Coaches everywhere use push-ups as punishment, or motivation to urge on the youngest of athletes. As young athletes turn into older athletes, it’s important that they learn the proper way to do a push-up. The push up is an outstanding core-strengthening exercise if done properly. However, the correct way is hardly ever taught and any benefit of actually doing the push up is lost. And, in some cases, kids may hurt themselves.
When done correctly, the push-up can be a valuable addition to anyone’s fitness program. But, you must proceed with caution and proper execution. If you do not, you are asking for a sore neck and shoulders. People who do too many push-ups incorrectly have been known to develop injuries, such as biceps tendonitis, wrist pain, neck pain, and in some extreme cases, rotator cuff tears.
When executing a push-up, make sure to follow a few key points:
- Start by lying down on the floor to prep the body
- Bring your legs together and tuck your toes
- Straighten your legs out and keep them tight.
- Squeeze your butt and abs
- Bring your hands near your armpits
- Tuck your chin and pull your head back
- Elevate your feet; use Olympic rings, or external weight to increase intensity. To decrease intensity, go on your knees. I will be going over some variations next!
- Hold your body tight and push-up!
If you are a coach of a youth sports team, or a trainer of large groups if you don’t think they can do a proper pushup, here are some alternatives, just as effective and equally challenging for their current fitness level.
Be sure to keep good posture at all times as explained above. Properly angle your body until the push-up feels natural against the wall.
In order to perform a proper push-up, you should be able to hold a traditional plank for at least 30-seconds. This is to properly ensure that you can stabilize your core during the push-up. During the plank, stay as stable as possible and think of balancing a glass of water on your lower back to maintain a neutral spine. Keep the entire body tight during the whole set. This is also a great alternative for athletes that have an upper-body injury, or for variety as a strength builder.
Decreasing your lever arm is the perfect way to regress the push-ups. Simply keep all the same form cues in mind, just stay on your knees instead of the feet. Once you can perform 10 perfect push-ups on the kness, you can progress to standard push-ups and give them a try.
Form and range of motion are far more important than the number of push-ups that you perform. If you start to break from, take a rest and then repeat until you reach the desired number of repetitions.
Feet Elevated Push-ups
This one is for the advanced athlete. If you can perform 3 sets of 15 reps of the standard push-ups with perfect form, you may be ready for the next level: feet elevated push-ups.
Push-ups will always stay in style in the fitness world and will hold great value. Not all push-ups are created equal and are not for everyone. Find what push-up variation works for you before you start performing a ton of push-ups. You will see much better progress by following the right progression.