Tutorial: Develop Your Push Up Skills
When we think about body weight training, the push up is usually the first exercise we that comes to mind. This simple yet often overlooked movement is not only a great strength exercise – it was also an important movement in our motor development.
From a very early age, the ability to push our body away from the ground was a pre-adaptation to crawling. In fitness and sports training, the push up is a foundational movement – which means that other body weight skills can be built upon it. Whether your aim is to become a push up master or simply develop your push up to support other movements, we’ll teach you how to perform it efficiently, and when you’re ready, progress to more advanced variations.
PUSH UP BODY POSITION
Before moving on, it’s worth mentioning that with the right approach, the push up will work the entire body, including the lower body – and this is dependent on proper body position.
- Shoulder width apart, and under the shoulders
- Fingers spread, with the index fingers pointing forward
- Close to your sides, which is achieved not only by rotating the wrist and arm, but also via activation of the rotator cuff and upper back muscles
- Directly over the wrists (arms vertical)
- Neutral position with chin tucked in
- Neutral position, with core uncles engaged
- Hips and legs in a straight line, with butt squeezed and legs pulled together tight
The above position will create a straight line from the top of your head down to your feet. The correct muscle activation patterns will also help develop optimal levels of body tension, protecting the joints and reducing energy leakage during the movement.
- Maintaining the above shape and tightness, slowly lower your body to the floor, keeping the elbows close to your sides and shoulders above the wrists
- As you push back up, focus on keeping the lower body tight, so the whole body moves as one unit
TIPS AND PROGRESSIONS
- Outside of your push up training, keep the wrists strong and mobile through specific conditioning exercise
- Include isometric exercises in your weekly training program, including the Plank, Reverse plank, Inch worm, and Downward Dog. This will develop the required levels of body tension to support your push up training
- As strength improves, try shifting the shoulders forwards slightly in front of your hands. This is a useful progression towards Hollow body push up, Frog stand, Press Handstand and Planche
- Once you have a good level of control in the push up, play around with hand position and speed. Progressions include the Close- and Wide-grip push up, Inverted press, the Handstand push up, and the Explosive/hand clap push up
The push up is a simple and highly effective foundational movement, serving as an essential building block for all inverted movements such as the Handstand. Progressions beyond the basic push up can not only add variety to your workouts, but also support other body weight movement skills. When progressing with the push up, remember that it’s not about scoring points, but instead to develop skill and efficiency. Make push ups an integral part of your training program, and watch your strength and control improve in a short space of time.
View other tutorials: