The humble Press Up truly is a skill many don’t have.
It is one of the most butchered movements you’ll seem a great many people perform.
Truly a shame because this simple movement can offer a lot of benefits, not to mention the variations it has can help you build some decent mass and strength in your upper body.
Here is a list of common flaws in the form:
- No core bracing
- Underused lats for stability
- Collapsed shoulders
- Poor alignment (weak neckline especially)
- Hips sagging
- Excessive elbow flare
- Poor ROM
- A general look of someone having a fit on the floor
The list could go on, however, you get the idea.
Most people will be quick to jump up and down defending their form, or why they are doing it a certain way, often saying a super-wide arm press-up is a basic form and one where your elbows stay close is more advanced (military style, or as some say – tricep press up).
It’s understandable to feel attacked when your form is poor.
Especially on what many consider a beginners movement.
It’s ironic though, with the number of press-ups people do in classes or group training you’d think that eventually, they’d be able to actually perform them well.
Sadly we are left wanting.
What is the correct form?
To teach people this is the progress I personally tend to follow:
1 – PUPP – push up position plank hold
2 – High Incline Press Up (lowered over time)
2a – Suspension Kit if available
3 – Negatives
3a – Negatives with multiple pauses
4 – Full Push Up
There may be some other bits for individuals that need some extra help, however, this is the typical path.
You will notice none performed on the knees and the reason for that is because in my experience it doesn’t yield any real progress in a respectable time frame.
^^ This can also be used to learn a single arm push up.
Ture enough, we have plenty of press-up variations, however, if you can’t do these following arbitrary numbers (below) you’ve got no reason to any other variation until you master the basic one first.
When you’ve nailed down your form and the strict reps are climbing towards 30 for ladies and 50+ for the gents then exploring explosive variations or even extended ROM options become very useful.
You will find a lot of benefit in this movement.
Racking up volume becomes easy because it’s the kind of thing you could do daily, much like Pull Up variations and Pistols, add in some sprints/bounding/jump training and you’d build quite the impressive physique.
How often do you do Earth Downs and what are your thoughts on progressions/regressions and the overall level of the form you see?