Fitness for Body, Mind and Spirit

GreenNote Life

Fitness for the body, mind & spirit

  • Facebook Basic Square
  • Twitter Basic Square
  • Google+ Basic Square

Thoughtful Thursday…An exercise for strength and calorie burn...


Welcome to Thoughtful Thursday. This GreenNote Fitness newsletter mindfully gathers and distills useful information that is supportive to our journey. It is my mission to educate, inspire, and propel you into action that moves you towards your goals and life of purpose. Take control of your journey today.

You may have read my recent newsletters for healthier and stronger shoulders; The exercise for healthier and stronger shoulders; 3 exercises for healthier shoulders.

To keep shoulders healthy we need to build strength. Strong shoulders also help with good posture, especially needed to combat the effects of extended periods of sitting and staring down at our devices.

Strong, healthy shoulders, great! What about burning calories while building stronger and healthier shoulders? I got you covered.

Enter the Dumbbell Push-Press

Dumbbell Push press start position
Dumbbell pushpress Finish position

A simple definition of a dumbbell push-press is a "standing overhead press with momentum done from the lower body”. Holding dumbbells at your shoulders, you squat slightly in a quick movement and then extend hips and knees to get the weights moving upward as you lock out your elbows with a pressing motion.

This is considered an explosive movement that works many muscles to move the weight overhead all while keeping the neck, shoulders, spine, wrists stable.

Muscles worked:

  • Glutes- prime movers during the quarter-squat portion of the exercise, they help explosively extend the hips to generate the power that propels the dumbbells overhead.

  • Quadriceps- they help to bend the knees as you squat and work to extend them when you rise up

  • Core- abdominals, obliques, and spinal erectors all work to to stabilize the spine. The more weight you use, the harder they work to stabilize and keep the spine in a safe, neutral position.

  • Deltoids- part of the shoulder, they are the prime mover when driving the weights overhead.

  • Trapezius- this muscle helps to stabilize the upper back and shoulders and helps you from rounding your shoulders forward during the lift.

  • Triceps- they work with the deltoids to extend the arms overhead and lock out the elbows.

  • Forearms- the wrist flexors and extensors stabilize the wrists throughout the exercise

Dumbbell Push-Press Moves:

  • Grab a pair of dumbbells and hold at your shoulders with palms facing each other. With feet shoulder-width apart, brace your core.

  • Drop quickly into a quarter-squat and explode up, using your momentum to drive the dumbbells overhead. The emphasis here is on doing a quarter-squat (it’s not a full squat, nor is it done at a slow pace both of which defeats the purpose of the exercise). Keep your head, spine, and pelvis in line so your back is flat and your eyes are forward.

  • Most of the power for the press is provided by your lower body. As soon as you have partially squatted down, extend your hips and knees explosively to stand up straight, simultaneously press the weights straight overhead. Keep your core tight throughout the move to keep the spine stable. Lower weights back to your shoulders and drop your hips to move into the next rep.

Benefits of Dumbbell Push-Press:

  • Increased upper and lower body strength and power

  • Improved conditioning - using the legs helps the shoulders so you can do more reps which will burn lots of calories and increase your heart rate

  • Improved core stability - core is working hard to stabilize the body

  • Improved shoulder stability - controlling two dumbbells overhead provides a challenge to your shoulder stability as the arms are free to move. Your joints can find the range of motion that’s best for them making this move safer and more joint-friendly than a barbell push-press for example

Sets, Reps, and When to Use the Push-Press

If your goal is for conditioning, using the push-press exercise more towards the end of your workout is perfectly fine. Complete three sets of 15 repetitions including it in your dumbbell circuit. What this means is you could you use it as part of your Complex Circuit. Grab a pair of dumbbells and use this same weight for each exercise move without setting them down.

Complete 3 sets of:

  • Dumbbell push-press

  • Dumbbell bent-over row

  • Dumbbell RDL (Romanian Deadlift)

  • Dumbbell clean

The Dumbbell Push-Press is a great exercise for building strength in the shoulders as they are working hard to stabilize the weight as they are pushed overhead. Recruiting the larger muscles of legs, the core, the back in a fast and controlled manner not only elevates the heart rate but also burns a lot of calories. The above circuit would be great also if you are traveling or short on time and want to get your work-out on.

Give the push-press a go and let me know what you think!

Enjoy your journey,

Lisa Schaffer

GreenNote Fitness

You wouldn’t happen to know just one person that would benefit from this information? Please forward it to them!

Did you miss last week’s newsletter on An exercise to build strength, stability and restore balance …?

P.S. Check out my Facebook page for inspiration.

P.P.S. Discover GreenNote Fitness recommendations for books, podcasts, and more on body, mind, and spirit.

P.P.P.S. Find out what products I personally use.

Featured Posts