Barbell Z Press (How To, Muscles Worked, Benefits)

The Barbell Z Press, also called a Floor Overhead Press, is one of my favorite shoulder pressing movements. It forces the lifter to actively engage the core to maintain their position, giving it a unique added benefit over other shoulder presses.

In this guide, I’m going to teach you how to do Z Presses including important coaching tips and a few alternative exercises.

How To Do Z Presses

Equipment Needed

  • Barbell
  • Rack (or partner to hand you the bar)

How To

  • Sit on the floor in front a rack, legs straight out in front.
  • Brace the core and unrack the bar (or have a partner hand it to you).
  • Make sure you’re posture is good and your core is tight before trying to press.
  • Press the bar to full extension overhead.
  • Lower the bar back down to under the chin and repeat until all reps are completed.

Coaching Points

The Z Press demands some hamstring flexibility and core stability to maintain the body position while pressing. Deficits in either of these areas will greatly hinder your ability to be able to do Z Presses.

Once the bar crosses the top of the head, ‘pull the head through’ so that you’re pressing the bar directly over the ears.

Strength Trivia: The Z Press got its name from legendary strongman Zydrunas Savickas who made the lift popular.

Benefits of Z Press

A few of the benefits of the Z Press include:

  1. Increased upper body strength: The Z Press can be a challenging exercise that can help to increase strength in the shoulders and triceps.
  2. Increased core stability: The Z Press requires a high level of core stability to maintain proper form, which can help to improve overall core strength and stability.

How Many Reps?

I generally program Z Presses as 3 to 4 sets of 5 to 10 reps each.

Z Press Alternatives

Need an alternative for Z Press? Maybe you don’t have a barbell or maybe you’re struggling to keep yourself upright. Whatever the reason, here are a few exercises you may be able to use as a replacement.

Overhead Press

If you’re really struggling with maintaining the seated position on the floor, then simply switch to a standing Overhead Press. Continue to work on your hamstring flexibility and/or your core strength and come back and try Z Presses again once you’ve improved in those areas.

Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press

Seated DB Shoulder Press

Don’t have a barbell, but you do have dumbbells? Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press is an excellent option as a Z Press alternative.

In fact, you can do dumbbell presses sitting on a bench, or you can do them sitting on the floor just like with a Z Press.

More Links and Info

Looking for a training program? Coach Horton has 20 years of experience working as a Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Coach and Sports Scientist. Our Shop has programs ranging from Sports Performance Programs to help you dominate your sport to programs designed to just get you ready for the beach.

If you’d like to see more upper body exercises, check out the Upper Body Lifts section of our Exercise Library. There you’ll find dozens of chest, back and shoulder exercises – all with step-by-step instructions.

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