Build Massive Shoulders With Negative Push Press

Build Massive Shoulders With This Negative Eccentric Accentuated Push Press

Dr. Joel Seedman, Ph.D.


If you’re looking to build your shoulder size and strength to the next level you’ll want to implement these ASAP. The eccentric accentuated push press exploits all of the key mechanisms of hypertrophy (muscle damage, mechanical tension, and metabolic stress) making it one of the most effective functional mass builders for the entire shoulder region including the deltoids, traps, and upper back.

Simply perform a standard push press by using both your lower body and upper body simultaneously to drive the weight overhead.  Pause in the top position for several seconds, then perform a controlled and accentuated negative by slowly lowering the barbell for a 4-5 second eccentric tempo.  Pause momentarily in the bottom position before repeating this protocol for 3-6 repetitions.

Because the load should be 15-25% be greater than what you would typically handle under strict press conditions, performing these with a controlled negative will further enhance the growth-inducing benefits of this exercise.  Think of these as heavy negatives for the shoulders but instead of having a spotter help you lift the weight on the concentric phase, your legs will assist you instead. 

In addition the total load should represent a supramaximal weight for what you would typically handle on a strict overhead press.  Besides the direct hypertrophy stimulus these create, teaching your body to handle inordinately heavy loads with strict motor control and rigid body mechanics does wonders for enhancing strength and neuromuscular efficiency.  As a result your numbers on just about every upper body exercise should dramatically improve which will have a direct impact on building enormous shoulders and a humongous upper torso.

It should also be noted that this negative accentuated push press is one of the few exercises that builds functional mass and strength while simultaneously improving explosive power throughout the entire body.  That’s because the concentric phase of the movement addresses speed and power output by focusing on driving the weight overhead as powerfully as possible while the eccentric phase addresses hypertrophy and strength through accentuated eccentric work.   Few if any exercises can claim to have such a well rounded plethora of benefits when it comes to performance and fitness.

Due to the extended time under tension per repetition (each rep should last a minimum of 8 seconds), a full set should last approximately 30 seconds or more.   Forcing your body to handle heavy loads in an overhead position for such an extended period of time does wonders for triggering massive gains in the entire yoke and shoulder region.  If you really want to exaggerate the hypertrophy mechanism try performing a modified drop set on your final set by dropping the weight in half and performing additional strict overhead reps to failure.  The momentary discomfort will be almost unbearable but if you can bear it the resulting shoulder growth will be well worth the pain.

Because of the heightened intensity involved in these I recommend performing them once every 10-14 days using 3-4 total working sets.  If you’re performing a full body routine or a complete upper body workout then several sets of this intense push press variation will be all you need for your shoulders. 

If your routine involves a shoulder dominant workout, once you’ve completed the negative push press sets move onto several sets of strict overhead dumbbell presses followed by various isolation shoulder exercises such as lateral raises, rear delt raises, and front raises. 

Finally, make sure you tuck your elbows on the negative phase of the exercise to take stress off the shoulder joint.  Allowing the elbows to excessively flare can place extreme tension on the glenohumeral joint and the neck.