Monday, October 4, 2010

A Journey of Strength: Mastering the Push Up

It amazes me how many athletes walk through my doors and are not able to do a basic Push Up with the correct movement pattern. I have been here for a year and have seen only two athletes reach 30 reps on our push up test. Last spring I had two offensive lineman come through who could not perform more than 5 Push Ups BETWEEN them. Their job as an offensive lineman is to block, push, and move their opponent's body. How can you ask these athletes to push their opponent's body-weight around when they can not push and control their own weight!

We need to ask our selves are we progressing or regressing our athletes?

I ask this questions because so many strength programs involve around the "Big Three": Back Squat, BENCH PRESS, and Power Clean and they intend to neglect the efficiency of the movement patterns. My philosophy and progressions has always been to "master your body-weight before adding external resistance."

The inability to perform a Push Up with correct form could be a sign of structural weakness or movement dysfunction. Because of the influence of faulty mechanics have on performance and the prevalence of overuse injuries in sport and sport-specific training, athletes who have a faulty Push Up pattern should go through a proper program that progresses the athlete to perform a correct push up pattern.

Athletic Republic's Criteria for the Push Up:

  • Head centered and held stable
  • Shoulders held back and down away from ears
  • Elbows tucked to the side
  • Thoracic spine neutral - with fluid and controlled scapulae movement
  • Lumbar spine in neutral
  • Hips aligned with the ankles, knees, and shoulders
  • Knees aligned wit the ankles and hips
  • Feet/Ankles aligned with knees
  • MUST touch the baseball with the chest.

Athletic Republic's Push Up Progression Level 1:

Push Up Progression Level 1 goal is to get our athletes doing a basic Push Up with the correct movement pattern. All athletes will go through Level 1 Progression, but not every athlete will follow the same progression.

Beginner Standard: Any athlete that does 0-10 reps on test day will start at Step 1.

Intermediate Athlete: Any athlete that does 11-19 reps on test day will start at Step 3.

Advance Athlete: Any athlete that does 20- 30 reps on test day will start at Step 5.

Elite Athletes: Any athlete that does 31 or more reps on test day will start at Step 6 and use the Elite Athlete progression.

Push Up Progression Level 1: (click to view)

  1. Wall Push Up
  2. Incline Push Up
  3. Kneeling Push Up
  4. 1/2 Push Up
  5. Classic Push Up

Rep Progression is as follows for each drill:

Week 1 3x10
Week 2 3x20
Week 3 3x30

If an athlete has done 31 or more reps on test day they are considered Elite and should follow the Elite Athlete Progression:

Week 1 3x30
Week 2 3x40
Week 3 3x50

Learn to master your body before you master an external object/resistance. Once you have mastered the Push Up come talk to me about Level 2 Push Up Progression and how to advance to doing a One Arm Push Up.

Your Coach,