In an earlier article we discussed the Z Press and the wide array of benefits that can come from performing such a functional and movement-challenging exercise. In that article, we also went over the specific reasons why lifters and coaches should integrate these into training session and what common Z Press variations can deliver the best results.
Therefore, in this article, we wanted to dive in a little deeper regarding the training outcomes and benefits of the Z Press to further challenge and motivate coaches and athletes to become more comfortable with this pressing exercise.
What Is a Z Press?
The Z Press is a pressing variation that works the upper back, traps, shoulders, and core to facilitate better overhead mechanics, upper boy hypertrophy, and control. The lift starts with the athlete being seated on the floor with the legs straight, either in front of the body, of split open into a “V” for extra stability. By doing so, the lifter must learn to stay upright, braced, and fully open the shoulder joint/chest or else the bar with not get into the proper position.
How to Do a Z Press
In the below video, the barbell, dumbbell, and kettlebell Z Press are demonstrated. Note how the legs remain rigid and straight with the toes upright. This will help to increase quadriceps and hip flexor activity, necessary for pressing overhead (or any movement for that matter).
4 Benefits of the Z Press
In this section we will discuss four primary benefits of the Z Press, all of which are not dependent on the specific variation used (barbell, kettlebell, unilateral loss, etc) but rather dependent on the actual movement patterning as a whole
Shoulder and Upper Trap Hypertrophy
The Z Press can targeted the shoulder, upper traps, and upper back muscles very effectively, making it a great way to add quality hypertrophy work in for those body parts, while still staying functional in movement. This pressing variation forces a lifter to still stay balance in the anterior and posterior aspects of the shoulder and upper body, making it a great choice for athletes (who need to be mobile and balance for sport) to add quality hypertrophy training into sessions without becoming too rigid and/or lose movement/range of motion.
The Z Press builds quality movement patterning, muscle, and therefore can be used over time to increase strength and performance. By managing overhead pressing integrity and forcing lifters to be balanced in the shoulder and upper back/scapular stabilizers coaches and athletes can then translate the movement patterning and stability onto barbell overhead presses, jerks, push presses, and more.
Bracing and contracting the abdominals, obliques, and even erector spinae is necessary for this seated overhead pressing movement. The Z Press does not allow a lifter to compensate for poor overhead mobility or lack of scapular control like other movements that allow for excessive lumbar extension. Building stronger core muscles will not only boost overhead strength and performance, but also increase your ability to resist injury at the spine while lifting heavy.
Maintaining proper overhead pressing mechanics, balanced muscular development, and proper scapular control and strength can play a huge role in the longevity of the shoulder joint (and surrounding tissues and ligaments) for athletes and non-athletes alike. The Z Press can help bulletproof shoulders and help athletes and coaches get more out of their pressing programming.
Build Stronger Shoulders Now
Building strength is a long-term endeavor, however you can do exercises and other things to really accelerate your strength gains and muscle mass (and improve joint health and function). Check out the tips and articles below and get to work on building those boulders for shoulders!
Editor’s Note: Andrew Park, a BarBend reader, student, and climber based out of Grand Junction, Colorado, had the following to say after reading the above article:
“Shoulder strength and stability is a huge aspect of climbing and proper endurance and mobility exercises can make or break your performance on the wall. A great workout that I personally implement is the overhead shoulder press, usually with dumbbells, that are light enough to perform high repetitions in conjunction with a HITT training style circuit. A variation of the shoulder press is a Z-press that stabilizes the torso and provides no “bouncing” assistance when pressing, thus isolating the shoulders. I enjoy this workout as it targets the shoulders intensely, but also engages your trapezoids, back, and core.”
Featured Image: @machete_fitness on Instagram