6 Simple Training Tips To Get Into a Good Starting Position
(This post is Part 1 of a four-part article series to help you improve your Push-Up Exercises)
How easy are Push-Up exercises for you? A piece of cake; easy to pump out 5, 10, 25+ reps without breaking form, no problem. Or, do you struggle thru, finding yourself dreading the exercise and wondering what you can do (besides more frequent practice) in hopes that at some point you’ll hit the tipping point and magically your push-up exercises will get easier?
Push-Ups done well are NOT just a Pec Exercise. In my opinion, the chest muscles are the least important muscle group for the execution of successful push-up exercises. I’ve been polling my studio clients lately to see what goals and exercises they’d like to focus on improving in the coming months. Improving upper body strength has come up numerous times for both my male and female clients. And, while I’ve spent a good amount of time helping them perfect their push-ups, there always seems to be another little piece of the puzzle; a piece that's important for improving movement technique and maximizing the health benefits of this fabulous upper body strengthening exercise.
In this 4-part series, I will provide some training tips for you to consider in order to improve how you move for your Push-Up exercises. I think you’ll see noticeable improvements quickly, once you start paying attention to the little details; which will ultimately help you to improve your Push-Up Exercises.
My favorite Push-Up, the one I ultimately challenge you to practice, is the Pilates version. There are a million variations of Push-Up exercises you can play with - from hand placement, to leg placement, to angles of work, to where the arms are tracking while they bend and straighten. For a Pilates Push-Up exercise, the upper arms stay close to the body as you move up and down. If you’re in a Yoga class doing your Sun Salutations, this movement is similar to lowering the body for Chaturanga Dandasana.
Done well, Push-Up Exercises are an awesome upper body (and whole-body)
strengthening exercise! Done poorly, Push-Up exercises can potentially be a quick way to strain your low back and injure a shoulder. A Push-Up is the body weight version of both a Bench Press and Rowing exercise in the weight room. If your body mechanics aren’t working efficiently for one version, there is a good chance that you’re continuing to reinforce your bad habits anywhere else you’re practicing a similar movement. Are you ready to fine-tune your focus and pay attention to how you’re executing your Push-Up exercises?
The most important part of a good Push-Up is getting into a good starting position. Getting strong in a good Push-Up Prep position is critical because you've got to hold this position while you bend and straighten the arms for your Push-Ups.
Here are a few training tips to help you get set for a perfect Push-Up:
PUSH-Up Prep: 6 Simple Training Tips To Get Into a Good Starting Position
It’s very important you set up the body from the bottom to top in a long, straight, strong, diagonal line. Start by practicing your Push-Up prep as a stand-alone exercise. Just get into position, hold it, and take 3-10 breaths while reinforcing your long, strong, lifted diagonal line.
- Start on your knees
- Reach the legs back to stand on your heels
- Pike to start with the hips UP, then reach back into the heels
- Tailbone lengthens down towards the heels to elongate the lower back
- Low abs stay lifted while the Glutes & inner thighs engage
- Shoulder blades glide down your back (Diamond Down-Lower Traps Working) to help lengthen the upper back, chest, neck, and head away from our low center core support
If there is too much weight or pressure on your wrists and hands, you are not in a good position. The more lifted you can stay, by using your breath and low belly to keep your spine up and weight back over the hips, the easier it will be to hold your Push-Up Prep position.
Modify Your Position:
You can also practice your Push-Up prep by doing a forearm “plank.” This option will have less stress on the wrists and hands while you’re organizing the rest of the body and practicing getting stronger in your push-up position.
To help you find and hold a good position, practice your Push-Up Prep with your feet on a wall. Keep your heels pressing firmly towards the wall while you go through each step - 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6. Then, hold and breath with the tailbone and heels continuing to reach towards the wall; your low abs lifting, up, in, and back, while keeping the shoulders down. Keep this form and you’re practicing everything that’s required to maintain a perfect body position for your Push-Up exercises.
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