There are numerous overhead press exercises that many weightlifters may not bother to remember. However, one exercise that stands out as an excellent alternative to the barbell overhead press is the dumbbell push press. A study conducted by the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research compared the effects of performing upper-body resistance exercises with dumbbells versus barbells and in a standing versus seated position. The study concluded that standing shoulder presses demonstrated the highest neuromuscular activity in the deltoid muscles due to the stability requirements. This makes the dumbbell push press a valuable addition to your workout routine, as it allows for lower body engagement and potentially superior strength gains. In this guide, we will take you through the step-by-step process of performing the dumbbell push press, ensuring proper form and reducing the risk of injury.
Before we delve into the details of the dumbbell push press, it is important to note that this exercise can also help build explosiveness. To begin, it is recommended to start with lighter weights in order to focus on mastering the movement mechanics. Additionally, caution should be exercised when selecting the weight, ensuring that it is manageable and safe to handle.
Step One: Get into the Starting Position
To begin the dumbbell push press, select two dumbbells of an appropriate weight. Stand upright with your feet shoulder-width apart and hold the dumbbells against your thighs with a neutral grip. Lift the dumbbells to shoulder level by flexing your elbows. Before you even pick up the dumbbells, take a moment to focus on your breathing. A deep inhale and a slow exhale can help you mentally prepare and improve your overall stability.
Step Two: Slightly Flex Your Hips, Knees, and Ankles
After assuming the starting position, create momentum by slightly bending your hips, knees, and ankles simultaneously. Keep your core braced as you dip your legs. Visualizing the lift before you start moving can be incredibly useful. Imagine the smooth, explosive motion as you flex your hips, knees, and ankles. This mental rehearsal can help you execute the lift with precision and power.
Step Three: Initiate the Concentric Phase
According to Newton’s third law, every action has an equal and opposite reaction. By flexing your hips, knees, and ankles, you elongate your working muscles and build up “free energy” in your tendons, particularly the Achilles tendon. When you achieve the bottom position after flexing your ankles, knees, and hips, it’s time for an equal or potentially stronger extension. Forcefully extend your ankles, knees, and hips, using that momentum to push both dumbbells toward the ceiling. Simultaneously flex your shoulders and extend your elbows to move both dumbbells into the overhead position. The top position is achieved when your elbows are locked out. As you start extending your hips, knees, and ankles, think about driving through your mid-foot to effectively engage the lower body and transfer energy into pushing the dumbbells overhead.
Step Four: Initiate the Eccentric Phase
With both dumbbells in the top position, it’s time to begin the lowering or eccentric phase. Slowly and with utmost control, lower both dumbbells to the starting position by flexing your elbows and extending your shoulders. If your mobility allows it, position the dumbbells over your shoulders at the bottom. This completes one rep, and you can proceed with the next one. There are two ways to execute the eccentric phase. The first involves quickly lowering the dumbbells to your shoulders while bending your hips, knees, and ankles to absorb the landing impact. The second method emphasizes slow eccentrics. Choose the option that aligns with your goals. For the eccentric phase, controlling the descent not only helps with muscle development but also reduces the risk of injury. Focus on a slow and controlled lowering motion to optimize muscle growth and joint health.
The dumbbell push press primarily targets the front deltoids, triceps brachii, and quadriceps. It also engages the core muscles, upper chest, lower back, glutes, hamstrings, and calves to a lesser extent. By performing this exercise, you can increase your upper body strength, particularly in the triceps brachii, pectoralis major, and front deltoid muscles. Additionally, the dumbbell push press helps improve shoulder stability, as free weights are known to enhance stabilizer muscle function.
In conclusion, the dumbbell push press is a valuable exercise that can contribute to your overall strength, muscle mass, and stability. By following the step-by-step guide and practicing proper form, you can reap the benefits of this exercise while minimizing the risk of injury. Remember to start with lighter weights and gradually increase the load as you become more comfortable with the movement. Incorporate the dumbbell push press into your workout routine to enhance your upper body strength and overall fitness.