The Z press will test your upper body and core strength – here’s how to do it

Are you looking to get your money’s worth? Try the Z press to strengthen your shoulders, improve your core stability, and more.

Getty Images

Getty Images

Gone are the days of spending hours huffing and puffing in the weight room. With today’s fast-paced life, efficient yet effective workouts are a necessity, which means prioritizing exercises that hit multiple muscle groups and provide full-body benefits.

One way to make the most of your time at the gym? Do a few sets of the Z press, a multifunctional exercise that challenges your upper body, core, mobility, and flexibility. Ahead, a fitness pro explains all the benefits of adding the Z press to your strength training routine and how to do the strength exercise with proper form every time.

How to Do a Z Press

Created by Strongman Zydrunas Savickas, the Z press is essentially a shoulder press performed while seated on the floor with your legs extended in front of you, says Edith Partida, CPT, CES, PPSC, NASM-certified personal trainer and corrective exercise specialist. “It’s an upper body strengthening move, but because you’re sitting on the floor and there’s no support for your back, you have to use your core to stabilize yourself in this position,” she adds.

Having trouble visualizing the move? Watch Partida demonstrate how to do the standard Z press below and follow the instructions for a better understanding of what the exercise entails.

A. Sit on the floor with your legs straight, feet apart as far apart as possible, a dumbbell in each hand resting on your thighs and trunk engaged. Keeping arms bent at 90 degrees, raise elbows to chest height in front of body. Face palms towards each other. This is the starting position.

B Keeping the core engaged and the back flat, press the dumbbell into the right hand directly above the head so that the wrists stack directly over the shoulders and the biceps are next to the ear. Avoid leaning back while pressing the weights all the way to the ceiling.

VS Slowly bend the right elbow and bring the dumbbell back to the starting position. Repeat on the opposite side.

The advantages of the Key Z press

As Partida hinted, practicing the Z press can hurt your shoulders and core of the good. Here’s what you need to know about these key benefits and more.

Improves daily functioning

By building strength in your shoulders, the Z press can create everyday movement a lot easier, says Partida. Reminder: The root of the Z press is an overhead pressing motion, a movement pattern you probably do every day. You’ll reach your arms all the way to the ceiling to place a box of holiday decorations on a high closet shelf, for example. And you’ll do the same by gently tossing your giggling baby into the air. By practicing this functional exercise and continuing to increase your weight, you’ll be able to lift even heavier trash cans – and babies – with ease and safety.

Challenges core stability

The Z press is not only a shoulder exercise, and it’s equally beneficial for your core, as it tests and builds muscle group stability, Partida says. ICYDK, your core is a bundle of muscles throughout your trunk (including your rectus abdominis, obliques, transverse abdominis, and erector spinae) whose primary job is to protect your spine and keep you upright. To do this, your core muscles need to be strong and able to contract enough to create stability, because Shape Previously reported. Without enough core stability, you can face lower back pain and tightness in the hips. “Your trunk holds everything together and in place,” adds Partida. “Whether [your core] is not strong enough when you put your body into different types of movements, it [weakness] can potentially lead to injury and back pain.

This is why the Z press can be so valuable. In order to perform the exercise with good form (read: stay slump-free), you’ll need to keep your core musculature activated, which can be difficult when pressing and lowering the weights, Partida explains. This central bracing will also protect your spine throughout the movement and, as you increase the weight or reps, will improve your stability.

Tests hamstring and thoracic spine mobility

The Z press is a useful gauge of the flexibility and mobility you have in your hamstrings and thoracic spine (the part of the spine that extends from the base of the neck to the bottom of the ribs), respectively , says Partida. If you’re unfamiliar, flexibility refers to the ability of your connective tissues to lengthen temporarily, and if you lack hamstring flexibility, you’ll have trouble keeping your legs straight on the floor during the press Z, says Partida.

Mobility, on the other hand, is the ability to actively control and access your full range of motion in a joint. The thoracic spine in particular needs to be mobile so you can move well and maintain good posture. But if you’re sitting at a desk all day, chances are it’s stiff, which can affect the performance of your Z press. your head because [your thoracic spine] the area is quite closed,” says Partida.

Essentially, pressing Z can alert you to any limitations you might have. And luckily, there are modifications you can use to reap the benefits of exercise if you lack flexibility and mobility. Then, over time and with the help of stretches and mobility movements, you can slowly progress to the traditional Z-press, says Partida.


Z Press muscles worked

While the Z press engages all of the deltoid muscles (the muscles covering the top of your shoulder), the move primarily targets the anterior (i.e., front) deltoids, Partida explains. The exercise also strengthens your trapezius muscle (aka traps), which starts at the base of your neck and runs across your shoulders and down your middle back, she adds. As with the traditional shoulder press, the Z press works your triceps, which are called upon to slow the weight down as you bring it back to your shoulders, and your core, which keeps your core straight and stable.

Variants of the Z press

The basic Z press may not match your body or your goals – and that’s okay. To reduce or increase the level of exercise as needed, try these variation ideas.

Mod: Landmine Z Press

Dealing with tight hamstrings? Try the Z press with your legs bent and your feet flat on the floor. Or, sit on a small box or stack of weight plates (think: 2 to 12 inches tall) with your legs straight out in front of you, Partida suggests. Both of these adjustments will ease the tension in your hamstrings, and as your flexibility improves, slowly lower the box or plates until you’re sitting flat on the floor, she suggests. If your core isn’t strong enough yet to keep your core straight, try performing the Z press with your back leaning against a wall, Partida advises.

You can also perform a landmine Z press, which does not require as much balance, core stability, and thoracic spine mobility as the traditional Z press. This is because one end of the heavy barbell will rest on the floor and against the wall in front of your body, taking some of the load off your shoulders and core. And since you’ll be leaning forward slightly throughout the move, the modification may feel a bit easier on your lower back than the standard Z press.

Progression: Barbell Z Press

To make the Z-press even harder, replace your dumbbells with a barbell, which requires more mobility in the thoracic spine and core stability because both of your arms will need to be lifted simultaneously, says Partida.

Common Z Press Mistakes

As you push the weights up toward the ceiling and lower them toward your shoulders, avoid leaning too far back, which can cause lower back discomfort. Instead, focus on maintaining good posture with a flat back and keeping your body bent at about a 90-degree angle, Partida says. Most importantly, remember to keep your core engaged throughout each rep of the Z press, as this is key to protecting your spine. and building stability.

How to add the Z press to your routine

Before you put your shoulder press down on the floor and try the Z press, you’ll want to first discuss with your doctor if you currently have or have suffered a shoulder injury, as the motion puts extra pressure on the joint, says Partida. .

Once you’ve been given the go-ahead, try performing the Z press near the start of your workout, as the move involves multiple muscle groups and is quite taxing on the body, says Partida. In general, try performing two to three sets of eight to 10 reps to build strength, or 10 to 12 if you’re looking to improve your muscular endurance, she suggests. Above all, don’t be ashamed to modify the movement to work best for your body, experience level, and needs. Flexibility, mobility, and core strength will develop over time, and you’re sure to feel strong and powerful no matter which variation you choose.

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