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8 Best Vertical Push Exercises

vertical push exercises

Vertical push exercises are one of the basic movement patterns that traing large muscle groups like shoulders, chest, and triceps. Let’s take a closer look at what these exercises are and the muscles they work.

What Are Vertical Push Exercises

All exercises involving lifting the weight vertically in relation to your body can be called vertical push exercises. By practicing these movements, you are training your shoulder muscles to make them bigger and stronger. As the humerus (the upper arm bone) is connected to your shoulder muscles, your shoulder muscles assist you in moving your arms. That’s why strengthening your shoulders improve your functionality and enhances your athletic appearance. 

Vertical push exercises are perfect for those who want to develop push power. There are many options for exercising. Some require equipment while others can be done anywhere.

Here are the best vertical push exercises:

  • Military Press
  • Landmine Press
  • Arnold Press
  • Dumbbell Shoulder Press
  • Cable Machine Press
  • Handstand Pushup
  • Smith Machine Press
  • Pike Pushup

Read on to know everything you need about the moves’ proper form and benefits.

1. Military Press

It’s one of the best shoulder exercises that also trains your upper chest, triceps, core, and even your glutes, biceps, and lats at work. The move is deservedly considered one of the best ones for building strength.

How to do military press:

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Grab the bar off the floor or pick it up off the rack.
  • Bring the weight under your chin, bending your arms and keeping your elbows tucked in.
  • Push the bar up, fully extending your arms. Push all the way up to benefit from the full range of motion.
  • Don’t let your shoulders come forward. Keep your wrists above your elbows, maintaining a 90-degree angle.
  • Come back to the start, putting the bar in the area between your collarbone and chin.

2. Landmine Press

While primarily working your delts, the landmine press also engages the upper body. It’s a single-arm move that improves your strength and core balance. Compared to the standard overhead press, this move puts less stress on your joints. To practice the exercise, you need the barbell and landmine attachment.

How to do landmine press:

  • Put the plate on one side of the bar, and fix the other in the landmine attachment (or just stick it in the corner).
  • Pay attention to your feet’ stance. The foot on the side you are pressing with should be back. The other foot stays ahead on the distance of a step.
  • Grab the bar with one hand and raise it to the shoulder line. Keep the bar a little out to the side. Don’t let your elbows flare out.
  • Press the weight up. You don’t want to be hyperextended or rounded with your back. Keep your spine neutral.
  • Return to the starting position.

3. Arnold Press

This workout, introduced to the world by Arnold Schwarzenegger, enhances all three heads of the deltoid muscles. Thanks to the rotation movement, it also works the chest area and improves your mobility.

How to do Arnold press:

  • Grab a pair of dumbbells.
  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Bent your elbows and keep dumbbells with your palms facing in. That’s your starting position.
  • Turn your arms out and press up, keeping the shoulders down. Maintain a neutral spine, and avoid back hyperextension at the movement’s top.
  • Lower dumbbells in a controlled motion. When you come back to the starting position, bring the elbows tight to your ribs. 

4. Dumbbell Shoulder Press

Dumbbell shoulder press offers an athlete a full range of motion, loading anterior delts to the maximum. Secondarily, the movement targets the upper back, trapezius, and pecs.

How to do dumbbell shoulder press:

  • Find a seat with an upright back, grab the dumbbells, and sit so that your feet are firmly on the floor.
  • Keep your back against the pad and your arms bent, holding the dumbbells slightly over your shoulders. The elbows should be in line with your hips.
  • Push the weights straight up. Use a full range of motion to load your muscles to the maximum.
  • Come down, maintaining your wrists straight and holding dumbbells slightly in front of your body. Lower the weights on your elbows, staying in line with your hips.

5. Cable Machine Press

The exercise primarily works the triceps and chest muscles. As the name states, you need a cable machine to practice this movement. The cable machine’s best benefit is it offers constant tension in both the top and bottom parts of the movement. That’s why muscles get more work and better strength gains. 

How to do cable machine press:

  • Attach the pulley to the low position. Grab the handles (bar), and take one step off the cable machine. 
  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, facing the machine. Bring the handles (bar) to your collarbone level. Keep the elbows bent at a 90-degree angle.
  • Press up, keeping your spine neutral and tight. Drive straight all the way up over your shoulders.
  • Come back to the starting position in a slow controlled motion.

6. Handstand Pushup 

Handstand push-ups are effective for building upper body strength. The move targets the shoulders, chest, arms, and back. Also, the exercise is versatile. You can regulate the load by practicing it against the wall, using resistance bands and bars, or choosing a freestanding variant if you are strong enough. We will describe the wall variation.

How to do handstand push-ups:

  • Begin the exercise standing completely vertical near the wall. You’ll need to put some soft cushioning on the ground since your head will contact the ground throughout this exercise.
  • Get on your fours, stand on your arms and lean on the wall behind your back. Make sure your arms are shoulder-width apart.
  • Perform push-ups. Make sure your elbows are tracking over your wrists while pushing. Lock out your arms fully at the top. 
  • Maintain your chin in place, and your core engaged and tight.

7. Smith Machine Press 

Many athletes love the smith machine press because it is suitable for any fitness level and isolates shoulder muscles well.

How to do smith machine press:

  • Sit under the bar with your feet firmly on the ground and lean your back on the padding.
  • Grab the bar with shoulder-width apart grip.
  • Breath out. Push up with your maximum strength on the way up. Lock out your elbows at the top to get the full muscle contraction.
  • Breathe in. Bring the bar down to the chest level. Hold the bar as close as possible to your body.

8. Pike Pushup

The exercise is perfect for building the strength, endurance, and stability, needed for many other challenging workouts. This exercise works your shoulders, arms, chest, back, and core. No equipment is needed. You can enjoy all the benefits by investing only your time in it.

How to do pike push-ups:

  • Start by placing some soft padding on the ground.
  • Get on your fours, bringing your buttocks up. Your hands should stay on the floor with palms facing the ground, shoulder-width apart. The legs stand on the toes with straight knees.
  • Drop the head between the arms and flatten the lower back. Your body form should remind you of the A letter.
  • Bend both elbows and bring the top of your head to the floor. Look through your legs. 
  • Come back to the starting position. Ensure your head stays between the arms as you do push-ups.

What Muscles Do Vertical Push Exercises Work?

The primarily targeted muscle is the anterior deltoid. Other muscles worked may vary depending on the certain movement. But in most cases, vertical push exercises load:

  • lateral deltoid
  • supraspinatus
  • triceps brachii
  • middle and lower trapezius
  • serratus anterior
  • upper pectoralis major

What Are The Best Bodyweight Vertical Push Exercises?

Try bodyweight alternatives if you value freedom and want to practice vertical push exercises anywhere and without equipment. Most of this category includes variations of pike push-ups and handstand push-ups. The list is not big, but these exercises are enough to develop muscles and make progress.

What Vertical Push Exercises Can Be Done At Home?

If you have a bar or dumbbells at home, most vertical push exercises are available. But even without inventory, you can effectively exercise at home. For example, you can practice pike push-ups and handstand push-ups. This requires nothing but your time and your body weight. To diversify your home workouts, you can buy bands and try variations of the mentioned exercises with extra resistance.


Vertical push exercises imply moving the weight up from the torso above the head. If you’re looking for a way to challenge your shoulders, make them bigger, and improve your functionality, this category of workouts is for you. You can use dumbbells, bars, cable, or smith machines to practice these movements. If you prefer bodyweight exercises, you still have a choice. Try handstand or pike push-ups to improve your pushing power at home.

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