Updated: Jul 8
The Push-Up hands down are one of the most popular exercises of all time when it comes to simplicity and effectiveness. As it doesn't require any equipment, just your own bodyweight yet targets a large array of muscle groups. But with that, the majority of people tend to neglect the crucial steps that allow us to build strength in the Push-Up and perform them safely and effectively.
Push-Up's performed with the right technique have huge benefits in yielding long-term shoulder health, durability and performance. But too often people get stuck in the two main positions of the Push-Up, the top and bottom position.
With the top position, the common issue here is proper positioning of the body. Setting a solid plank position is the foundation of the Push-Up for the best possible chance to perform it with the lowest chance of injury, whilst developing strength and power. So first we want to keep our Glute's and core engaged. now to position the scapular (shoulder blades) think about 'Pressing the ground way'. This allows them to retract and sit in a strong and more stable externally rotated position. and finally the biggest technique flaw, where do my arms/hands go?
Typically people tend to adopt the 90-degree arm position and the traps shrugging up towards the ears (as seen below - Top picture). what this does though, is places the shoulder joint in a vulnerable position often leading to shoulder discomfort, pain as well as over-engaging the upper trapezius muscle which is commonly already overdeveloped muscle in a lot of people.
In the bottom two photos, you can see that I am in an anti-shrugging position, which creates space between my upper traps and ears. Forcing greater activation of the big Latissimus dorsi (Major back muscle) relaxes the upper trap's, and loads the shoulders in a more optimal position.
The tall plank is the foundation of a good push up and is often overlooked. so, if your not to comfortable here yet. start spending so extra time developing this position. Some exercises to do this are;
- Tall plank
- Tall Plank with shoulder taps
Which are demonstrated in the video below.
The second trouble spot during the Push-Up is the bottom position. Having the muscular strength to hold and control your body weight throughout the lowering stage as well as pushing back up, out the bottom of the push up is challenging for a lot of people, especially with proper technique.
So here a couple of strong exercise progressions to help build Push-Up strength. Try implementing these in your routine and you will have them mastered in no time.