Devil Press Exercise – You’ve Been Warned, The Name Says It All

Devil Press Exercise

If you thought burpees were tough… wait til you hear what the Devil Press has in store for you…

This gruelling exercise isn’t for the faint hearted, but for those brave enough to give it a go, there are some serious health benefits to be gained, including; explosive power, strength, endurance, coordination and balance.

The Devil Press combines multiple compound movements to deliver an effective fully body workout. With a burpee, sumo deadlift and snatch all required to shift a dumbbell from the floor to over your head, no other movement will transfer weight such a distance.

Whether you want to give this exercise a go, or simply scare yourself with the very thought of it, this guide delves into everything you need to know about the Devil Press, including how to perform it safely, the muscles worked and the benefits.

How to do a Devil Press

  • Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, with a pair of dumbbells in front of you.
  • Lower yourself down into a push-up position (and kick your feet back), holding the dumbbells instead of placing your hands on the floor.
  • Lower your chest to the floor before launching yourself out of this position as you would a burpee, maintaining your hold on the dumbbells.
  • As you reach an upright position, perform a dumbbell snatch (which involves swinging the dumbbells to an overhead position).
  • Hold the dumbbells overhead for a moment, before lowering the dumbbells to your side.
  • Lower your body into a push-up position and repeat for repetitions.

Coach’s Tip – There’s a lot going on in this movement, so firstly, practice with a very light pair of dumbbells and even when you’re feeling confident, keep things light, as the focus is more on muscular endurance, than absolute strength. The dumbbell snatch (bringing the dumbbells overhead) should be more of swinging motion, as opposed to a static shoulder press (which always requires lighter weight).

The movement should be one fluid motion, so try and avoid any long pauses.

If you find you can only do a few repetitions before your muscles are feeling the burn, you’ve likely selected dumbbells that are too heavy.

Technique is king when it comes to more complex movements like the Devil Press. Finding the right level of intensity is crutial as going to quick can lead to incorrect form and increased risk of injury.

Devil Press Workout

There are lots of workouts and CrossFit WODs that can incorporate the Devil Press, including something like:

30 Devil Presses
60 Dumbbell Thrusters
90 Burpees

Similarly, you could try something like:

100 Devil Presses for Time

Devil Press Exercise Muscles Worked

The Devil Press is a full body workout, engaging most of your muscles. It primarily works the back and shoulders, but your chest, glutes, quads and core will all be required to complete the movement.

Devil Press Benefits

Full Body Movement

The devil press is a true full body movement, engaging both your upper and lower body. If you’re looking for a single exercise to deliver an effective full body workout, look no further than the Devil Press.

Not only does it engage both upper and lower body muscles, but it also helps develop a wide variety of fitness attributes, including strength, balance, coordination and endurance.

Explosive Power

The Devil Press is ultimately a power movement. You have no option but to really power yourself up out of the push-up position and onto your feet and snatch the dumbbells overhead.

Developing this sort of explosive power is incredibly beneficial for not only sports, but for everyday life as well. When you’ve mastered the Devil Press, an activity like putting a heavy box on a shelf suddenly doesn’t seem so intimidating.

Muscular Endurance

The Devil Press is made up of lots of “mini” movements… you’ve got the push-up, the burpee, and the snatch.

The addition of the dumbbells really takes all these movements to the next level.

Your muscles will need to work hard to shift the weight, but they’ll also need to develop endurance to keep moving through the repetitions.

It’s an area of weight lifting often ignored, but muscular endurance is another incredibly useful attribute to develop for general health and wellbeing.

Cardiovascular Health

Opting for lighter dumbbells and following a high intensity, high repetition Devil Press workout will undoubtedly leave you feeling exhausted. It can match any sort of cardiovascular exercise in terms of burning calories and all-round conditioning.

If running isn’t really your thing, doing a Devil Press workout could be a great option for you to consider.

Coordination and Balance

Exercise isn’t just about strength gains or weight loss… it can improve all sorts of practical skills and physical attributes that significantly impact your overall quality of movement and wellbeing. Two of these (that often get ignored in workouts) are coordination and balance.

The dumbbell snatch part of the Devil Press, in particular, will really require your mucles to coordinate the swinging motion.

Holding the dumbbells overhead will also change your center of gravity, which will naturally require your core to stabilize and balance your body.

Perfect for HIIT Workouts

If you enjoy your HIIT (high intensity interval training) workouts, the Devil Press is a perfect exercise to use. You can follow all sorts of workout programming, from doing “as many reps as possible” in a certain time, to more traditional repetitions and sets programming.

Using the Devil Press in this way will enhance the muscular endurance and cardiovascular benefits of the exercise.

Pairing with other Strength Movements

As we’ve mentioned, the real beauty of the Devil Press is its focus on muscular endurance.

If you want to use the Devil Press as the underlying movement of a workout but bolster it with additional strength exercises, it pairs very well to pretty much any dumbbell strength exercise.

A simple way to create a variation that would make even the Devil wince at the very thought, would be to do a dumbbell overhead squat at the end of the movement.

Alternatively, you could superset the Devil Press with any type of dumbbell exercise.

Choosing the Right Dumbbells

For an exercise like the Devil Press, the actual dumbbells you select will have a big impact on the movement. A hex dumbbell is usually the preferred choice, as it means there is a flat edge for you to do a push-up on.

Using a rounded dumbbell is possible, but there’s a danger of the dumbbell slipping during the push-up, which could lead to injury.

If you only have access to a rounded dumbbell, you could try using something like a yoga mat for cushioning during the movement to avoid the dumbbells slipping.

Using Kettlebells or Barbell for Devil Press?

The Devil Press is best suited to dumbbells, however you could use kettlebells or a plated barbell.

With kettlebells, make sure it has a flat bottom that feels sturdy so you can do a push-up on it. The problem you may face with kettlebells is that their size changes quite considerably based on their weight. As you need to pick light kettlebells, they’re often small, making them less than suitable for doing push-ups on them.

Nevertheless, they come into their own for the swinging motion of the movement.

Similarly, if you want to use a barbell make sure you don’t overload it with weight, otherwise you’re changing the focus away from muscular endurance and more towards absolute strength. The movement also wants to be one fluid motion, which naturally feels harder when using a barbell compared to dumbbells.

Bottom Line

The Devil Press is quite an advanced exercise, requiring good technique and overall fitness… but the benefits can’t be ignored.

It provides the perfect exercise to develop muscular endurance, power and total body conditioning.

The question is, are you brave enough to take it on?

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