5 Tips on How To Improve Your Push-Ups

Push-Ups were in the 2011 CrossFit Open but haven't been seen since. They may or may not make a come back...basically, I think it is too hard to judge...so we will see.

Nevertheless, it is never too late to work on your technique because Push-Ups are still a great exercise.

1. Here is what good push ups look like...

If your push ups don't look like that, then read on! If they do, make sure they look like that as long as possible!

2. Elbows in or out?

When the elbows are out at 90deg, you are basically doing a pec dominant push up...which is why when we get tired, we all end up with our elbows out - the pecs are simply bigger than our triceps.

With the elbows in, we share the load and our arms, which have smaller muscles, have to do more work. This results in fatigue setting in faster.

Which way is ideal? Well, the body likes many choices to do the one thing so I recommend that you do all the different types of push ups there are - just a few of the variations include hands-close, hands shoulder-width, hands outside shoulder-width, hands at different heights, etc etc. You can use blocks and handles to vary the hand and wrist positions as well.

In the end, variation is key...but work on your weakest ones the most!

3. Be patient

Remember to call the end of your set or have a rest when you cannot maintain a good spinal position or shoulder position. Pushing on through your reps is riskier...just take 10-15secs to get a better quality of repetition out. If you are trying to improve your push up strength, then take your usual 30-90secs rest between sets.

Waiting for your weakest muscles to catch up is often neurological rather than building muscles...so it doesn't take too long.

4. Get the chest to the floor...with a straight body!

I know you get tired. So do I. But you are only cheating yourself if you don't get through the full range of motion. Keep the whole line of your body straight - from the neck to the ankles. In fact, at any given time in your push-ups, you should be able to take a photo of it, turn it sideways and it should look like you standing up with your hands holding a wall up 🙂

5. Keep those shoulders strong and centered

Lots of push ups can result in shoulder injuries. This is because as we fatigue, we can "round" those shoulders into protraction. When you combine protraction with shoulder extension (bottom of the push up), you will cause strain on the anterior shoulder muscles. Often the biceps tendon is the worst affected.

Keeping the shoulders in a good position with the humeral head in the center of the socket is crucial for maintaining good shoulder health. The ideal scapula position is difficult to define because your shoulders will need to move during the movement. This is one movement you need to work with a coach on...if your coach doesn't know, then message me...this is very difficult to describe in words :/ I do cover this information during my shoulder seminars - www.mypteducation.com


6 Tips Common to All Movements 

Basically similar to my blog on preparing for the Open...

1. Practice your technique NOW

  • Feel comfortable in practice with competition technique and Range of Motion (ROM) and it will feel comfortable in competition.
  • Good technique is the most efficient way to complete the reps. For most movements, keep your back straight for crying out aloud!!
  • Motor patterns are strengthened with perfect practice - the more reps you do perfectly, the more likely you will do them

2. Continue your strengthening program (or start NOW!)

  • There are still 7 weeks before the Open starts and 11 weeks until it ends - there is time to make gains!
  • If you just get one more rep out because you are just a little bit stronger or you get a PB because you improved enough to achieve it, there is no better feeling in the Open. Last year, I got a 135lbs snatch 4 times - I got my first the day before I did 13.1. I also got my first CTB pullup during the Open. Strength helps!
  • If you are a Regionals athlete, the Open should just be a speed bump in your training program.
  • I have never heard anyone say "If I was only a bit weaker for that workout, I would have done better"!

3. Get your Coach to help identify and rectify your weaknesses

  • Most coaches are happy to tell you what to work on and will give you accessory (additional) exercises to do after your workouts.
  • Most coaches will have some form of one-on-one coaching sessions they can do with you - these are worth it for beginners and experienced athletes alike
  • If you do ask your coach for help and you DO NOT do what they say, then please DO NOT ask them for more help until you have done what they told you to do already!! Nothing is more frustrating to a coach than someone who asks for help but then doesn't do it.
  • If you have done everything you are told to do and your coach doesn't want to help you, ask yourself if you are in the right box or asking the right person...this should be extremely rare...in general and basically every box I have been to (over 20) and coaches I know (well over 50) have had coaches that are willing to help the athletes and care about their safety.

4. Sort your niggles out

  • One of the most common comments I hear is "If I had known how much better I would feel, I would have come sooner"
  • 'Nuff said!

5. Don't push to failure

  • Rich Froning rarely fails a rep. Don't waste your energy on failed reps. Rest and just concentrate on making good reps. Pushing to failure is a waste of time and energy and significantly increases your risk of injury...

6. Lose the "sins of Christmas" - get that body fat% down!

  • This one is for my friend John Z - all the bodyweight movements in the Open will get better if you are carrying less fat.

I am always keen to hear tips from other athletes, coaches and health professionals. Leave your comments below!

1 Response

  1. Pingback : 5 Tips on Preparing for the 2014 CrossFit Open | The Physio Detective

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