode up and push the weights over and above your head. Be sure not to arch the lower back or jerk the weights.

In a slow and controlled manner, bring the weights back down and repeat the movement for the specified number of reps.



Modifying the exercise

When executing this exercise, always use a weight the individual can control in the pressing portion. If the person cannot perform the push-up to power press, modify by lowering or eliminating the weight or modifying movements.

To modify movement in the exercise, perform a modified push-up or step back to the push-up position instead of jumping. Additionally, if the client is a beginner and has difficulty properly executing a push-up, in that case, the client can do the push-up from the knees.

To make this exercise more challenging, add a weighted vest to increase resistance and difficulty.


Common Mistakes and how to fix them
  • Placing the dumbbells too far in front. Improper placement can cause strain on the shoulders and back when doing the push-up. Instead, ensure that the hands and dumbbells align with the shoulders.

  • Arching of the back when doing the push-up and shoulder press portions places strain on the lower back. An arch in the lower back can lead to pain. Instead, slightly tilt the hips posteriorly (tuck the hips) to ensure that the core is engaged and counteract arching of the lower back.

  • Lastly, hyperextending the wrists removes the work from the target muscles, making the exercise easier and placing unnecessary strain on the wrists. Executing this exercise with the proper form is imperative to avoid injuries down the road.


In conclusion, the push-up to power press is a highly effective compound exercise that offers a comprehensive full-body workout. This exercise promotes overall strength and addresses muscle imbalances and posture issues by engaging multiple muscle groups, including the chest, shoulders, arms, lower body, and core. The combination of the push-up and shoulder press segments builds upper body strength. At the same time, the squat motion enhances lower body strength and explosiveness. Proper execution is crucial to maximize the benefits and minimize the risk of injury. This advanced exercise demands coordination and overall muscle strength, making it a valuable addition to a well-rounded fitness routine for those looking to challenge themselves and achieve a balanced physique. Remember to start with an appropriate weight and consider modifications if needed to ensure a safe and effective workout.


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