The 7 Most Effective Barbell Push Exercises

Finding new barbell push exercises and adding them into your training plan will be made easy with this article. We will go through the benefits of using barbell push exercises and how they can be added into your training regime.

6 min read
Sean Klein
Written by
Sean Klein
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Last updated
In This Resource
  • Benefits of Barbell Push Exercises
  • Strength Adaptations
  • Hypertrophy (Muscle Gain)
  • Athletic Performance
  • Landmines for Beginners
  • The 7 Most Effective Barbell Push Exercises

Benefits of Barbell Push Exercises

Strength Adaptations

The strength adaptations created from using barbell push exercise like the bench press and the military / strict press cannot be understated. These two lifts are the staple of upper body strength for a reason. The barbell is by far the most effective tool for push movements through these ranges of motion. As its so easy to load and can be used with a rack, it makes it the go to piece of equipment for strength development. Loading kettlebells and dumbbells is much more challenging and often requires very specialist equipment if you are a strong individual.

Hypertrophy (Muscle Gain)

Using barbell push exercises can also be very beneficial for muscle gain, also known as hypertrophy. The lifts like the bench press have been used for a long time to add muscle mass because they are very effective at achieving this goal. Doing high volume training on the bench press can be fatiguing, but thats because it’s so effective.

Athletic Performance

All of these exercises have their used for athletic populations. Some like the bench press for strength development, others like the half kneeling landmine press for rehabilitation from a shoulder injury. Using barbell push exercises in your training plan can be a great way to improve your athletic performance, just make sure you’re picking the correct exercise for your sport and adaptation you’re seeking.

Landmines for Beginners

The landmine variations in the list are excellent for beginners who have limited range of motion or are just learning the basic movement patterns of strength training. Thats not to say that they cannot be used by more advanced individuals with heavy weights to great affect. It’s just an advantage to having an access to barbell if you’re a beginner or you are coaching beginners.

The 7 Most Effective Barbell Push Exercises

The barbell floor press is a great alternative to the bench press for strength development and a very valuable tool for athletes. It doesn’t move through the full range of motion and can be slightly difficult to set up with a rack, but for athletes looking to work location specific strength it can be a great addition to a training programme.

The bench press is the staple exercise in this list. It allows for both high level strength work and muscle gain making it one of the most beneficial upper body exercises. It might not be the best option for beginners just learning the horizontal pressing movement pattern as it can fix the shoulders into an uncomfortable position if you have shoulder issues or limited movement capacity.

The barbell floor seated press is a very challenging vertical press variation that requires a great deal of core engagement throughout. This reduces its effectiveness for both strength and hypertrophy, as the position and core activation make it very challenging compared to a standard strict press. That being said for athletes or just individuals seeking some variety it can be a very effective barbell push exercise.

The strict press or the military press is probably the second most well known exercises in this list after the bench press. It allows for excellent strength development in the vertical press range of motion. It is a challenging lift to lift heavy weights with but if trained consistently it is possible to see great gains in the barbell push exercise. It’s also very useful for athletes who are looking to build strong shoulders. Do not mistake it with a push press, which involves the lower body, this is a purely upper-body movement that only requires the legs, do not use the legs to throw the weight overhead.

The half kneeling landmine press is a great variation for both beginners and athletes or any individual looking for an effective unilateral vertical pressing variation. For beginners its so effective because it allows them to find a barbell path that can work around limited mobility. For athletes it develops the core musculature at the same time as the vertical press movement pattern, it also develops stability in the shoulder joint as it requires much more stabilisation than say the traditional strict or military press.

The landmine press is very similar to the half kneeling landmine press as it to requires core activation, stability of the shoulder joint and puts emphasis on the vertical press movement pattern. Making it too very effective for athlete, the general population and beginners who are looking to learn the basic movement patterns.

The tall kneeling double arm landmine press is a niche pressing variation that targets both the chest and the shoulders. It can be great as a bridge between bench press cycles or strict press cycles as it will ensure the same muscles are worked but take some load of the body. This will probably never be the staple of your training programme, but can be a nice addition from time to time.

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This resource was written by Sean Klein. Sean Richard Klein has thousands of hours of coaching experience and a BSc in Sports Science with Management from Loughborough University. He owns a gym in Bayonne France, CrossFit Essor, which runs group classes and a Personal training studio.

Sean Klein


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