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Strict Press vs. Push Press vs. Push Jerk - What Is The Difference?

Building strong shoulders should be a goal for any athlete. Strong doesn’t necessarily mean “bulky”; don’t get these two terms mixed up! There’s plenty of girls out there who have extremely strong shoulders but don’t look bulky.


If you are starting out with your fitness journey, we bet that you get confused with all of the different movement names. To help you out, this article lists out the different shoulder movements that you should be doing to establish great upper body strength.


In this blog, we will discuss three overhead press variations: push jerk, push press, and strict press. We will also briefly explain the difference between all three.


The Strict Press


The strict press, also known as the “shoulder press” is the most difficult out of the three shoulder movements we will discuss today. During this movement, you are required to lift the weight from the front rack and bring it overhead through the force generated by your upper body. You ARE NOT allowed to use your legs in this movement, which makes it extremely difficult to lift heavy weights.


When starting this workout, you must engage your core, from where the power will radiate to the upper body extremities. A strong core is critical to moving heavy loads overhead with the strict press. You should actually think of this exercise as an ab exercise, where a strong core & tight glutes makes the lift much easier.


It is easy to see when you are not sufficiently engaging the abs in an overhead press—your body will arch, pushing the hips, pelvis, and stomach ahead of the bar. If you feel your body bending too much in this movement, we strongly recommend dropping the weight and focusing on your “form”.


Whilst the strict press is arguably the most difficult movement to complete, it is also the least technical. Anybody should be able to complete a strict press without much practice.



How To: Set Up For A Strict Press

  1. Take the bar from the rack and place it onto your shoulders

  2. Grip the bar with your hands slightly wider than the shoulder width

  3. Keep your elbows high and position your hands right underneath the bar

  4. Engage your core and squeeze your glutes

  5. Now, press the bar overhead


Benefits of Strict Press

Strict press is a highly beneficial movement because it:

  • Builds raw upper body strength

  • Teaches you to engage your core and midline

  • Establishes a baseline overhead strength

Best Strict Press Workout

Complete a 10 minute AMRAP:

  • 15 Kettlebell swings

  • 10 strict presses, using a barbell or 2 dumbbells


The Push Press


The push press is an overhead movement that brings your lower body into action. This movement typically involves getting under the bar using a dip of the legs, and using that momentum to help lift the bar overhead. The additional muscles that assist your shoulders in lifting the load in this workout are your hip flexors, spinal erectors, glutes, and quadriceps.


With the push press, you will be able to move overhead as much as 30 percent more weight than with the shoulder press. Regular practice of the push press—and the push jerk—develops power and speed, which will continue to enhance your overhead strength.




How To: Set Up For A Push Press

  1. Take the bar from the rack and place it onto your shoulders

  2. Grip the bar with your hands slightly wider than the shoulder width

  3. Keep your elbows high and position your hands right underneath the bar

  4. Now, you will need to initiate the dip. For that, bend your hips and knees. Make sure that your torso remains in an upright position

  5. Forcefully extend your hips and legs. Use your arms and shoulders to press the bar overhead as soon as the hips and legs are extended. You should feel like the momentum created during the hips and legs extension has helped you lift the load

Benefits of Push Press

Push press allows you to lift 30% of what you can lift with a strict press. Not only does this workout help you build strength, but it can also help you train for increased speed and power.

Best Push Press Workout

Complete a 10 minute AMRAP:

  • 10 calorie row

  • 10 push presses, using a barbell or 2 dumbbells


The Push Jerk


A push jerk is the most complex movement of all three overhead exercises discussed in this blog. This is because it requires accurate timing and speed to execute the move.


It feels like an odd movement as it actually forces you to get under the bar (versus pushing the bar over your head). At the point of “pushing”, you must attempt to drop their body under the load. After that, the weight is lifted using most of the strength coming from the legs.


The jerk press starts just like a push press. However, the first movement is quickly followed by a dip under the weight. This allows an athlete to keep the weight overhead with locked arms and stand up with the weight overhead.


The purpose of dropping under the weight is to reduce the distance it must cover. By doing so, you can lift heavier loads.



How To: Set Up A Push Jerk

  1. The initial phase of the push jerk is similar to a push press

  2. You will then have to get under the load by dipping quickly

  3. You won’t be pressing the load overhead. Instead, you will press and dip at the same time, getting into a partial squat position while keeping the arms extended above your head

  4. In the final step, you will have to stand up with your arms locked in an extended position. Ensure that your knees and hips fully extend at the end of this move.

Benefits of Push Jerk

With the help of a push jerk, you will be able to lift 30% more weight than with a push press (and 60% more weight than a strict press). This movement helps you improve your coordination, timing, speed, power, ability to lift heavier loads & proficiency in Olympic lifting.

Best Push Jerk Workout

A famous workout which includes push jerks is “DT”:

  • 12 deadlifts

  • 9 hang power cleans

  • 6 push jerks


Difference between a Strict Press, Push Press, and Push Jerk

The three above workouts all serve different purposes however they all build power, speed & strength.

Generally, the movements become increasingly challenging when moving from a strict press to a push press and then a push jerk. A strict press only works on your upper body, meaning that your lower body will remain static. On the other hand, the push press and push jerk involve your lower body, primarily due to heavier loads.

Your midline strength also plays a vital role in all these exercises. For example, your core is only used for stabilization during a strict or shoulder press. In a push press, however, your abs become more active as they not only have to assist in stability but also support the dip and drive. The push jerk involves your entire midline to support the dip, drive, second dip, and squat. The role of the hips increases when you move from a strict press to a push jerk.


So, which one of these exercises should you incorporate into your next workout?


Most likely all three. They all serve a different purpose and collectively allow you to build the shoulder strength that you have always wanted!

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