A good push is a great exercise for developing strength in the chest, triceps and shoulders whilst also requiring some decent core and ab strenth to be performed correctly. Unfortunately I see them get basterdised in the gym on a fairly regular basis.
Done correctly the whole torso should remain RIGID, just like in a front plank (http://betterbodyblackheath.co.uk/how-to-plank-you-way-to-sweet-sweet-abs/), the whole weight of the body should move forward and down, with the hips staying only slightly below the shoulders throughout the movement. The chest should touch the floor before driving back up, without letting the position of the torso change (don’t let the hips sag during the up phase!).
Here is a set of body weight push ups too failure done at the end of an upper body sess at the Blackheath gym.
What not to do:
Partial range – so pointless really, if you can’t do them fully, just regress the movement to a version where you can do a full range movement (see end of article).
Back too arched/lacking ab strength/your other halves favourite type of push up – your not far from being able to do the push up really, but you need more tension in the glutes and abs so’s not to hump the floor into submission.
Hips too high – your not push your whole body weight, taking the tension away from the abs and arms and putting it all awkwardly on the shoulder joint.
Progression and Regression of the Push Up
There are a number of ways to progress the push up, but my favourite is too simply add some more weight to the movement!
To regress the movement I would go for the incline push up as opposed to the kneeling push up. The kneeling push up often gets done badly as well as lacking progression. With the inline push up you can use a full ROM, getting the chest to the bar. Try lowering the bar as you get stronger until you can build up doing them on the floor.
Try and emphasise the bar going toward just underneath the chest and avoid the bar going towards the neck or too low towards the stomach (shown at the end of the video).
Joe Birch BSc MSc Pn1
Personal Trainer Blackheath