The Power Of The Push-Up

For most guys, some form of pushing is the most favoured exercise in the gym. The go to for most men is Bench Press, cable flyes or push ups. I imagine this is because men enjoy the "pump" they get, they see the muscles they are working in the mirror and they feel "powerful". 

In this newsletter, I would like to give you three simple progressions that are both safe on your shoulders and will help you build pushing strength. 


1. Elevated Push-Up (If you do not have access to a squat rack, try this instead)

Why Choose This?

When most people start exercising they don't have the ability to push themselves up from the floor. Having an elevated surface allows them build their strength slowly and safely. If you are lucky enough to have a free squat rack with adjustable pins then you can lower the incline as you progress, until you are ready for a full push up from the floor.  

Coaching Tips

  1. Position your feet together, keeping the legs close.
  2. Squeeze your glutes/ bum cheeks together and tuck your pelvis under slightly
  3. Start with your arms extended 
  4. Lower yourself with control down to the bar/ bench. You should be lowering to nipple line on the chest. 
  5. Once you touch the bar, think about pushing the bar away from you. 

Watch Out For

  • This is actually a core exercise, not just an upper body exercise. Be sure to keep you core stable and avoid the hips sagging as this can compromise the safety of your back. 
  • Avoid pushing away with the arms in a "T" shape as this encourages internal rotation of the shoulder and cause injuries.
  • Try to push with the arms in more of an "A" shape so the shoulders, chest, triceps and shoulder blades can work together. 


2. Body Weight Push-Up

Why Choose This?

A natural progression for the elevated push-up. I like my clients to think of this as a "core sequencing" movement. What I mean by core sequencing is that certain muscles activate sequentially to create tension at the right time for the body to move as a single unit. You can see when this does not happen because people arch their lower backs and the rest of the body compensates to lift the body off the floor. 

The push up is a simple way to build body weight strength and give us a foundation of strength before we start adding load via weighted vests, or even DB's. 

Ideally, I like my clients to be able to do 20 push-ups in a row for men and 10 for women before we start loading. 

Coaching Tips

  1. Place the hands below the shoulders, feet together, legs together, tense the legs so the knees are off the floor, squeeze the glutes and tuck the pelvis under slightly. 
  2. Before lifting push the toes into the floor and press your hands against the floor.
  3. Once you have enough tension, push the floor away from you with your hands.
  4. Keep the glutes squeezed hard and try to lift your upper body and torso at the same time.
  5. Lower back to the floor as one unit with control


Watch Out For

  • Arching of lower back
  • Arms in "T" shape
  • Squirming/ contorting your body to force yourself up
  • Hands too close or too far apart


3. Gymnastic Rings Push Up

Why Choose This?

Gymnastic rings are a great way to add instability to a push-up, the ability to rotate the hands in the movement and also allows us the additional range of motion that helps improve the overall health of the shoulder. 


When we get very deep in the movement it creates a nice stretch on the chest/ shoulders. This also allows the shoulder blades to move freely and stabilise the front of the shoulder. 


The free-moving nature of the rings adds extra challenge and many varieties to keep this exercise interesting. (For example, archer push-ups). 

If this gets easy, then we can change the foot elevation (the higher the harder) and eventually add a weighted vest for additional load. 

Coaching Tips

  1. Using all the queues from the push-ups, adjust yourself into a strong starting position.
  2. Lower yourself down with control to the bottom range of motion.
  3. Feel a slight stretch on the front of the shoulder and press the rings away.
  4. On the way up think about bringing the rings slightly closer together to create tension.
  5. As you lower with control allow the rings to come slightly wider, but not too wide as you will lose stability. 

Watch Out For

  • Going too wide at the bottom or top of the movement. 
  • Arching the lower back.
  • Lowering too far down.
  • Continuing until too fatigued or through pain. 
  • Focus on quality over quantity.

Yours In Health

Patrick Fallis

Founder of Leaner