The motivation to write this article comes from a driving force to remind people that often times in life the simple answer is the correct answer. Unfortunately, what seems to happen more often yet, is over complication of simple matters. In the fitness world, novices or the uneducated are guilty of this most of the time. In my opinion this happens for two reasons. One, it just seems too simple to be true and thus something more complicated must be the answer. Two, people just want to feel or look smarter for coming up with a complicated equation to solve a simple solution. These two reasons, even though they are wrong, are the only reasons I can think of for the lack of popularity surrounding the push-up in strength training.
If you are a frequent visitor of this blog you know my thoughts on the importance using the barbell lifts to build strength no matter your goals. However, a close second is body weight exercises and for the purpose of this article specifically the push-up. The push-up has been around since the beginning of time yet most people brush it off when it is referred to as one of best exercises to build upper body strength. I can only assume that this is because most people perceive it as boring and too simple to be so effective. In reality, it still is and always will be, one of the most effective ways of building not only upper body strength but also shoulder stability and health. For these reasons, it is one of the best accessory lifts you can choose to build a bigger bench press or overhead press yet I rarely ever see anyone doing pushups in the commercial gyms I visit. This can also be because pushups are generally very difficult for the untrained individual. Now, I have never not done an exercise because I deemed it boring. Heck I’d watch paint dry if I thought it would give me a bigger bench press. However, I am also not naïve to the fact that some may find the push up boring and I also respect the push-up enough to know that it can be very difficult for some people. So in the following sections I have provided how I teach my clients to progress the push-up and also different variations of the push-up you can try with all being effective in their own way.
- Push-Up Progression
- Can’t play video? Click here: Push Up Progression
- Note: You can also progress these at home using any elevated surface such as a counter top, coffee table, stairs, etc. and progress the same way you would using the barbell, lowering yourself closer to the floor to make it more difficult.
- Can’t play video? Click here: Conventional Push Up
- Can’t play video? Click here: Narrow Stance Push Up
- Note: These can be diamond push-ups but do not necessarily have to be. A narrow stance with your hands will do just fine.
- Can’t play video? Click here: Wide Stance Push Up
- Can’t play video? Click here: Staggered Stance Push Up
- One Leg
- Can’t play video? Click here: 1 Leg Push-Up
- Can’t play video? Click here: Clapping Push Up
- Can’t play video? Click here: Plyo Push Up
- Note: Unlike the clapping push-ups these are meant to be quick and short contact with the ground. Try your best not to use the stretch reflex to propel yourself back up. Simply hit the ground and quickly rebound back off of it. These are a lot tougher than you may think!
- Can’t play video? Click here: Feet Up Push-Up
- Can’t play video? Click here: Pike Push-Up
- Can’t play video? Click here: Unstable Push-Up
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