A push workout routine is probably nothing new for those of you who are accustomed to workout splits, but for anyone who hasn’t, rest assured it’s a - relatively - easy strength training method to get to grips with.
In a nutshell, push exercises are effectively any exercise that involves an action where a weight or load is moved away from your body, such as throwing and jumping. A push workout primarily targets the chest, shoulders and triceps, as well as the thighs and glutes.
There are so many different exercises you can perform as part of a push workout, making it challenging to put together a solid routine if you don’t have the knowledge. That’s why we asked AYBL athlete and fitness trainer Lauren Johnson to share her go-to push exercises.
Prepare to push it real good.
HEY LAUREN! WHAT DOES YOUR TYPICAL WEEKLY WORKOUT SCHEDULE LOOK LIKE?
As an instructor for HIIT and hot yoga classes, it can sometimes be difficult to keep a strict regime because I tend to demo full classes at times, which is a workout in itself. My main focus is to move my body in challenging ways five to six times per week! I’ve really been enjoying a full body split for weight training, however, I do love a good push day, and this content is generally what I would prescribe to a client on a body part split.
A typical workout split for me looks like this:
Like I said, I'm an instructor and this can be a taxing weekly split on its own, so I always listen to my body if I need to rest.
TAKE US THROUGH YOUR PUSH DAY WORKOUT, WHAT EXERCISES DO YOU RECOMMEND?
STEP 1: DUMBBELL FLAT BENCH PRESS
Lie on a flat bench holding a dumbbell in either hand with an overhand grip.
Start by holding the dumbbells slightly wider than shoulder-width apart above your shoulders with your palms facing forward. Then, slowly bend your elbows until they’re at a 90 degree angle and your upper arms are parallel to the ground.
As you push the weights up, move your arms in an arc to bring the dumbbells together until they meet over the centre of your chest. Do not lock your arms. Hold for a count of one before lowering the dumbbells by slowly bending your elbows back to 90 degrees. Continue lowering your arms until they are a little lower than parallel to the floor. They should be pointing slightly toward the floor and you should feel a stretch in your chest muscles and shoulders.
Do this for three lots of six to eight reps.
STEP 2: INCLINE BARBELL BENCH PRESS
Angle the bench to 30 to 45 degrees and adjust the seat height so your eyes are under the bar when you lie down.
Keeping your bum planted on the bench, raise your chest up toward the bar, pinch your shoulder blades together and pull your shoulders down toward your waist. Then, grip the bar with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Your forearms should be straight up-and-down vertical. Arch your back while keeping your shoulders and bum in contact with the bench, then, unrack the bar.
Tuck your elbows in, so they remain at a 50 to 75 degree angle relative to your torso. Keeping your elbows in place, lower the bar to the upper part of your chest just below your collarbone.
Keeping your shoulder blades down and pinched and your elbows tucked, push the bar straight up and off your chest. Lock your elbows at the top of the movement to avoid needlessly reducing the range of motion.
Perform eight to 12 reps per set for three to four sets.
STEP 3: TRICEP DIPS
Facing the machine, kneel onto the platform and grasp the handles firmly. Keep your elbows close to your body. They should be bent at a 90 degree angle.
Contract your triceps and extend your arms down as your exhale. At the bottom of the movement, focus on keeping your arms slightly bent to maintain tension on the triceps. Then, move your arms back to the starting position as you inhale.
Repeat until failure, three times.
STEP 4: SEATED DUMBBELL SHOULDER PRESS
Set up an adjustable angle bench to 90 degrees and sit comfortably. Hold one dumbbell in each hand and rest them on your thighs. Then, using a controlled motion, hoist the dumbbells up so you’re holding them just above your shoulders with your palms facing away from you. Take a deep breath and press the dumbbells toward the ceiling until your elbows are almost locked, contracting the delts. The dumbbells should naturally drift toward each other, but not clash.
Slowly lower the dumbbells back to the starting position until they’re just above your shoulders - the handles should almost line up with your ears.
As you do the overhead press, keep your shoulder blades ‘down and back’ and your feet flat on the floor. Also, keep your mid and upper back pressed into the backrest and avoid over-arching your lower back.
Perform this six to eight times, repeating for three sets.
STEP 5: SKULLCRUSHERS
On a flat bench, lie face up. Your entire body should be on the bench, except for your lower legs. Your knees should be bent, and your feet flat on the floor. As you extend your arms above your chest, keep elbows shoulder-width apart (not locked).
With one dumbbell in either hand, flex your elbows and lower the weight toward the top of your head. Your upper arms should remain relatively perpendicular to your body. This keeps the tension on the triceps versus shifting it to the shoulders.
Continue lowering the weight behind the head. The bottom of the dumbbell should be about in line with the top of the bench or a little higher if this feels uncomfortable. Then, reverse the movement until the weight is above the chest in the original starting position. Refrain from locking your elbows to maintain tension in your triceps.
Repeat six to eight times for three sets.
STEP 6: TRICEP PUSHDOWN
Facing the machine, grasp the horizontal cable bar or rope attachment with an overhand grip. If necessary, adjust the attachment to about chest level.
Start by bracing your abs. Tuck your elbows in at your sides and position your feet slightly apart. As you inhale, push down until your elbows are fully extended but not yet in the straight, locked position. Keep your elbows close to your body and bend your knees slightly on the pushdown. Resist bending forward and try to keep your back as straight as possible.
As you exhale, return to the starting point using a controlled movement, trying to not let the weights crash.
Complete this exercise eight to 12 times per set for three sets.
HOW OFTEN DO YOU RECOMMEND TRAINING UPPER BODY?
I’d recommend at least twice per week for optimal results.
DO YOU HAVE ANY OTHER TOP TIPS FOR MAKING PROGRESS?
I really recommend everybody add yoga to their regime. Not only does it help to improve range of motion and stabilisation, it teaches you to be mindful with your movement. The more mind muscle connection you have, the better your form and muscle contraction will be, therefore, the better your results will be.
READ MORE: Yoga 101 With @kwcyoga
WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT WORKING OUT AND HOW DOES IT MAKE YOU FEEL?
I’m a bit of an introvert, but I also have so much energy, I hardly know what to do with it, which can lead me to go a bit stir-crazy sometimes. What I enjoy most about working out is the relationship I’ve created with myself and my body and being able to pursue my passion as a coach and instructor doing something I love.
WHAT IS THE KEY TO STAYING CONSISTENT?
Fitness does so much for me, I could ramble on for days, but I think what keeps me going is the constant progression and endless learning opportunities that come with it. Being able to watch yourself transform through the work you put in is truly amazing. It really helped me to develop the mindset to become the person I am today, and I’m so thankful for that.
Movement is like a breath of fresh air for me.
WHAT WORDS OF ADVICE WOULD YOU LIKE TO GIVE TO OUR FEMALE COMMUNITY TO HELP THEM ACHIEVE THEIR GOALS?
The fitness environment can be totally uncomfortable and intimidating at times, especially for women. My best advice is to never compare your journey or your vessel to anybody but your own.
Pay attention and celebrate progress. Treat and love your body as your home, because it is. The more genuine care you give your body, the more you will get out of it. Do the hard things that are good for you and you will thank yourself later, I promise.
No workout is going to turn you into the GOAT in two weeks, but with the right moves, you can feel noticeably stronger - and we strongly believe that Lauren’s push workout features some of the best exercises to help you achieve your goals.
Remember to focus on quality over quantity.
Loved our push day workout? Push your limits further with our glute workout with Amie Fairweather.