The push press
behind the neck is a variation of the push press that creates a more direct bar path and can help with mobility and upper back strength.
Secure the bar behind your neck as you would for a back squat
with your jerk-width grip, the feet at approximately hip-width, and the toes turned out slightly. Keep the weight balanced on the heels while maintaining full foot contact with the floor. Bend slightly at the knees only, keeping the trunk vertical and the weight on the heels. Transition immediately at the bottom of this dip and drive aggressively with the legs against the floor to accelerate the barbell upward. As you finish the extension of the legs, begin pushing against the bar with the arms, keeping the knees straight and immediately dropping back to flat feet. Push the bar directly vertically into a fully locked overhead position as you would in the jerk
. Note that when starting from behind the neck, the torso will begin in the same very slightly forward inclination it should have when finishing in the proper overhead position, and the bar needs to travel directly vertically from its starting position—no horizontal movement of the bar or torso should occur.
If the knees rebend at all after the initial dip and drive, the lift is no longer a push press, but a push jerk
. If the feet remain totally flat during the drive of the legs, the drive is not hard or long enough—the heels will rise at least slightly if the leg drive is adequate. Each rep of multiple-rep sets should begin from a dead stop to ensure proper positioning and balance, and to train the elasticity and timing of the dip and drive fully.
The push press behind the neck is an effective upper body strength exercise for the jerk
that can be used instead of the push press
in cases of wrist or elbow injuries that prevent the lifter from lifting from the jerk rack position
, to work on upper back mobility and strength, or to teach, train or reinforce the proper overhead position. Additionally, it helps train the dip and drive for the jerk, although with the bar behind the neck, the very slight forward inclination of the trunk does mean that the dip and drive position is not identical to the push press
Sets of 1-6 reps can be used depending on the timing and the specific need. 4-6 reps will help more with hypertrophy and some strength; 3-5 reps will be generally the most effective for strength work and some hypertrophy; 1-2 reps will usually be used for testing maximum lifts but will also improve strength.