Overhead pressing is a movement we use frequently in every day life. There are three basic overhead lifts we do in the gym: the strict press, push press, and push jerk. Although the means of getting the barbell overhead is different in each lift the starting and ending positions are identical.

So what are the critical differences between the three lifts?

  1. Strict Press – Pressing weight straight overhead from rack position without the use of your lower body.
  1. Push Press – Pressing weight overhead from rack position using a DIP and DRIVE from the legs to accelerate the barbell upward.
  1. Push Jerk – Pressing weight overhead from rack position using a DIP and DRIVE from the legs to accelerate the barbell upward while DROPPING under the bar to catch it in a partial squat. You can think of the jerk as a jump and land.

Why is it important to distinguish the three?

  1. You will move better.If you know exactly what movement you are trying to perform then you will unquestionably do it better.  When you are fatigued and tired in a workout it’s not the time to be thinking which one is the push jerk.
  2. Your “coach” won’t always be there.  I know what some of you are thinking, that you come to class to not have to think and the coach will tell you what to do. Well what happens when the class size is big and/or the coach’s eyes or attention is not on you? Not knowing the movements means you either do the wrong movement or get frustrated. Don’t be coach dependent.
  3. Safety.There is also a safety element to knowing the lifts.  Mistaking your 1RM push jerk number for your 1RM push press means you will try to push a lot more weight overhead resulting in a bad workout or less safe situation. It would be like trying to front squat your back squat load. Not bueno!

Pressing the bar overhead is still one of the most useful upper body exercises and it involves the entire body! Your feet, legs, glutes, core, abs, hips, ankles and wrists help to stabilize the body while your shoulders, upper chest, back and arms press the bar overhead.

Continue to be coachable, get to know your lifts and keep pushing!



A. Push Jerk
(every 90 seconds)

B: 5-Rounds for Time:
50 doubles
14 Alternating DB snatch
10 Pull-ups

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