19 Best Press Exercises – Ultimate Guide To Building An Impressive Upper Body

The human body was built for pushing and pulling.

If you think about any of the day-to-day tasks you perform you are likely pushing or pulling.

Think about opening and closing a door, you are pushing it or pulling it.

Push and pull splits have become really popular with strength training.

But to give your body a complete workout you need to hit your legs as well.

But those are the 3 easiest ways to break up a training program.

So if you were to split your training up over the week you could do 6 days.

Push one day, pull the next day, and legs the following. repeat this twice and then have a rest day.

And you’ve training your whole body twice a week.

Pretty simple to break it up right.

Push exercises also go by press sometimes as well.

You get exercises like a push-up and that also gets called press-up in parts of the world.

But at the end of the day, it’s the same exercise.

But that’s enough beating around the bush!

Let’s have a look at the 11 best press exercises.

  1. Overhead Press – Overhead press, shoulder press, military press the list goes on of names this exercise has. But the overhead press has to be a staple in your shoulder training. This is compound exercise is probably the hardest to progress on. Out of all the compound movements, this one is using typically the smaller muscle groups. It’s a pretty start forward exercise to do though and can be done with a barbell, dumbbells, kettlebells, or resistance bands. keep your core tight and avoid arching your lower back and you press the weight straight up about your head.
  2. Bench Press – Everybody’s favorite exercise right? There is always a line for the bench press at the gym, it seems like every day is chest day. Another great compound exercise though and can be done on an incline or decline bench. And just like overhead press, it can be done with lots of different equipment. Try doing a single-arm bench press with dumbbells to give your core a greater workout. Just don’t forget to work both sides of your body!
  3. Land Mine Press – I’m not going to lie, I’ve always thought these looked really cool when I saw people doing them. While most people do them with the correct equipment I have seen them done just by putting the end of the barbell into the corner of a room. This is a very effective overhead exercise often used for improving punching power.
  4. Push Up/Press Up – Has to be seen as the king of bodyweight exercises. If you played a team sport as a kid chance are you did plenty of push-ups. Often used as punishment for getting to practice late. Push-ups are my favorite core exercises. That’s right I said core. When you do a pushup with the correct form your core is tight keeping you nice and straight.
  5. Bottoms Up Press – This one needs to be done with a kettlebell, but leave your ego at the door. Holding a kettlebell upside down is hard enough without trying to press it up as well. So don’t use too much weight, to begin with. Start slow with this shoulder exercise that doubles as a core burner!
  6. Incline Press – Incline press changes the angle of a bench press. All you have to do is set the bench to an incline angle or an upright bench and you’ll target the upper chest.
  7. Decline Press – This guy gets a little trickier as you need to lie down the bench but unlike the incline bench press, the decline press is targeting the lower chest muscles.
  8. Behind Neck Press – Just by setting up the bar behind your neck with an overhead press you are really going to test your shoulder mobility. So just like the bottoms-up press start light and build into it.
  9. Close Hand Push Up – Close hand push-ups are a great way to bring your triceps in more. After all your triceps are pushing muscles and need to be trained on push day as well. Another one of my favorite bodyweight exercises.
  10. Dips – Now I’m not a big fan of dips on a bench. When you bring your hands behind your back you are putting your shoulders into a really compromising position. I would much rather you do your dips on the straight bar or parallel bars. When done that way, dips are an excellent bodyweight exercise for your triceps.
  11. Hand Stand Push Up – When done free-standing, in the middle of the room, handstand push-ups are one of the hardest calisthenics movements. Up against the wall is a much easier way to build up the strength required for this exercise. But at the end of the day up if that’s as far as you get, up against the wall, be proud, even that is pretty difficult to achieve.
  12. Arnold Press – Invented by Arnold Schwarzenegger himself. This is a great exercise for hitting all three muscles in the shoulders. Just by starting with your dumbbells out in front of your face in an underhand grip, almost like you are ready to do some boxing. And then as you press through you rotate your hands 180 degrees and finish the press with your knuckles facing behind you. This is one of the best shoulder exercises you can do with a pair of dumbbells.

