Push-Up fault demos.
The Push-Up is a classic bodyweight exercise, and likely one of the first “non-play” physical activities many of us encountered in grade school PE. The benefits of the push up are many. Obviously, upper body pushing strength is one. There’s also…
- Shoulder girdle strength – a well-performed push-up requires a stable scapula for the “mover” muscles of the shoulder to work off of. The rotator cuff and scapular muscles create force couples to control the scapula and create a stable base, and rotate the scapula to allow the correct amount of room for the humeral head to move. You can think of your shoulder girdle as another “core” in this way. A bench press or any machine press has a very different vibe. The bench or seat is providing an artificial platform for your pressing muscles to work from instead of in tandem with scapular muscles. This makes the push-up is a fantastic exercise for rehabbing a bum shoulder (depending on the issue) because it re-trains the muscles of the shoulder girdle to work together with the bigger “mover” muscles of the shoulder (pecs, lats, delts, biceps, and triceps). My high school PE teacher wouldn’t let anybody touch a weight unless they could perform 10 strict push-ups with good form. I’ve often used this principle with clients.
- Mid-line stability – A well-performed push up has the skeleton in good neutral alignment. The joints at the shoulder, hip, knee, and ankle all line up like ducks, with the spine staying rigid from head to hip. Yes, your abs ARE at work in the push up. Think of it as a moving plank.
There are lots of variations; from the toes, from the knees, hands elevated, feet elevated, handstand, band-resisted, with chains, with plates or small humans on your back, clapping, traveling…the list can go on. There are however a few universals that apply to any well performed push up. Here’s what to keep in mind.
+ Keep your chest and collar bone buoyant in the movement. Don’t cave in and let them drop between your shoulders. Let your elbows start the movement, and think of keeping your shoulder blades glued to the ribs.
+ Keep an arm angle at the shoulder that has your elbows pointing somewhat back and out, not straight out to the sides or straight back toward your feet.
+ Keep the back of your head up and chin slightly tucked. Don’t drop your chin out and make like a goose’s neck.
+ Keep your abdominal muscles and glutes on. The chest should be the first and only thing to touch the floor. No sagging hips or belly.
+ Keep your knees back. One of your quadriceps works at the hip also (see above tip). Activating the quads in tandem with your glutes will help keep your mid-line stable. Think of pulling the kneecap into the thigh.
If you’re strong enough for push-ups from the toes but your belly gets in the way (thanks, GOMAD) consider elevating the whole thing. Feet on a small box and hands on parallettes or some plates. Come on, tough guy.