By Jordan Koroll, Sport Manitoba’s Coach/Athlete Development Coordinator - East
Body weight training is a fun and effective way to train - some call it the “all steak no sizzle strength training method.” It can be an effective method of developing athletic abilities at all levels. One of the key body weight training exercises with the biggest return is push-ups.
The push-up is a great total body exercise and can be done anywhere and can challenge athletes regardless of their ability or training location.
Push-up Progressions and Regressions
First a rant on push-ups: Most elementary school-aged kids have difficulty doing “correct push-ups” but are excellent at doing push-ups with poor technique that look more like a bad version of the worm, which can cause them to miss out on strength gains from the exercise.
Proper Push-up Technique
- Keep the shoulders away from the ears throughout the movement
- Keep elbows close to the body
- Hold a hollow body position throughout the movement
- Finish the push-up by pushing the shoulder blades away from each other at the end – which engages the serratus anterior and is good for shoulder health. Just like this guy!
If you see an athlete go into “survival mode” where the exercise is so difficult for them that they lose their form, tell the athlete to rest or modify the exercise so the technique is maintained. Working in “survival mode” increases the risk of injury and decreases the opportunity for improved strength.
Push-ups from the knees are better than no push-ups at all, but will not likely allow athletes to progress to completing a proper push-up. Instead, try:
- Elevating the hands or feet
- Using banding
- Hardstyle planking
- Practicing the hollow body position
Elevating the hands or feet: One of the easiest ways to regress or progress a push-up is by elevating the hands or feet by using a box, bench, bar, chair, rock, ball...etc.
Banding: Use bands at the bottom of the push-up where the exercise is the most difficult to avoid going into “survival mode." Put the band around your waist and have a coach or teammate assist you with the band during the most difficult part of the exercise.
Hardstyle plank: Instead of doing standard planks, try 3-5 sets of 10-second hardstyle planks. If you try this, make sure to rest and take shorter work periods than a normal plank.
- Hammer your fists into the ground
- Pull the elbow towards the toes without letting your hips go up
- Tuck your tailbone towards your belly button, and hold
Hollow body : Check out this technique. Maintain this position throughout this hold and work up to 60 seconds before progressing to more difficult variations.
How many push-ups can you do in a minute - using proper technique?
Hint: 45 is a very good number – good luck!