THE BASIC PUSH-UP...

A classic compound move for your chest, shoulders and triceps, that you can do anywhere, and that has endless progressions. Pick your level and build your strength.

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HOW TO PUSH-UP:

As ever, we have a whole host of progressions below to suit your strength level, outlined below,but here are the transferable tecnique basics:

HANDS ON THE FLOOR – But you knew that bit right?! Just wider than your chest would be appropriate.

BODY STRAIGHT – we want a neutral spine, long neck, hips level with chest… no sagging please.

CHEST LEVEL WITH HANDS – your nipple things should be level with your hands.

LONG SPINE – we want to feel tall and powerful.

EYES ON THE FLOOR – look ahead and you’ll lose your neck position, look straight down – make sure this long spine travels all the way to the neck and you’re not straining to look up.

START MOVE BY PUSHING CHEST OUT – We need to be ACTIVE on the way down. We are not simply falling, we are putting ourselves in position. Start the move by expanding your chest.

TUCK ELBOWS IN – Most people will feel stronger at first when they let their elbows splay out. But there’s no future here, except in weakness and injury. Ignore this desire and tuck your elbows in.

CHEST HITS THE FLOOR – Keep going until your chest hits the floor. Taps the floor anyway. Your chest should be on the floor, your hips a millimetre off. We want all our weight forward, all our weight in our arms and chest. Find the tension here, make sure you feel the load in your arms and Pecs.

SQUEEZE CHEST AND PUSH THE FLOOR AWAY TO COME BACK UP – Our body position doesn’t change. We hold still and reverse the movement. Practice until you can feel your pecks reversing the movement, powering you back up.

WHICH PROGRESSION?

In The Strength Sessions Programme, you need to first define how many reps you need to do, then pick the progression that fits. For Basic Push Up strength, you can simply choose the right level from The Push-Up Progression Ladder.

If you're a beginner and can't do any of the floor Push-Ups well, don't be ashamed, just find anything in the gym or your home to use foer the elevated hands style. if you're advanced, you'll need a few extra instructions for the Typewriter Push-Ups...

HOW TO TYPEWRITER PUSH-UPS

TYPEWRITER 1 to get used to having all your weight through one-arm at a time…

START IN A NORMAL PUSH UP POSITION — lower yourself down as normal

SLIDE TO ONE SIDE -- and gently touch your chest on your hand.

SLIDE TO THE OTHER SIDE --  tapping the chest just the same

SLIDE BACK TO THE MIDDLE -- pause, and then...

PUSH BACK UP — with your customary power and style of course.

These are much harder than normal Push-Ups, but not close to Single-Arm Push-Up strength. A real step in the right direction though, and even if you are good at Push-Ups, the combination of increased mechanical stress on the arm you move towards, and the general length of time you do these for…it makes it tough!

TYPEWRITER 2 — To get used to using almost entirely one arm.

START IN TOP OF PUSH UP POSITION — hands W I D E

GO DOWN TO ONE SIDE — tucking your working elbow into your side and straightening your other arm as much as possible.

SLIDE TO THE OTHER SIDE — smoothly, concentrating on keeping the chest under tension.

STAY ON THAT SIDE AND POWER BACK UP — Without sliding back to the middle. Focusing on the chest, delts and triceps of the arm you’re leaning on.

IF YOU HAVE THE STRENGTH, MOVE FURTHER AND REMOVE A FINGER! — or simply work towards totally straight spare arm which prevents it from assisting.

REVERSE THE MOVE! — or you’ll be all one-sided!

HOW YOU PEOPLE MESS IT UP...

Where to start?….. people butcher these in so many ways its untrue. Why? Because even though it’s ‘just a push up’ it takes body control and more strength than people give it credit for. Lets take a look:

YOUR HIPS SAG – Possibly the most common error of all. If your hips sag on a Push-Up, it takes the weight out of your chest, it puts your back in a bad position and takes your core out of the equation. It looks lazy, it looks bad, and it's easier than it should be.

The fix – Master the plank, practice so you know where you are, mentally shift and don’t try and do as many reps for a while. Adopt the 'Gymnastic Mindset' and dedicate all you got to learning the posture. You might not be able to claim you can do as many reps, but you will get a better body this way.

YOUR SHOULDERS SHRUG – Anyone with rounded shoulders, forward head posture, and anyone who hasn’t had much practical training – this is going to happen to you. Train yourself out of it before its too late.

The fix: Rehearse the movement standing up. Learn what a long neck feels like and make sure you can hold it throughout.

YOU ROUND YOUR SHOULDERS -- If your shoulders don’t hike up, they will probably want to round. Its a defensive or 'closed position'. Your body will want to go here. The fix is simple, make the chest stretch and feel your shoulder blades squeeze together at the back of the movement.

