THE PUSH-UP PROGRESSION LADDER

THE PUSH-UP PROGRESSION LADDER

PROGRESSION 1: ELEVATED HAND PUSH UP

 

CRITERIA:
–> You must hold your body straight. Like a plank. A human Plank.
–> Shoulders must stay in a good position throughout.
–> Breast Plate must go as low as your hands.

Notes:

These are easier than doing Push-Ups on the floor, but many of your may have a few months of strength work before you get on the ladder (get past these). Tough luck! You’ll get there.

PROGRESSION 2: WIDE LEG PARTIAL PUSH-UPS

 

Criteria:

–> You must hold your body straight. Like a plank. A human Plank. All the way from tail to head.
–> Shoulders must stay in a good position throughout.
–> Chest must go half-way to the floor

Notes:

So they say…Wide legs is easier than straight (shorter lever to control — core wise)…you might agree they are easier — but be warned, not everybody does.

Regardless, this is the second rung on the ladder. I prefer this to the dreaded ‘kneeling push-ups’ or worse still ‘girly’ ones. It’s both a mindset, and a technique thing. If you start here, with partials, it’s like a declaration of intent: “watch out real push-ups, I’m coming for you”. Kneeling Push-Ups are like admitting defeat before you start. Technique wise, kneeling Push Ups make it virtually impossible to learn to control your core. The dreaded ‘stripper back’ is an inevitability. Maybe I’m being a bit pedantic, but hey, I’m sticking with it.

PROGRESSION 3: WIDE LEG DEEP PUSH-UPS
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VID

Criteria:

–> You must hold your body straight. Like a plank. A human Plank. All the way from tail to head.
–> Shoulders must stay in a good position throughout.
–> Chest must go three-quarters of the way to the floor.

Notes:

A logical next step. You can control for a partial, now control most of the way to the floor. The chest doesn’t have to hit the floor yet, but soon it will.

PROGRESSION 4: FEET TOGETHER PARTIAL PUSH-UPS

 

Criteria:

–> You must hold your body straight. Like a plank. A human Plank. All the way from tail to head.
–> Feet must be together.
–> Shoulders must stay in a good position throughout.
–> Chest must go three-quarters of the way to the floor

Notes:

Slightly harder than wide leg, but this is only a subtle shift, it shouldn’t take too long to move from wide-leg to feet together.

PROGRESSION 5: MOST OF THE WAY PUSH-UPS
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VID

Criteria

–> You must hold your body straight. Like a plank. A human Plank. All the way from tail to head.
–> Feet together
–> Shoulders must stay in a good position throughout. No rounding forwards.
–> Chest must go three-quarters of the way to the floor.

Notes:

You can control for a partial, now control most of the way to the floor. The chest doesn’t have to hit the floor yet, but soon it will.

PROGRESSION 6: CHEST TO FLOOR PUSH-UPS

 

Criteria

–> Chest must touch the floor
–> You must hold your body straight. Like a plank. A human Plank. All the way from tail to head.
–> Feet together
–> Shoulders must stay in a good position throughout.

Notes:

For some strong folks, ‘close-to-the-floor’ and ‘to-the-floor’ are no different at all. For many, there’s a significant difference in difficulty. This is often the case for folks banging out 15-20 reps and finding it no problem, but when you find it tough to knock out 3-5 decent Push Ups, the difference between ‘close-to-the-floor’ and ‘to-the-floor’ is a pretty big deal. Knowing that should help you stay patient with these.

PROGRESSION 7: ONE-SECOND PAUSE PUSH-UPS

 

Criteria:

–> Chest must touch the floor, then be held there for a full second with body in perfect shapoe and all the mechanical stress held. no relaxing.
–> You must hold your body straight. Like a plank. A human Plank. All the way from tail to head.
–> Feet together
–> Shoulders must stay in a good position throughout.

Notes:

This takes another lever of strength for two reasons: first the pause increases the mechanical work you gotta do. Second, it takes out the elastic rebound you get from your muscle fibres on traditional reps, so we need ‘dead-start strength’.

PROGRESSION 8: EXTRA DEEP PUSH-UPS

 

Criteria:

–> You must go clearly below the level of where the floor would be if you were doing push-ups on the floor.
–> You must hold your body straight. Like a plank. A human Plank. All the way from tail to head.
–> Feet together
–> Shoulders must stay in a good position throughout.

