I’ve said this before, and I will say it again, pushups are definitely the biggest ‘ego busting’ movement that we teach in our gym. It’s the one movement people will come into the gym thinking they can bust out ten in a row, to realize they actually can’t do a single one properly. It reminds me of when I went to university and was thinking I was able to back squat 200+ pounds, but in reality I wasn’t even hitting a parallel squat. My ego was a little bruised when I actually learnt how to do the movement properly, and then realized I could barely squat 100 pounds.
They are a way harder movement than people expect, and they require a lot of upper body strength and stability. If you haven’t gotten what we like to call a ‘strict push up’ yet, I’m going to give you some progression ideas to help you build up strength to do so. Also, if you have recently got a few push ups, and now want to increase volume, we also have ways to get you stronger and get that number up!
What I mean when I say ‘strict push up’ is when you get full range of motion with this movement. That means your chest making contact with the floor, but not making contact to the floor with your hips. After you make contact with the floor, you then push up, keeping your torso straight. You don’t want to have any ‘worming’ while you push up from the floor.
Like I said before, this movement is way more difficult than people expect, so if you can’t do real push ups yet, don’t sweat it! There are lots of other movements we can do to build that upper body strength!
If we want to keep with the same push up movement, but want to scale to make it easier but still get that same full range of motion, there are two main movements we do. A banded push up, and push ups to a bench or box. The great thing about both of these scaling options is that we can adjust band resistance or bench height depending on the needs of each individual.
A couple other great ways to build up strength to achieve push ups would be different variations of bench press. Essentially, it is the same movement, just turned the other way around, and we have many different variations of bench press. Whether it be close grip, dumbbells, or regular bench press. At Southwest Strength, you’ll see both barbells and dumbells being used for the bench press for wider variation.
These movements aren’t the only movements to practice to achieve a push up, they are just the closest to the movement itself. At Southwest Strength, we always strive to give our members tones of different pushing and pulling variations, adding tempo to our lifts, progressing reps and sets to always keep it interesting, and keep testing your muscles in different ways to get everyone to their goals of being stronger!
So now, say you are able to do a couple reps of perfect push ups, but you want to increase that volume. Again, we have lots of variations to build up even more strength so you’re able to do multiple reps while still being able to maintain proper form.
Aside from the movements I talked about above, a great movement to practice would be hand release push ups. These take away any momentum you may use doing regular push ups, and really make you rely purely on strength. This movement will also challenge your core, since it forces you to stay tight throughout your midline to maintain a straight torso.
Another good variation of the push ups to improve your volume and horizontal pressing strength is ring push ups. Basically they are exactly what they sound like, push ups on rings. You will want to place rings about a foot from the ground, shoulder width apart. Doing push ups on rings will be more challenging than doing them on the floor, just because you are now adding that stabilizing factor.
At the end of the day, we can give you all the tools needed for you to accomplish a push up, but it all depends on how hard you plan to work towards that goal, or any goal you may have!