The Push Up – Exercise Tutorial
At last, the push up tutorial!
I thought it was important to cover How to Tighten the Core first, because doing a push up involves core strength and stability in order to prevent you sinking your hips too low or sticking your butt in the air – this applies even when you are doing the push up from your knees!
The Push Up is an excellent compound and functional exercise that will build great upper body and core strength. The push up is often mistaken for a shoulder or arm exercise, however, when performed correctly, it should work the chest, triceps, shoulders, lats, glutes, abs and even the quads together in one movement.
In the video I have mentioned the importance of the Lat muscles in this exercise, because with all pushing or pressing exercises, were a load is placed on the shoulders, it is important to ensure optimal shoulder stability. The Lat muscles allow you to pull the shoulders back and down, flattening the shoulder blades, guarding them from injury. Doing the push up when the shoulder rises up and out is potentially very dangerous for long term shoulder functionality. I take great issue when I see other trainers perform and teach, what I call the “right angle” push up. Not only is this deltoid dominant, but risks the stability and strength of the shoulder joint. In addition to the Lats, the glutes are paramount to your push ups’ success, as they help maintain the full plank position while preventing lumbar fatigue.
This Tutorial covers proper form, not how to build up strength, although how I did it was pretty obvious – I kept doing push ups until I could do 1, 2, 3 … and so on (full push ups)!
- Begin by placing your hands directly under your shoulders, then move them out only slightly until the thumbs and first fingers are now under the shoulders – fingers should be pointing out to the front, hands flat on the floor.
- Now, step or kneel back into a plank, with the core engaged, not forgetting about the glutes.
- Keeping the shoulders pulled back and down using your lats, keeping the head in line with the spine, bend at the elbow joint allowing the elbow to travel back towards the body (at the most 45 degrees out from the body), not outward like right angle wings.
- Lower the straight tense body down until the chest touches the floor and the first fingers and thumbs should still be directly below the shoulders.
- Ensuring the core is still tight, squeeze the chest, triceps, deltoids and lats to return the body to the starting position.
- Whether from your feet or knees, the hips, shoulders and head MUST stay in one straight line – no bums in the air or dips in the lower back. – no forward and backward “rocking” push ups from your knees, this is an up and down movement!
- If your back aches, squeeze the glutes more and remember the toilet muscles LOL
- The only parts of the body that should move are the elbows, the rest of the body should remain tight and solid.
- Don’t allow your elbows to flare outwards, if this happens, concentrate on pulling the shoulder blades back and down, this will guide your elbows more.
- Full range for movement is chest to floor, however this depth is reached only through practice and building strength. Before progressing from the knees to the feet, ensure you can obtain full range of movement from the knees. Then begin with partial movement push ups from your feet.
- Do NOT use the rest of the body to create momentum for the exercise – ONLY the elbows move!
- The further your hands are away from the body the less stable the shoulders will be and the more emphasis is placed on the deltoids.
- The closer you hands are to the body, the more emphasis is placed on the upper chest and triceps.
- Consider push up handles for wrist comfort – depending on the volume you are doing of course.
All in all this is an excellent exercise, when performed correctly. Remember, it’s not just about trying to do the Push Up from your feet, it’s about FULL range of movement, which = full benefit and muscular balance.
Leave me feedback +/- questions below. Push Up variations will follow, covering the basics first.