MODULE 2.4: The Upper Body Push

What is the upper body push?

Upper body pushing patterns refer to a group of movements that obviously all involve an upper body pushing pattern. There are several ways these pushes can be categorised, however we generally like to group them according to direction of push relative to the body (horizontal vs vertical), and laterality (unilateral vs bilateral). 

What does the upper body push train?


Upper body pushing patterns will train a variety of muscles depending on what variation you're completing. Generally speaking, all upper body pushing variations will train the triceps and anterior or middle deltoid. Horizontal pushing patterns typically train the pectoralis major and anterior deltoid, whilst vertical pushing patterns typically train the anterior/middle deltoid with minimal pectoral involvement. Additionally, depending on how the rest of the body is organised there is frequently core/trunk stabilisation required to allow for the production of pushing forces through the core, with some throwing/pushing variations requiring core/trunk rotation too.


Training an upper body push pattern transfers to sport-specific movements such as throwing/passing a ball, fending off a tackle, or throwing a punch (in martial arts, not the footy field). Incorporating core/trunk rotation and other kinetic chain movements in addition to the upper body push will likely transfer better to these more rapid/powerful throwing and punching movements as it's rare for an upper limb pushing pattern to occur during sport without contributions from the rest of the kinetic chain.

What are the technical KPI's of the upper body pushing pattern?

Very movement-specific, however general recommendations are:

  • Elbow stacked over wrist/hand

    • Improves efficiency of movement, less unbalanced rotary forces

  • Shoulder-blades either retracted/depressed or protracted/elevated

    • Improves stimulus through scapular stabilisers and scapular movement capacity

  • Consider how the rest of the body is organised

How can we address technical errors?

​As with all movements, we use the following tools to address technical errors. However given the huge variations in different upper body push movement patterns it's impossible to give specific examples for each.

  • Cuing

  • Regression/progression of the movement

  • Use of constraints

What are some variations of the upper body push?

  • Pushups

  • Overhead press

  • Med ball throws

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