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Friday, September 6, 2013

Perfect Push-Up

The push- up is one of my all time favorite exercise moves.  It's been around for years, you don't need any equipment, it utilizes your entire body (when done correctly) and has a ton of different variations making it suitable for all exercise levels.  What's not to love?

Even though the push- up gets labeled sometimes as "too simple" I still find people performing it with questionable form at times.  Performing any move incorrectly can always lead to injury so lets take a minute to review good form....

1.  Place hands approximately shoulder-width apart with finger tips pointing straight ahead.  Push legs back with feet together and squeeze your butt.  Move slightly forward until your shoulders are over your hands with the inside (pits) of your elbows are also forward facing with your back flat.

2.  While keeping your elbows tucked in close to your body, begin lowering into the bottom position.  Be sure to keep your abs and butt tight. Your head should remain in line with your shoulders, eyes looking just over your fingertips.

3.  Exhale as you extend your arm back to the top position.  There should be no change in your back position through out the entire movement. Your forearms should remind as vertical as possible.

Did you try it?  It's hard isn't it?  Keeping your butt squeezed, elbows in, back flat...  it maybe a "simple" exercise but executing a push- up with proper form is tough!

Now, what if you can't do a push-up with full range of motion using the correct technique?  Scale it!

Two great ways to scale the push up:

1.  Place your hands on a high surface like a bench or a wall.  This allows you to still get into the position as before while making the load a little lighter.

2.  Lower yourself slowly down in the correct position and then from the bottom position come up on your knees.  Check out this video from MobilityWod for tips (if you need motivation to watch it cute Crossfitter, Rich Froning is in the vid) Dr. Starrett notes that doing push-ups beginning to end in the knee position doesn't really allow you to utilize/engage your glutes.  So if you're having a hard time going from knee to toe position in the push-up try this!

Some common mistakes to avoid are...

1.  Letting your elbows flair out.  How do you know if this is you?  Try to picture yourself from a bird's eye view.  Do you look like a "t"?  If you do, bring your elbows back in close to your body.  Letting your elbows flair puts a lot of unnecessary tension on your shoulder which can lead to injuries.

2.  Letting your hips sag.  Hold yourself accountable by checking your form in the mirror or asking a friend to keep an eye on you.  Your head, shoulders and hips should all be in a straight line.  If you find your hips are sagging, focus on squeezing your glutes and butt

So what do you think?  Do you love or hate push- ups,  you can be honest.  I won't judge.  I will challenge you do check your form over the weekend though.  Report back ok?

Check back next week for some of my favorite push-up variations!

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