A large majority of upper-body movements in everyday life and sports require strong, stable shoulders. The push-up is a perfect exercise to use as a tool to find your restrictive areas. For instance, are you able to keep your hands straight and elbow tight to the body throughout the movement? No? One answer for that could be due to a lack of range of motion in your shoulders, elbows or wrists. Sometimes these restrictions can go unnoticed, and the push-up is a great way to bring it back to light and reassess where your limitations are in regards to your upper-body mobility. Also, having mastered the proper push-up, you are more likely to stay in your stable position when you are training with more complex movements such as the bench press, overhead presses, plyometrics, olympic lifts. the push-up shares a lot of similar set up as the squat and deadlift do except instead of the legs creating the external rotation and tension, it is your shoulders, elbow and wrists that do it for the upper-body but in the same way.
Started from a kneeling position place your hands at shoulder width on the ground with your fingers splayed out and facing straight ahead. Then kick each foot back and have them positioned closely together (think isosceles triangle). Next we will need to create our stable base by externally rotating our hands into the ground (left hand to the left, right hand to the right). You may find it easier to lean back to take some of the weight off your shoulders as you create the tension. Just remember, that once you have created your tension and strong stable starting point, that your hands and elbows are stacked underneath your shoulders. Ideally, as you lower, your weight should be distributed over the center of your hands while keeping the forearms vertical. Sounds familiar right? The pecs and shoulders are doing the same job as the glutes and hamstring do while doing a squat. Stabilization. Lower yourself into the bottom position, with your core braced and your glutes activated to avoid overextension through your back. As you press up, nothing should change other than a reversal of the movement. If you tend to overextend to get yourself into the top position or if your push up looks more like a sun salutation then try doing a hands-elevated version where you place your hands on something that will bring the body more upright. Think- stairs, railing, or a wall).
*Once you have mastered the push-up at shoulder-width play around with different widths and angles of elevation (wide will demand more pec, narrow will demand more triceps)(Incline will demand more upper pec, decline will demand more lower pec). These changes are a fun way to keep push ups challenging and keep overall improvement trending upwards!
- Hands Elevated Push-Up
- Dumbbell Bench Press
- Barbell Bench Press
- Plyometric Push Ups