THE PISTOL SQUAT PROGRESSION LADDER

EXERCISE BREAKDOWN: SPEED PUSH UP

 

HOW TO DO IT
FIND THE RIGHT HEIGHT/SET-UP – Either do these on the floor, with feet elevated, or on a box or bar with your arms elevated to make it easier. This is important. To do this right, you need to be able to perform 5 reps perfectly–without breaking form, with a powerful push–or you’re not doing them right. As you’ll read below, the benefit comes from the speed, not grinding through reps, so you MUST find the right level. Don’t be too ambitious.

HOLD GOOD POSTURE – Pelvis in a slight posterior tilt, stay nice and tall and don’t let that change as you go through your reps.

HANDS LEVEL WITH LOWER CHEST; NOT SHOULDERS – if you struggle with push-ups, pay particular attention to this. It’s not good pushing mechanics to have your hands level with your shoulders–even if it feels better in the short-term.

LOWER SLOWLY, EXPANDING YOUR CHEST AS YOU GO – the more you feel your chest open and the muscle fibres stretch, the stronger you’re going to be.

PAUSE – at the bottom, keep your body in a tight straight line, abs braced gently, feel the chest stretched (loaded as we say)

POWERFULLY DRIVE BACK UP – as you exhale. Nothing moves but your chest and arms. Focus on on pushing the floor or bar away, push as quickly as you can to the top position and then pause briefly there before going again.

DO 5-8 REPS AND THEN STOP – this drill is about getting reps in with perfect form, getting good at doing it well, not about trying to fatigue or grind out maximum strength sets.

HOW PEOPLE TEND TO MESS IT UP (INFERIOR PEOPLE TO YOU, OF COURSE)
THEY ARCH THEIR BACK – a symptom of the set up being too difficult or simply of a lack of motor control. The fix: get good at holding a hollow position (in various positions), then practice this until you can keep your body still while only your chest and arms move–only increase speed or strength requirement when you have it down.

THEY PIKE THEIR HIPS – as above. If you can’t control it, you’re going to sag at the back, or shoot your bum in the air. Practice with focus and you’ll get it.

THEY MAKE IT TOO DIFFICULT – which means that either their form breaks, or they’ll have no speed. Naughty. The fix: elevate the hands until it’s easy enough for them to do it well.

THEY GET ‘ALL SHOULDERY’ – with this, we want the chest to open, and the shoulders to be back at the bottom. Unfortunately, folks who struggle with these tend to get ‘all shouldery’– the shoulders round forward and get in the way, it looks defensive and prevents the chest from opening. The fix: make the easier until you have the skill, as ever, make sure you understand it properly before you use it to train hard.

THEY DON’T GO LOW ENOUGH – as with any push-up, butcher the range of motion and you’re not going to get the same effect. The fix: do whatever it takes to get down! Do less reps, elevate your hands, erm, try a bit harder maybe.

THEY DON’T PAUSE AT THE TOP – which isn’t essential maybe, but it tends to spoil things when people try to do too many reps, too quickly–it gets all miserable and messy. Rather, what I like to see in most people, is a one-second pause at the top just to give you time to tidy things up and make it easier to control the ferocious power you’re no doubt displaying on the way up. So, unless you’re perfect on these, I like to see this on every rep: neat start position; smooth controlled decent into a stretched (loaded) chest; brief pause at the bottom; explosive power back up; one-second to compose at the top.

WICKED CUES
EXHALE & PUSH! — for maximum power.

PAUSE. EXPLODE — a reminder of what matters…. Pause, then push as fast as you can on the way back up (that’s what we mean by explode if you was wondering).

LOWER ABS BRACE. UPPER BODY PUSHES – static torso, power from AND ONLY FROM the upper body.

FEEL THE CHEST OPEN AND CLOSE — the better you get at this, the better you’ll get at actually cajoling force from the target areas.

FEEL THE SHOULDER BLADES TOUCH AT THE BOTTOM – if that’s happening, the chest is opening up a treat.

PROGRESSIONS
PRACTICE ‘AIR PUSH-UPS’ — If you really struggle, just practicing the movement standing up or with a very light resistance band will help you.

DISH — If you can’t hold posture, you need to practice The Dish Exercise more and learn to transfer the feelings to other exercises.

HOLD STRAIGHT ARM STATIC PLANK — To build some basic arm strength.

SLOW DOWN — until you can do it well, then try to go fast.

ADJUST HEIGHT OF HANDS AND FEET TO MAKE EASIER OR HARDER — this should be enough for most people, except for the really strong folks.

ADD WEIGHT VEST — If you’re worthy.

ALTERNATIVES
If you can’t do Push Ups, or can’t do these effectively where you are, it’s difficult to come up with similar alternatives.

The best thing you can do if you want to add something is to pick something that works similar muscles. You needn’t worry though, I’d probably just focus extra effort on the other stuff in this month’s programme. But if you want alternatives consider:

–> Extra Tuck Planche Work.

–> Extra L-Sit work.

–> Extra Handstand Practice — (if you’re strong enough).

WHY ARE WE DOING THESE?
TO GET MORE-ATHLETIC! – These are going to develop muscle strength and athleticism in you chest, shoulders and triceps.

YOU’LL FEEL LIKE A KING – in a good way; not one who’s just made 31 difficult decisions and is aware of a plot to assassinate him. These will energise you and make you feel strong and powerful. That alone makes them worthwhile.

BUT WHY SPEED REPS? – Doing ‘speed reps’ trains your fast twitch fibers to be able to apply force quickly — so we develop power. But, this also translates to more strength, and thus it’s a great complement to traditional strength work. As there is only so much traditional strength work your body can handle, it pays off to do extra work in a ‘speed’ manner, hence, you get even stronger with less stress on your joints and draining of your nervous system.

THERE IS A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN TRAINING / PRACTICING INTELLIGENTLY, AND TRYING TO ‘GET TIRED’ AS MANY FOOLISHLY DO — and that’s why we do these. This might not be as tiring as trying to do “as many as you can” and then rushing onto the next random thing in a circuit class while trying to ‘beast yourself’, but training these with purpose, will make you a better athlete with a better body (and that’s what we are here for).

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