Zombie Press

I recently started experimenting with a movement called the Zombie Press. What attracted me to it, after I thought about it a bit, was that it trains upper body pulling and pushing with absolutely no equipment. I am waiting to build a jungle gym in my backyard so until that gets done I am pull-up bar-less. This fit the bill as the perfect solution.

When performed with straight arms and straight body, it’s a pretty fantastic upper push/pull and core exercise. Sort of like a muscle up, which is a pull-up followed up by a dip.

What I also realized upon further inspection of the movement and experimenting with it myself, was that there were several areas of weakness that would prevent the movement.

Requirements for Zombie Press

The initial part of the movement is performed by lat activation and core stability over a very long lever (like an ab wheel roll-out). If you lack in either of these areas, the movement stops here.

As the feet pull toward the hands and the weight shifts to be primarily in the hands, your flexibility could be limiting you from getting the feet off the ground without jumping. This could be due to a lack of wrist or hip mobility.

Once here, it takes good coordination of the trunk and legs along with solid scapular stability and straight arm strength to finish the straight arm press to handstand.

How to work up to the Zombie Press

Let’s break it down:

1) The initial pull
Can’t pull with straight arms? Leave the forearms on the floor and pull yourself into a pushup position that way.

2) The shift
This requires that hamstring and wrist flexibility we talked about earlier– if you want an easier variant, you can bend the knees and bring them to your elbows. This will put you into a frog stand position.

3) The press
If you bent the knees in the shift phase, your arms will likely be bent. This is an easier variation of the press to handstand movement and will allow you to use your triceps and not just your back and shoulders to lift the body up.

I’m always searching for new movements that allow me to get more benefit in less time and this one has rightfully earned itself a spot in my movement rotation.

Better every day,


ps. If you want to learn more of these movements and how to work up to them get Ultimate Athleticism with free access to the forum where I am answering questions daily!

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4 thoughts on “Zombie Press

  • Max Shank Post author

    Hi David!
    That’s the toughest part. It is best achieved by working through the Ultimate Athleticism progressions for the L-sit to handstand. That particular movement is exactly like the L-pull through. It takes both upper body pushing strength as well as core coordination to lift the legs. Keep at it!

  • David

    When doing a straight-arm press, how do you initiate the liftoff? I get my hips over my hands, and get stuck. Every time.

  • Joey Morstad

    perfect timing with this post! just started playing around with these yesterday after your earlier facebook video. my abs are definitely feeling it today. looking forward to working up to the above progressions here soon. thanks Max!