• Jon Reid

Squat to Press

The squat to press is a tremendous exercise for many reasons. It can help build muscle, endurance and strength as well as aiding in the fat burning process. Not only that, it also improves overhead stability, whole body coordination and lays a foundation for other athletic movements.


Many athletic endeavours, and movements in every day life, require you to coordinate and transmit force from your lower body to your upper body and on to whatever task you have in hand.

For example, if you are throwing a ball or lifting a person over your head you will have to generate force with your lower body, transmit it to your arms and finally to the ball/person.

Two Key Patterns

Combining two fundamental movement patterns (squat and overhead press) provides an introduction to the transmission of force throughout your body.

Try the dumbbell squat to press and you’ll quickly see that if you don’t get the timing right, the overhead press portion of the exercise becomes much more difficult. By correctly timing the initiation of the press, your upper body takes advantage of the force you’re generating with your lower body, and thus it becomes ‘easier’ to lift the weight overhead.


The above might sound easy but performing this type of movement in a smooth and coordinated fashion is more difficult than you think, especially as the weight increases. It requires a sense of awareness, an ability to ‘feel’ the movement and an understanding of what is being done. This is why it’s as good an exercise for beginners as it is for the more advanced.

Exposes You

The dumbbell squat to press will also expose any movement restrictions or stability issues you may have. It will provide you with information about your shoulder stability, coordination, strength imbalances and ability to maintain an upright posture.

Often one side will feel a little more secure than the other. This can illuminate areas that need work and help structure future training.

How to use it in a Program


  • Start light.

  • Get familiar with the technique

  • Progressively increase the weight.


  • Use it as a warm up movement.

  • Go heavy and use it as a stand alone exercise.

  • Go lighter and use it as a ‘finisher’ to your session.


Whether you are a recreational exerciser aiming to improve your fitness or an advanced athlete, the squat to press is a great way to take down multiple birds with just one rock*. It’s a great exercise for beginners that not only helps with the obvious (muscle, strength, burn fat) but also improves ‘body awareness’; timing and stability.

*Figure of speech. I do not encourage the throwing of rocks at birds, or any animal.



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