Jul 18, 2018
The Power of Push-Ups

The push-up is a staple in almost any strength and conditioning program. This dependable exercise is easy to teach and doesn’t require any equipment, making it one of the best ways to build strength for all types of athletes. Along with the standard push-up, there are also a number of variations that are worth giving a try.

Brandon Richey, CSCS, contributor to BreakingMuscle.com, describes how to take the standard push-up even further to achieve greater strength gains and other strength objectives. All it takes are some creative variations, which can also help mix up a training routine.

Walkout Push-Up

According to Richey, a common mistake made when performing push-ups involves hand placement. By looking at how a person’s hands are placed on the ground, you can tell whether they’re inhibited in their technique. For example, if their fingers are close together then they’re weak in activation, says Richey. Therefore, you should encourage athletes to flare their fingers apart and try to grip the ground when doing a push-up, as this will help develop a higher level of proficiency in the movement.

A walkout push-up is a great way for athletes to learn how to handle the ground at the point of contact with their hands. They will be forced to grip the ground and have complete control over their body, which will help them execute their push-ups much more effectively.

Hindu Push-Up

Richy recommends this variation because it helps better strengthen the shoulders while also stretching the lats. Start out in the downward dog yoga position and then perform a swooping motion as if you are diving under a fence post. This variation helps athletes both strengthen and stretch, which can also aid with overhead lifting movements.

Push-Up Dumbbell Drag

This variation adds a new challenge, as athletes will have to use a dumbbell or kettlebell. After performing a push-up, they will drag the dumbbell across their body, which intensifies the movement and forces them to engage their core. When moving the dumbbell, athletes should resist the urge to twist their trunk. According to Richey, this anti-rotational type of resistance will help improve their ability to perform other rotational movements.

Glide Disc Push-Up

To perform this challenging movement, athletes will need a glide disc or a furniture mover disc, which can be found at most hardware stores. The benefit of this variation is that athletes essentially perform both a push and pull type of movement within a single push-up.

Start by placing one hand on the ground and one on the disc. As you descend into the base of the push-up, slide the disc hand above your head, bringing your shoulder into flexion. As you ascend back up, push with the grounded hand while pulling the disc back in front of your body, bringing you back into the upright starting position for the movement. You can also do another variation by sliding the disc out to the side.

Plank to Push-Up

This is a more advanced variation that provides a serious challenge. First, athletes should start in a plank position resting on their forearms. Then they should rock their chest forward and bring it over their forearms. From there, they should try to create whatever momentum they can to spring up out of the plank position and onto their fists, bringing their body into an upright push-up position. To complete the movement, they will perform a standard push-up on their knuckles.

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