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Guide to Foundational CrossFit Moves: Part 2

In the first part of this series, we looked at three foundational squat variations for CrossFit. Today, we move on some shoulder-focused pushing exercises – the shoulder press, push press, and push jerk. It is vital to perfect form on these before increasing load because there is potential for shoulder and back injury. These are progressively more complex movements, and they are powerful upper body and core strengtheners.

Shoulder Press

While it may seem like the shoulder press, also known as the overhead press (OHP) is strictly an upper body move, it actually recruits muscle throughout the body. As you use the shoulders and arms to push the bar above you, you must use your core and lower body to balance. The narrow grip prevents your elbows from flaring out, putting unnecessary pressure on the joints. Pressing the shoulders up into the bar as if you are shrugging engages the traps, preventing shoulder impingement.

  • Hip-width stance
  • Hands just outside of shoulders
  • Elbows slightly in front of the bar
  • Full grip on the bar
  • Bar moves over the middle of the foot
  • Torso and legs static
  • Heels down
  • Shoulders press up into the bar
  • Complete at full arm extension

Push Press

This move starts at the legs and then moves into the upper body and shoulders, essentially kick-starting the exercise and allowing lifters to use a little more weight than in a standard shoulder press. Strive to get your elbows  just under your wrists, so you can press up without torquing the elbows. Other form cues to follow are:

  • Hip-width stance
  • Hands just outside of shoulders
  • Elbows slightly in front of the bar
  • Full grip on the bar
  • Bar rests on torso
  • Torso dips straight down
  • Hips and legs extend, then press
  • Heel down until hips and legs extend
  • Bar moves over the middle of the foot
  • Complete at full hip, knee, and arm extension

Push Jerk

This explosive, full-body move takes a bit more finesse to pull off proper form than the shoulder press or push press, but it is an incredible strength builder. The move is also known as a power jerk and only differs from the split jerk in that you land in a partial squat instead of a partial lunge. Keep the following form cues in mind when practicing this move:

  • Hip-width stance
  • Hands just outside of shoulders
  • Elbows slightly in front of bar
  • Full grip on the bar
  • Torso dips straight down
  • Hips and legs extend rapidly and then press under
  • Receive the bar in a partial overhead
  • Heels stay down until hips and legs extend
  • Bar moves over the middle of the foot
  • Complete at full hip, knee, and arm extension

Photo by Big Titan

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