Notes:

As with any exercises, increase the range of motion and you’ll need to be stronger to execute. Just because most people do Push-Ups on the floor, that doesn’t mean that’s the only range of motion the body is designed to press in. These add another level of strength ion both the chest arms and shoulders (the primary movers here), but also in your core. Watch out for loss of pelvis control and an arching back on these. remember, it’s only a pass if the body stays plank-like.

PROGRESSION 9: GYMNASTIC STYLE PUSH-UPS

 

Criteria:

–> Ones shoulder blades must fully protracted at the top
–> Elbows must be tucked into body as you move
–> Chest must hit the floor at the bottom
–> Elbows must lockout at the top
–> Pelvis MUST be held in a posterior tilt throughout.

Notes:

These are Push-Ups with increased range of motion again. You’ll need more chest and more tricep strength to get you into lock-out at the top. Plus, you must tuck your elbows in on the way down…so it’s a jump up in strength compared to normal Push-Up. Plus, it’s gymnastics — so there is increased emphasis on control and body position. To get a pass-mark on these, one must be able to control ones pelvis. No more hanging out with an arched back, we said it on the early versions, but here it’s evcn stricter. Make sure you’ve got the coordination and lower ab strength to control your position.

PROGRESSION 10: EXTRA DEEP GYMNASTIC PUSH-UPS
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VID

Criteria:

–> Shoulder blades must fully protract at the top
–> Elbows must be tucked into body as you move
–> Chest must hit the floor at the bottom
–> Elbows must lockout at the top
–> Pelvis held in a posterior tilt.
–> Chest must go clearly below where the floor would be if you were doing them on the flat

Notes:

All as above, but with added range of motion and therefor difficulty. We are getting towards the preserve of the very strong and athletic now.

PROGRESSION 11: ADDED LOAD PUSH-UPS (10% EXTRA)
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VID

Criteria:

–> Must use weight plate or vest increasing body weight by 10%
–> Shoulder blades must fully protract at the top
–> Elbows must be tucked into body as you move
–> Chest must hit the floor at the bottom
–> Elbows must lockout at the top
–> Pelvis held in a posterior tilt.
–> Chest must go clearly below where the floor would be if you were doing them on the flat

Notes:

A weight vest or plate on your back will do nicely for these. It’s a simple, but challenging progression. You know you’re cool when someone asks you to do push-ups and you have to ask for added weight.

PROGRESSION 11: ADDED LOAD PUSH-UPS (20% EXTRA)

 

Criteria:

–> Must use weight plate or vest increasing body weight by 20%
–> Shoulder blades must fully protract at the top
–> Elbows must be tucked into body as you move
–> Chest must hit the floor at the bottom
–> Elbows must lockout at the top
–> Pelvis held in a posterior tilt.
–> Chest must go clearly below where the floor would be if you were doing them on the flat

Notes:

Once you can do this, you’ll have some real transferable strength that you can unleash on plenty of fancy things. Plus you might as well take down the final two rungs of this ladder and start doing your press-ups one arm at a time.

PROGRESSION 12: TYPEWRITER PUSH-UPS
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VID

Criteria:

–> Your Chest must hit your hand at either end of the move
–> There must be no visible signs of being hurried
–> You must press back up without sliding back towards the middle
–> One on each arm = 1 rep. Both arms must achieve required reps for it to count.
–> The grounded palm must be off floor for rep to count

Notes:

These ones are a little subjective to score. But that’s OK, if they were all absolutely cut and dry then there wouldn’t be any scope for argument and that would be no fun at all.

Any two reps of these could be quite different in difficulty level, so we must remember their purpose. Of course you just want a tick on the progression ladder, but really, your using them to prepare yourself for the actual One-Arm Push-up thing.

So, keep it super strict when you’re training these, mentally ‘switch off’ the arm that’s you’ve moved away from. See it as a one-arm press.

PROGRESSION 12: THE SINGLE-ARM PUSH-UP
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VID

Criteria:

–> Chest must hit floor
–> Arm must lockout at the top
–> Some body rotation allowed, but excess will be penalised with a red flag

Notes:

Most folks (including myself at the time of writing) can’t do these well. You need massive chest arm and shoulder strength (relative to bodyweight). Plus you need the anti-rotation core strength to hold your body in a good position.

Master these, be able to do them, and make them look good, and you’ll be the proud owner of quite the physique and quite the iconic strength skill.

You’ll also have destroyed this progression ladder, mastered this part of The Strength Sessions. Well done.

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