Try This 20-Minute Push-Day Workout for a Stronger Upper Body

When your regular routine gets stale, separate things out into pull- and push-day workouts.
Image Credit: Christa Boaz/E+/GettyImages

Push-day workouts are a great way to stretch your limits and unlock newfound strength and definition in your upper body.


For those new to this type of workout, here's a quick explainer: Some exercisers prefer to split their workouts into different focuses, depending on the day of the week. One popular split is push-pull workouts.

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On a push day, you'll work your chest, shoulders and triceps — all the muscles you use to push something away from you. On pull days, you target your back and biceps — muscles primarily responsible for pulling motions.

"It's effective because you're able to successfully create more local fatigue in these muscle groups instead of systemic fatigue when doing full-body workouts," says personal trainer Ben Lauder-Dykes, an instructor for Fhitting Room. And that's ultimately better for building strength and/or muscle, he says.

This push-day workout — designed by Lauder-Dykes — will ignite your muscles and propel you closer to your fitness goals. From bulking up your chest to sculpting your shoulders and triceps, this workout is all about unleashing your upper-body potential.

Check out more of our 20-minute workouts here — we’ve got something for everyone.

20-Minute Push-Day Workout


Work (seconds)

Rest (seconds)


Wall Press Dead Bug




Push Press




Chest Press

EMOM 10 reps

Remaining time


Alternating Seated Z Press




1. Wall Press Dead Bug

Sets 4
Time 30 Sec
Body Part Abs and Shoulders
  1. Lie down arms-distance away from a wall or something you can press into with your hands that will not move.
  2. Lift your knees up to 90 degrees above your hips
  3. Extend your arms above your head and press into the wall.
  4. Keep your ribs down and together by engaging your abs. This will create more space for your shoulder blades to move and can improve your mobility to fully extend your arms above your head.
  5. Slowly extend one leg out.
  6. Hold this position for 30 seconds.
  7. Rest for 10 seconds.
  8. In the next set, you’ll extend the other leg.
  9. Alternate legs for each set so that you end up doing 2 sets on each leg.

Do: ‌30 seconds of work, followed by 10 seconds of rest. Repeat for 4 total sets.

"This exercise is great for improving shoulder mobility and range of motion and can be felt immediately, normally after just two sets," Lauder-Dykes says. "But physical improvements from this exercise will come more from consistency over time than intensity."

2. Push Press

Sets 5
Time 40 Sec
Body Part Shoulders
  1. Stand tall with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand.
  2. Lift the dumbbells up to your shoulders.
  3. Bend slightly at your hips and the knees.
  4. Use your body like a spring to generate power and press the weights above your head, finishing with your arms fully extended.
  5. Slowly lower the weights back down to your shoulders over 3 to 5 seconds before repeating the same action.

Do: ‌40 seconds of work, followed by 20 seconds of rest. Repeat for 5 total sets. Focus on making the lowering phase longer than the press phase (about 3 to 5 seconds to lower).

"Focusing on the eccentric [or lowering] portion of the exercise is a great way to overload your muscles and tendons in a safe way," Lauder-Dykes says. "If you don’t have two dumbbells, you can also do this with one dumbbell, performing 20 seconds on the right, then 20 seconds on the left."

3. Chest Press

Sets 6
Reps 10
Body Part Chest
  1. Lie on your back on a bench (or the floor) with a dumbbell in each hand, held to each side of your chest.
  2. If you're on a bench, your elbows should be down below your shoulders and out at a 45-degree angle.
  3. Press your arms up and over the center of your chest so that the dumbbells nearly touch.
  4. Lower the weights back down to the starting position.
  5. You’ll perform 10 reps every minute on the minute (EMOM), resting the remaining time before your next set.

Do: ‌10 reps as quickly as you can (with proper form) in a minute. Whatever time you have left in the minute, rest. Repeat for 6 total sets (6 total minutes). If you're doing one arm at a time (shown in the upper left corner of the video), do 12 total minutes.

"This exercise puts you in a really strong and stable position, so you can really target the chest as a primary mover and the shoulders and triceps as a secondary mover," Lauder-Dykes says.

4. Alternating Seated Z Press

Sets 4
Time 1 Min
Body Part Shoulders
  1. Sit on the floor with your legs extended out in front of you in a "V" shape. This will give you a stable base of support.
  2. With a dumbbell in each hand, lift the weights up to your shoulders, palms facing toward you.
  3. Press the weight in your right hand up over your head, rotating your hand so that you end with your palm facing out.
  4. Slowly lower the weight back down.
  5. Repeat on the opposite arm.
  6. Continue alternating for 60 seconds.

Do: ‌60 seconds of work, followed by 30 seconds of rest. Repeat for 4 total sets.

"Not only will this exercise take your shoulders and triceps through a greater range of motion [than a standard press], alternating the arms allows for more upward rotation, so you can improve your shoulder mobility," Lauder-Dykes says.

"You may have to go a little but lighter on this exercise in the beginning, as the seated poison makes it harder to cheat and also harder to get wrong," he says.