How to Push (Push It Real Good)

April 6, 2022
4 min read

Let's push! Pushing is one of our foundational movements we work on at THP. Now, there are two different parts to pushing. We have our vertical push, which is any movement that presses overhead. We also have our horizontal push; this would be any movement that presses away from the torso. Both are vitally important for performance in everyday life and sport.

Before jumping right into pressing, consider a few safety precautions. Or, leave it to the THP team to evaluate how you move! Through our Performance Assessment, we look at the fine details of all your movement patterns, including your ability to push both vertically and horizontally. With that being said, let's dive deeper into the "shoulds" and "shouldn'ts" of how to push.

Horizontal Pressing

Up first is horizontal pressing, or any movement extending away from the torso. An simple example of this would be the push-up. While it might seem as though horizontal pressing focuses on just the upper body, it can also improve core stability as well as total body stability. To do this style of pressing correctly, the core needs to be engaged and set properly. Without stability in the core, you'll actually be limited from reaching your truest strength.

Horizontal pressing also allows you to use our lower body as an anchor while the upper body is moving. This kind of anchoring is beneficial in day to day movements, such as pushing away a box, as well as in sport, like passing a basketball.

Lastly, when the core is locked and the lower body is anchored, then the upper body can really exude force production. That's when the magic happens! By increasing force production, we are able to increase our performance on the field and in life.

At THP, we implement horizontal pressing in various ways. In addition to the classic push up, members also might in their programs a floor press, tall kneeling cable presses, split lunge cable presses, and more. You can check out examples of horizontal pressing here.

Vertical Pressing

Next up, we dive into vertical pressing. To reiterate, this kind of pressing is any movement that is pressed above the shoulder joint or overhead. To get your mind churning on this, a standard example would be an overhead barbell press. The ability to push overhead, both without pain and in an efficient manner, applied across life and sport. Think of putting heavy glassware on the top shelf, setting a volleyball, going up for a rebound in basketball, or catching a football. Within each of these actions, they are done through the ability to reach overhead.

In order to safely and efficient display the overhead position, we must have the shoulder mobility to do so combined with the stability to maintain posture and position of the joint. During the Performance Assessment at THP, we unveil if someone has a limitation with their overhead positioning. This could show up as not having the mobility or stability to access the overhead position entirely, so we have many different exercises that still train vertical pressing without putting the member at risk of compromising the joint.

One of the most basic exercises we implement for vertical pressing is the supine dying bug. The dying bug allows you to get into the overhead position while also working on core and trunk stability. This is the same motion as someone would do standing but with reduced risk of compromising the movement. Then, after understanding these stability fundamentals from a supine position, the next progression would be to a quadruped overhead reach. Continued progressions for overhead pressing include a half kneeling landmine press then finally a standing DB shoulder press.

For guidance and further explanation for vertical pressing exercises, check out our video on vertical pressing!


Now that we've reviewed the importance of both vertical and horizontal pressing, you might be raring to go on adding some presses to your training regimen! While pressing should indeed be a regular part of your workouts, be sure to check on your movement abilities. Your shoulder joint function depends on the mobility and stability across your entire body. That's the purpose of THP's Performance Assessment. We meet you where you are and stay with you along the way as you make progress toward the big exercises like barbell bench press or barbell push press.

Now go push it (push it real good) in life and in sport!


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