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Blog The ImPECcable Push-Up Guide | Part 2

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The ImPECcable Push-Up Guide | Part 2

  • by David O' Connor
  • August 19, 2016

Part 1 which went through the fundamentals on the push-up is a must read before this, so if you haven’t read Part 1 Yet – Read that here: 

And with Part 2, we’re going to run through some ‘Regressions’ with the push-up if you’re not able to push-up off the floor right now and some ‘Progressions’ if you’re pushing off the floor (with full range of movement 😉 ) easily and time to progress it.

See the thing is, the Push-Up ISN’T really a beginners exercise…

Plus, from everyone we’ve seen that’s claimed to be able to bang out a few push-ups, once we go through the proper technique and positioning with them, it’s a whole different story. Done right, push-ups are tough and they’re a damn good exercise that people bastardise 🙂

So a simple question to see where you are right now after reading Blog #1 is: If somethings too hard? – make it easier for now. Somethings too easy? – progress it to the next level. In this case, it’s Push-Ups.

So let’s first dive into the way we structure regressions & progressions at Doc Fitness.

MANY WAYS TO SKIN A CAT

There’s many ways to skin a cat, so this isn’t going to be the definitive Worlds best guide but rather, some simple regressions we like to use with clients that get results,

So below are some of our favourite regressions & progressions, followed by our reasons why..

REGRESSIONS:

  • Plank/High Plank
  • High Bar Push-ups
  • Eccentric Push-Ups

 After you reach this stage, you’re on the Push-Up.

  • Push-Up

Once you’ve advanced passed the regular push-ups, and let’s say you can bang out sets of 10-15 with ease. And what I mean by that is, full control & full range of movement throughout every rep,

PROGRESSIONS

  • Weighted Push-Ups
  • Feet Elevated/Weighted Push-Ups
  • Ring Push-ups 

So 3 basic Regressions & 3 Progressions..

SIDE NOTE: Why WE DON’T like Push-ups off the knees..

Off the knees encourages bad mechanics, which in English means – a terrible push-up.

It limits your ability to create ‘full body tension’ and keep the trunk neutral from your head down to your pelvis. Usually you’d see elbows flaring way out to the sides, head diving into the floor, arse stuck in the air and you’re doing nothing more than potentially injuring yourself rather than working on your upper body.

(Image Courtesy of nhs.uk)

Now, once you’ve a proper coach guiding you it’s fine so these can be fine starting off in the push-up, but remember these key points if you do try these:

  • From knee to shoulder is all one straight line (roughly) 
  • Have your Glutes squeezing hard together and core locked in
  • Same hand/arm positioning as Part 1 of this Blog Series

(Image courtesy of trainonline.com)

but usually, from what we see in public gyms and even people putting out YouTube videos, the technique is just CAT. If you’re Irish you’ll understand what ‘CAT’ means. (Another word for sh*t)

Instead we teach & coach Proper push-up mechanics, generating full body tension while ALWAYS reinforcing correct positioning of the shoulders, pelvis, trunk etc.

How? – The first easiest step we use is with an elevated bar.. 

Before this, you could (and may need too) go right back to a plank if needed but for this blog, we’ll skip straight to the Bar Stuff..

Regression 1: High Bar Incline Push-Ups

This teaches proper push-up mechanics just from an easier height..

As a side note, apologies in advance for these videos – they are old & quality isn’t the best, but they still have all the points I want to get across in here 😉

Once you start doing sets of 8-10 solid, controlled reps – it’s time to move on. Here you can lower the bar one notch WHEN READY, then just keep working until you’re rocking out full push-ups off the floor.

The only downside here is that you need to MAKE SURE you’re actually progressing (I.E: Getting lower on that bar height) because it’s easy to go to the gym and stick at the same bar without noticing it – just make sure, at least every two weeks you’re a bar height lower – or doing more reps than the previous 2 weeks at the same height. Once you hit the 10 rep range for multiple sets, say 3 rounds of 10 with proper technique and control, move on.

Regression 2: Eccentrics 

You can still do the inclines from Step 1 above here, but this time add in 5-6 second lowering eccentrics.

 You can be up to 20% stronger in the eccentric (lowering) portion of a lift and it also reinforces proper technique and more control – so these are great to add into your training mix, rather than ‘just’ trying to get lower on the bar heights from above. 

You can do 3-4 sets of anywhere from 5-10 eccentric reps or else do a few eccentrics to start then regular push-ups to finish off – there is no right or wrong. Or if you work on Push-Ups 2-3 Days a week for example, have one of those days working on Eccentrics.

The Regular Push-up

Once you’re at the floor then you need to nail your regular push-ups before moving on. Again once you hit sets of 10 Reps with solid positioning, you can move on if you wish or stay honing that technique and progression from the floor until you’re well into the 15 rep range 🙂

Tip on Mechanics: A mighty tip from Bret Contreras is to think that if you looked down on top of yourself doing a push-up it would look like an ‘arrow’ rather than a ‘T’.

 

 This is just a reminder on proper push-up mechanics – refer to Part 1 for the vid.

Progression 1: Weighted Push-Ups

Not rocket Science, here you add weight. Use a plate or weight vest if you have it. Having a Partner comes in handy too 🙂

 (Excuse the old school photo of where Doc Fitness first started, in the back of a tiny garage 😉 )

 The only thing to watch out for here is that the plate is comfortably positioned on your back – you don’t want it stuck between your shoulder blades on the way down or falling off the sides. Keep your abs braced and plate positioned mid-way on your back and you should be fine.

Progression 2: Elevate The Feet

To make it more challenging, elevate the feet. Again you can add weight here too.

 

PROGRESSION 3: Ring/TRX Push-Ups

As well as working on full body tension & stability, this exercise actually teaches you proper push-up technique, you simply cannot do a push-up with the elbows flaring out to the sides here.

NOTE: You can add weight here to further make it harder or elevate the feet.

ROUND-UP

So there you have it, some quick Regressions & Progressions we like to use that teach you proper full body tension & mechanics – these are only a select few that we like to use, but like any coach should, we adapt to the person and situation at hand to engrain the technique and make sure you’re progressing. 

Remember, push-ups are portrayed as a ‘foundations’ exercise out there that only beginners should do, which is utter bullsh*t. Push-Ups, when done right, are hard. But you start from where you are now and simple progress like we do below:

  • Plank or High Plank for Core Strength, Stability & Control
  • High Bar Push-ups
  • Eccentric Push-Ups
  • Push-Ups
  • Weighted Push-Ups
  • Elevated & Weighted Push-Ups
  • Ring Push-Ups

Only move on when ready and ALWAYS use proper Mechanics like we went through in Part 1. Because once you’ve done that, the options are endless as to what you can do with push-ups and the variations you can sub into your training – which we’ll cover in Part 3 and also some Push-Up Troubleshooting Issues too.

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David O' Connor
Educator, Coach & Owner of the Best Gym in the World - Doc Fitness
David is the owner of Doc Fitness and since I'm writing this I'll stop speaking in 3rd person now. Our Goal is simple, cut through the bullshit and add value to your life with our Content & move you forward with toning up & live a higher quality of life. When I'm not geeking out on anything Nutrition or Training related. I'm probably under the bar or eating Dark Chocolate.