Push Ups are under rated.
I could leave this post there and you’d have as much as you need to know.
But lets expand.
You know how the plank gets touted as a great core exercise?
Well imagine if you added some movement to the plank?
There’s a stack of ways to do this, I’ll probably cover them in future blog posts, maybe even a pdf download…
But the most basic would be simply to lower towards the floor and back up while maintaining position.
This is often called a “Push Up”, some time, “Press Up”
But it’s not just a core training drill, although that’s most people’s limiting factor when starting on the exercise.
It’s also great for the shoulder joint.
When done with good form.
And by that I mean adhering to the following technique points:
- Start in a good plank position, pelvis tucked under (posterior pelvic tilt), chin tucked in
- The hands should be directly below the shoulders
- This means the arms are vertical
- Rotate the pit of the elbow forwards, or the point backwards.
- As you lower towards the floor, the elbows stay close to the sides, they can flare out as far as 45 degrees, but no more.
- The hip stays tucked under.
- Lower under control, move deliberately
- Keep the chin tucked, do NOT allow the shoulders to raise up towards the ears.
- Press out powerfully, but don’t lose form.
- Stop the set when form deteriorates.
There’s more to push ups than you’d think!
But done right we are working the entire torso. You should feel the Lats work, the lower traps, the abs, glutes, even the thighs. And of course you’re working into the chest and triceps.
Done wrong we stress the low back, we grind up the shoulder complex and over use the upper traps & neck. We achieve nothing good.
Actually those pics were taken today after I discovered my injured shoulder could just about take a push up, but I couldn’t get into a bad enough position to really show it because of the pain it caused.
Let that be a lesson.
If I can’t demo bad form without it hurting my injured shoulder, yet the good form pictures were comfortable, what makes you think poor form is good for your “healthy” shoulders?
One last consideration is depth.
Obviously we want to go as deep as possible.
Correction, we want to go as deep as possible while maintaining good form.
This means keeping the shoulders set. If our shoulder starts to roll forwards, we’ve probably gone too deep. Watch someone do a push up or video yourself from the front or side.
If you lower into a push up and as you approach the bottom you see your shoulder come up and forwards, you’re losing form.
You’ve lost the serratus tension, you’ve probably lost your lower traps and you default to your upper traps.
Not a healthy state to be in.
I deal with this a LOT when I get the Thai Boxers coming to me.
Help them keep the shoulder position, even if that means sacrificing depth for a short while and their shoulders magically stop hurting.
Have a look at these two images I found on google images, I’ve no idea who they are and am not doubting their work ethic, but look at how the shoulder has rolled forward in the bottom position:
Here’s a video:
Get this nailed and you’ll notice the immediate benefits.
I’d suggest getting a solid set of 20 reps done before looking to other variations, such as using the rings, going wider, narrower, explosive etc etc.
You’ll find loads of variations like these and more in the No Equipment, No Excuses eBook (hint, hint…!)