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Blog The ImPECcable Push-Up Guide | Part 3



The ImPECcable Push-Up Guide | Part 3

  • by David O' Connor
  • August 25, 2016

If you’ve landed here without going through Part 1 on Push-Ups ‘How-To’s & Don’t’s’ or Part 2 on some simple Push-Up ‘Regressions & Progressions’, you’re probably better off doing that first.

For the third and final part of this push-up series I want to leave you with some Mobility & Movement Hacks to make sure you’re keeping your shoulders healthy for the long-term & getting the most from your pushing/pressing movements. 

So hopefully by the end of this you should have the knowledge to go and do:

  • A proper Push-Up
  • How to regress it according to your fitness level right now OR progress it
  • If you’re breaking down in technique you can refer to Part 1/2 or start adding in the drills which you’ll learn in this blog

No More Chicken Wings

When you’ve under-active muscles, others can ‘take up the slack’ which usually leads to some sort of pain or injury down the line – and with the 100’s of people we’ve coached, often we might come across some ‘scapular’ issues with the push-up.


In this chicken wing case, it’s ‘usually’ (not always, there could be way more at play) leading from a weak Serratus Anterior which can lead to the shoulder blades staying constantly Retracted throughout the entire push-up,

Besides the fact you feel as if you physically cannot get into the push-up, you don’t want this happening regardless, because over time it’s a recipe for an injury.

So the next time you’re doing push-ups, and your elbows keep flaring way out to the sides, no matter how many times you’ve read these blogs – maybe it’s time to start engaging your serratus anterior a bit more 😉


The Serratus Anterior basically keeps your shoulder blades (scapula) pressed against your rib cage while your arm moves weight – I.E: Bench Pressing Dumbbells.

It’s a key player in guiding your shoulder blades safely around your chest & stabilising your shoulder – especially for exercises overhead or throwing for example. So think of it as a player for optimal shoulder health and movement.

(Image courtesy of ehealthstar.com)

(Image courtesy of barmethod.com)

So unlike a Bench Press, where your scapula stay fixed, in the push-up they’re allowed to move through their FULL range of motion which is mighty for shoulder health and here we can work directly on the serratus anterior muscles too.

Enter ‘Scap’ Push-Ups

These will:

  • Strengthen the Serratus anterior,
  • Teach you how to get your shoulder moving correctly through protraction & retraction (not staying always in retraction like above)
  • Help eliminate the winging problem and
  • Provide a great warm-up for any session.

We use these as a staple in our warm-ups here at Doc Fitness, not only to teach shoulder positioning, but to keep the shoulders healthy & get activated for the session ahead.

The same points apply here as a regular push-up:

  • No elbow Flaring 
  • No Hip Sagging etc.
  • (Try this from your Knees if you’re still breaking down with core control)

So try trowing this simple movement into your warm-ups & keep those shoulder healthy;

Just remember to fully ‘push-through’ at the top to make sure you FULLY activate the serratus anterior, a lot of people forget this simple point. NO bend in the elbows and FULLY lock out at the top to get the full benefits – finish the FULL REP!


Warming up & Activating the right Muscles before your workouts plays a big role in how well that workout will go – just think about it, you wouldn’t hop into a Diesel Car, start it straight away and pop it straight into 5th Gear? Well I hope you wouldn’t anyways but the same applies here, take the time to address your Mobility work. 

So here’s a simple structure for an Upper Body Focused Warm-Up – Especially if you’re doing ‘pushing work”

  1. Mobility Work (Foam Rolling, Lacrosse Ball work) 4-5Mins
  2. Movement/Activation (Scap Push-Ups & Bear Crawls) 3-4 Mins
  3. More Activation (Band Drills & emphasising your push-up ‘technique’) 2Mins

And here’s what that actually looks like then:

Foam Rolling T-Spine ~ Mobility Work Example #1

Foam Rolling Your Lats ~ Mobility Work Example #2

Scap Pushs ~ As above ~ Movement/Activation Drill #1

Bear Crawls ~ Movement/Activation Drill #2

Band Pull-Aparts ~ More Activation 

Emphasising Push-Up Technique (Always neglected as gone through in Blog Part 1 of this Series)

If you’re off the Bar, always remember to emphasise initially ‘snapping the bar like a twig’ to ensure the correct elbow path and activation of the right movers.

Likewise, if you’re off the floor, emphasise the cork-screw effect of screwing your hands into the floor creating that tension – which again, should give you the proper technique.


So hopefully this Blog Series will give you something to help hone your technique and get more from your Training.

Obviosuly, there’s only so much you can do by looking at pictures and videos – so if you have a good strength coach nearby, it’s a no brainer to get onto them for progressing forward in your training and ultimately, your results.

Again your Main takeaways should be:

Likewise, if you’ve any friends that you know need to read this to fix their technique (we have all have them haha 😉 ), just send them the link to Blog 1 or tag them in the comments below – the more people that see this the better.

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David O' Connor
CEO | Head Coach
David's passion lies in coaching you through the easiest path to losing weight, toning up & getting back the confidence that's been hiding for a while. Head Coach & Head of Nutrition at Doc Fitness, if you don't find him there, he's probably training, sipping coffee writing Nutrition articles or playing Hurling for Ballinderreen.