And I have 7 more for you to come.

What a bargain!

What Are Your Pushing Muscles?

Our back muscles are responsible for most of our pulling actions.

And you can almost say the same about the muscles on the front of our body all being push muscles.

Your chest is the major muscle in most pushing exercises, your shoulders, and your triceps are the other major pushing muscles.

And honestly, all these muscles are easy to hit with body weight exercises.

It’s easy enough to do push days as home workouts but pull days can be a bit harder.

People don’t always rate bodyweight workouts but it really easy to get great muscle activation when you do simple calisthenic movements with good form.

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What Are Some Chest Exercises?

The best chest exercises you can be doing are.

  1. Bench Press
  2. Push-ups
  3. Chest flies

What Are Some Shoulder Exercises?

The best shoulder exercises you can be doing are.

  1. Shoulder Press
  2. Push Press
  3. Arnold Press
  4. Front Raises
  5. Lateral Raises

What Are Some Tricep Exercises?

The best tricep exercises you can be doing are.

  1. Close Hand Bench Press
  2. Close Hand Push-Ups
  3. Dips
  4. Skull Crushers
  5. Tricep Pull Downs

What Is An Example Of A Pressing Exercise?

Let’s break this all down further, while our body is designed for pushing and pulling. We can do both of these things vertically and horizontally.

A pull-up would be a vertical pull while a row would be a horizontal row.

So let’s have a look at how to split up our pushes into vertical and horizontal.

Examples Of Vertical Push

  1. Shoulder Press
  2. Handstand Push up
  3. Arnold Press
  4. Dips

Examples Of Horizontal Push

  1. Bench Press
  2. Push up
  3. Chest Flies

So pretty much our chest exercises are horizontal pushes while our shoulder exercises are vertical.

Triceps fit into both. So when you decide to do a push day, make sure you get a mix of both vertical and horizontal.

Most of the exercises we’ve looked at have been compound exercises as well.

This is one of the smartest ways to train.

Compound exercises use more than one joint and in turn more muscles groups.

Compound exercises are great for giving the smaller muscles are chance to lift heavy weight.

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How Do You Structure A Push Workout?

The best way to program a push workout is by doing a mix of both vertical and horizontal pushes.

And with any workout, it’s a good idea to start off with compound exercises.

So if you have one start off with the barbell before moving into the other free weights like dumbbells or kettlebells.

That being said you can easily get a push workout down with a resistance band.

Resistance bands are my favorite way to train.

I take them with me everywhere, and as a personal trainer, most of my clients are now doing their sessions with bands as well.

So you can see just how great they are download your FREE copy of my EBook Train wherever the f*ck you want!

I give you a full rundown on how to structure a full-body workout with bands and even give you a sample push pull legs program!

How Do You Do Push Exercises At Home?

Doing a push day at home is easy.

Push-ups, dips, pike pushups can be done anywhere!

And it’s not too difficult to train your entire body either.

But let’s get back to pushing muscles.

Push-ups really are a great strength exercise, it has multiple exercise variations, you can do them at different angles to target more muscle groups as well!

Just by lifting one foot off the floor, it’s going to test your core stability.

One-arm push-ups are another way to get more out of push-ups.

Sure they can be quite intimidating but they also might not be as far out of reach as you think.

Try set up with your feet much wider than shoulder width.

The wider the better and keep your right arm under the center of your chest.

Keep your left arm ready as you lower yourself down.

If you can push back up yet that’s fine, doing slow controlled negative reps is a great way to build up the strength for the full exercise.

Check out this video that shows you all my tips for getting more out of push-ups!

Can You Train Push And Pull The Same Day?

Training push and pull on the same day is fine. Training them both every single day is not.

Your muscles need to rest.

If you’ve done a full-body, or upper body day you should probably have a rest day the next day.

That being said training push and pull back to back in the same workout is a great way to burn calories and build muscle.

I love training set supers of a push muscle followed by a pull movement. The combination of them fatigues you so much faster!