Z press is a common exercise used in high-intensity functional training, that focuses on your shoulders, traps, and core to build more strength for overhead movements and mobility. You may have never heard of it, but if you’re looking to add some variation to your shoulder day split or functional training the Z press is where it’s at.
What Is The Z Press
Z Press was invented by Lithuanian strongman Zydrunas Savickas (Big Z), hence the name Z Press. The Z press is similar to other overhead pressing movements, yet fairly more difficult than a normal standing shoulder press, and slightly more beneficial. The Z press is performed as an accessory movement, from the sitting position, therefore, you won’ have the same power and drive like you would in a standing overhead press. The Z Press is also an asymmetrical single-arm movement, conventionally performed with a kettlebell, placing more emphasis on your core and spinal stability.
Z Press Benefits
The Z Press has many appealing performance benefits, that differ from the standing overhead press.
1. Builds Strength
Standing overhead press focuses on your shoulders for initial power and push. Because the Z Press is performed from a sitting position, it rules out leg drive and back support and relies on trunk strength, core strength, and hip flexor mobility to press the weight overhead. Adding the Z Press as an accessory movement to your training, will help build more strength in your shoulders, traps, core, and trunk.
2. Helps Improve Muscular Imbalances
Asymmetrical movements can help identify and correct for muscular imbalances. Your body is a complex and interconnected system. One disruption to that system can result in muscular imbalances making you more prone to injury. Muscle and postural imbalances occur as you progress through life. Small imbalances are created from certain lifestyle factors found in our environment such as sleeping on one side, working at a desk in a certain position, and carrying your bag on a preferred shoulder. They can also occur from rehabbing old injuries, poor exercise form, and only using weight machines, with no exercise variability. Z Press can help weaken your core, shoulder and upper back, to help balance homeostasis, and correct for overcompensation of weaker muscles.
3. Core Stability
Because the Z press is performed with one arm in a sitting position, it inevitably builds more core stability. Z press puts more emphasis on the abdominal muscles as well as the obliques as you contract your core. Your core is responsible for stabilizing the weight overhead, and unlike an overhead press, there is no room for compensation and poor form, since it’s a strict press. This will engage your entire abdominal core, which will improve performance and overhead movements.
How To Do A Z Press
In this video Functional Bodybuilder Marcus Filly performs a traditional Z Press.
- The Z press starts with the weight in a front rack position, elbow pointing forward and feet together.
- Strictly press the weight vertically with a neutral wrist to a fully locked out position overhead.
- The shoulder should be actively shrugged into the ear with the wrist stacked directly above. Slowly lower the weight back to the front rack position and repeat.
- You can incorporate these into your warm-up routine on days that push presses are programmed.
Z Press: Takeaway
If your goal is functional performance and strength, the Z press can greatly benefit your training. As a strict press, it builds upper back, shoulder and core strength, mobility, and improves core stability. As an accessory movement, the Z Press will definitely help stability and strength in overhead presses, jerks, push presses and take your overhead Olympic movements to the next level.
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