3 Tips for Better Push-ups
The push up is one of the greatest upper body strength movements that one can master. It is often overlooked or left out in favor of dumbbell or barbell movements (ie. bench press), but I can’t tell you how many times I find that guys want to use the bench press, or db bench press as their primary upper body strength and mass builder when they haven’t come close to maximizing the potential that they could gain from the simple bodyweight exercise that we all started, or should have started, with.
1.- Start your push-up from the floor
I always want push-ups, or planks for that matter, to start from the floor. The number one thing that I hate about most push-ups is the lack of ability to maintain a neutral trunk position. Which, if it is being done correctly, can be one of the biggest benefits of getting a large amount of training volume from the push-up. If you are able to maintain that neutral hip position, then you will have a better lumbar spine position, then you will have a better T-spine position, which culminates in a better shoulder position.
Lay flat on the floor, exhale really hard and feel like you are posteriorly tilting your hips, maintain some stiffness in your abs, then take a nice big breath in. You should be able to feel that lower back expand out when you take your breath in. Then press yourself off of the floor.
- Don’t reach for the ground with your head
Some people say that their isn’t a kinetic chain, they say that it is a kinetic pond and that everything ripples out from the hips. #1 above here deals with that line of thinking. Many other people cue the head as the most important, citing the fact that a poor head position inhibits your ability to breath correctly and pulls your shoulders out of position. Either way, it makes my brain vomit when I see someone straining their nose toward the floor when the do a push-up.
Push your tongue to the roof of your mouth, pull your chin in so that you feel like you are making the back of your neck long. You should see nothing but floor while you are doing your push-ups.
- Hand position
Dr. Quinn and I have harped on feet and foot position many times in the past, however, one thing that we don’t talk about too much is the hand position when doing a pushup. Too often I see people who roll to the lateral edge of their hands as they descend toward the floor. This is a mistake. When doing a push-up, the shoulders and chest are the primary muscles/joints involved DO NOT underestimate the value of the mechanoreceptors in your hands and the proprioceptive input that they can give. IT WILL help you maintain a better position in your push-up.
Spread your fingers and give yourself a wide base of support, make sure that you are able to maintain contact with your whole palm and fingers throughout the whole motion. If you can’t, then that is a good clue that you have something wonky going on that needs to be addressed.
I could go on and on about push-ups. I love many variations, especially the T- pushup for those of you who are a little more advanced. Check out these videos and give them a share for your friends.