For years being able to do a Push Up has been portrayed as a good feat of strength. But why can so many of us not do one? In this blog we will delve into how we perform a Push Up and what is needed in order to complete one full push up.
What muscles are used in a Push Up?
A Push Up works a whole variety of muscles but the main ones being: Chest, Shoulders and triceps. It will also take some core strength as well. So, in order to be able to perform a Push Up we must have adequate strength in these main areas.
How to perform the perfect Push Up`
In order for you to see if you can do a Push up follow this list.
- Firstly, start on your knees
- Place your hands on the floor with straight arms in front just outside shoulder width, as you would if you were about to fall forward
- From there, bring your feet to the floor and lift your knees off the ground. Make sure there is a STRAIGHT LINE from the ankles, to the knees, to the hip, to the shoulders and from there to your head. Your wrists should also be directly under your shoulders at this point.
- You are now in a full plank position (in this position squeeze your abs nice and tight and hold as if you were to take a punch in the stomach form Mike Tyson)
- From here take a deep breath in and try to lower your whole body to the ground and then back up again while exhaling. Try tucking the elbows in towards your sides slightly. Make sure to retain that straight rigid body throughout the movement
What if I’m struggling to do the perfect Push Up?
To make this exercise easier, simply bring your knees to the ground and try again. Or if you still struggle, try putting your hands on a raised surface. Both these two ways are a simple regression from a normal push up, so practicing these will help overall. Now instead of practising easier modifications of a push up over and over again, there are other elements of exercises that will also help you to achieve that goal.
What other exercises can help me do a Push Up?
What other areas should we focus on? Scapular retraction… or put simply, squeezing your shoulders blades together. An easy way to help me perform this is by imagining someone has placed a tennis ball directly in the centre between both my shoulder blades and from there I need to squish that ball by only using my shoulder blades.
Try this by standing up and having your arms out straight in front of you like you would for an actually Push Up. From here imagine the tennis ball and squeeze. That is Scapular Retraction.
Now go back into that full plank position we did earlier and squeeze those shoulder blades back and forth but when you separate the shoulders blades try doing so as far as you can.
Your upper back may arch slightly (this is fine, as long as it’s only the top of your back). Perform this for 10 repetitions 4x sets and not only will this help better stabilise those muscles on your back, but it will also strengthen the triceps. We will call this exercise Full Plank Scap Retractions.
In addition, most weighted chest exercise such as, Barbell Bench Press, Dumbbell Chest Press etc will help with a push up as these will strengthen those main muscles needed.
Here is a small Push Up program anyone can use in order to help improve. If you are already at the point of being able to perform a couple of press ups, simply change the first exercise to normal Push Ups and perform as many as you can,
|PUSH UP PROGRAM||SSETS||REPS||WEIGHT||TEMPO
Speed in which to perform exercise
|INCLINE PUSH UP||4||5||BW||2:1|
|FULL PLANK /SCAP RETRACTIONS||4||10||BW||2:3 SQUEEZE SHOULDERS FOR 2 and keep pushed apart for 3|
|DUMBBELL CHEST PRESS
|Choose a weight that you will fail at 10reps||2:1
|FULL PLANK HOLD
(seperate shoulder blades as much as you can on hold)
Don’t allow your hips to dip or raise
Now remember building strength doesn’t happen overnight so be patient and keep consistent and you will eventually get there!