Push Ups are basically moving Iso Abs. That means that the core should remain engaged throughout the entire movement. Because the core remains engaged, Push Ups are an extremely efficient and functional exercise. However, bear in mind that Push Ups can also bring about back pain, shoulder pain, and inflexible shoulder joints when performed improperly. Practice full range of motion with good form on every repetition. When technique falters, try the Band Assisted Push Up, Elevated Push Up, or Modified Push Up described below.
- Hands on the floor just wider than shoulder width, fingertips forward, arms straight (but not locked), extend your legs straight behind you with toes on the floor.
- Engage your deep core muscles by tilting your pelvis slightly and drawing your navel in toward your back (Ab Draw). Do not let your hips sag, which would disengage the abs and put strain on your low back.
- Keep your neck in line with your spine to form a straight line from head to feet.
- As you inhale, slowly bend your elbows, lowering your body as one unit, until your chest is about 1 inch from the floor or upper arms are parallel to the floor.
- As you push up quickly, exhale as much air as possible.
Note: If you are unable to complete a conventional Push Up with full range of motion and perfect form, try one of the options below.
Band Assisted Push Up
The Band Assisted Push Up is most like the conventional Push Up and therefor is my go to exercise for athletes who struggle with form and range of motion. The band takes some bodyweight away allowing the completion of a push up in it’s natural position. The thicker the band, the easier the push up will be. Begin in a prone position with the band in the crease of the hips.
Elevated Push Up
Like the Band Assisted Push Up, the Elevated Push Up takes some bodyweight away, however it’s not exactly the same position as the conventional Push Up. With hands elevated, the core is less engaged and the primary muscle focus of the push up shifts from the middle to lower chest. I like using a bar placed inside a squat rack because it can be adjusted to different heights. When a squat rack isn’t available a bench or a step is your next best option.
Modified Push Up From the Knees
The Modified Push Up from the Knees can be a good alternative for athletes who don’t have access to equipment needed for other forms of Modified Push Ups. From the knees you have turned off some of the stabilizers in your hips and core so athletes should be encouraged to try as many conventional Push Ups as possible with good from before dropping to their knees to complete the set. Note that incorporating Iso Abs into routines will improve core strength and enable athletes to work toward completing more push ups from the toes.