YOU HIKE YOUR HIPS – Less common, but equally as amusing to watch is the classic hip-hike. Here’s the thing: Push-Ups can be hard.  We -- consciously or otherwise -- tend to try and manipulate our body to make them easier. The thing is, we can’t see what we're doing!... Being a push up and all – our eyes are on the floor! So we can go mad – contort our bodies into all sorts of funny positions and then race out as many Push-Up things as we can. You won’t get far like this though – so fix it. The Fix – practice & awareness – use a mirror, film yourself, or get a spotter. More importantly, learn the correct feeling of good posture, then maintain it throughout.

YOU'RE DOING THE WRONG PROGRESSION– If you try and do a Push-Up progression you’re not ready for – as about 70% of people do (in my esteemed opinion) – and you will have bad technique. You can’t fluke this stuff. It will look bad and if you do enough of it, it will hurt you. It will NOT make your muscles look better (compared to using the right level of push up for you) – it will grind your tendons, stress your ligaments, mess with your shoulders and stress your neck. Naughty.

YOUR MINDSET IS WRONG – When I’m training a client, we are not trying to do 100 push ups. We are not taking on some stupid gimmicky challenge, we are using the Push-Up to get strong, to create an effect. With that mindset, we are not kidding ourselves that we are ‘fit’ because we can hit an arbitrary number that is actually a very different challenge for everyone as we all have different structures, weights and issues – we are creating change in our bodies – do it right and you won’t need to boast about how many push ups you can do… your body will do the talking for you.

ON THE TYPEWRITER PROGRESSIONS SPECIFICALLY…

IT GETS ALL SHOULDERY – your thumb should be in contact with your breast plate. At the bottom of the move. Your chest should be push out and exposed to the stress. If you can’t handle that, you might round your shoulder and let your thumb move too high up the chest. Don’t do this. It means you need more strength and more practice!

TWISTY TWISTY – Your body will do everything it can to take the stress out of the chest. Watch out for excess twisting. We may want a subtle rotation to increase the stress on the chest, but you mustn’t twist towards it, and as you travel hand to hand, your torso must be square tot he floor.

PULLING WITH THE SPARE ARM – When you’ve mastered these babies, you’ll have a completely straight ‘spare arm’ as you push back up. I like to get you to use a bent arm at first, but be conscious not to use it too much to assist. Then once you’re good, work towards straight it or removing it to ‘prove’ you’re not using it to cheat.

WICKED CUES!

GLUTE LOCK —> STRETCH YOUR CHEST – Simple powerful focus. Say it to yourself every rep and you’ll get better and better.

ELBOWS IN – This isn't a Triceps Push-Up, but we never want the elbows staright out to the sides.

HIPS HIGHER THAN CHEST – If your hips want to drop and you look like your humping the floor when you do push ups, try focusing on keeping your hips one millimetre higher than your chest for the whole time. It will help.

PRESSURE BACK OF NECK – Try this: sit tall, picture a double chin, try and give yourself one (if you need to try), then with your head in that position, without tilting it, slide your head backwards until you feel a slight pressure on the back of your head. Feel your chest stick out? Feel Strong? THIS is where you are strong. Get this feeling as you do your push ups. You will feel like your head is pulling away from the floor, like you have further to travel (you have). This will help you avoid most of the ‘broken body’ posture errors discussed above. I reckon that makes this the worlds greatest push up tip.

SEEK THE STRESS IN THE WORKING ARM – yes I know, you want to be really good at this and to beat your numbers. But as we say, all reps aren’t equal and remember why you’re putting yourself through this in the first place! The more force you can handle, the better your body will be. So feel for the hardest / best position you can at the bottom, and focus on overcoming the force on the way back up. Don’t let your body avoid it.

WHY DO IT TO YOURSELF?!

IT'S A FUNDAMENTAL SKILL – pushing, pulling, squatting, bending, hanging, crawling, twisting… these are all fundamental human movements. Most decent programmes will be based around these. The humble push up is a great way to introduce yourself to proper pushing technique.

CHEST. SHOULDERS. ARMS. – Push ups will build your chest, shoulder and arm muscles and you will look goooood!

CORE STRENGTH AND MOTOR CONTROL – When in this position, we need basic core strength and control, learn it here and you’ll be able to transfer this to other activities down the line.

EASY TO SCALE – we can practice on a chair or a table, making it really easy and just drill technique, then we can take it all the way to extreme performance with elevated feet, severe amounts of extra weight or amazing gymnastic skills. Like I said, it’s a fundamental skill. It shouldn’t really be about will you do it, more about which type suits you, appeals to you and inspires you. You could work on your Push-Ups for life – every time you hit 6 perfect reps move to a slightly harder style. Imagine what you could be doing after 5 years of that…

CONVENIENT – you don’t need much stuff. Just the floor, and yourself.

ALTERNATIVES...

If for some reason (I assume mechanical issue) you can't do Push-Ups, I suggest you add in extra work on any of these (in order of prerference):

BENT-ARM PLANCHE

STRAIGHT-ARM PLANCHE

BENT-ARM HANDSTAND

HANDSTAND

L-SIT

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