• How do I Progress My Athletes Through the Push-Up Exercise
    Push-ups provide a great foundation for strength and can be performed in several different ways. From the NSCA's Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.
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  • PushupsSynopsis
    The push-up dates back to grammar school where boys often touted their brute strength with the amount of push-ups they could complete. The regular push-up requires no equipment and is still used by elite-level athletes to develop upper-body strength. Advances in scientific research have caused the push-up to adopt different variations, allowing for proper progression and adaptation. A recent study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research examined the different ground reaction forces (GRFs) involved with six different variations of the push-up:
    • Feet elevated on a 24-in. (60.96-cm) box 
    • Feet elevated on a 12-in. (30.48-cm) 
    • Regular (hands and feet on the ground) 
    • Hands elevated on a 24-in. (60.96-cm) box 
    • Hands elevated on a 12-in. (30.48-cm) box 
    • Knees flexed (hands on the ground) 
    The study included 23 recreational athletes tested in a randomized, repeated measures design. The researchers examined GRFs as absolute values and as coefficients related to bodyweight. Results showed that each condition had a significant effect on GRFs. 
    Both push-up variations with the feet elevated resulted in significantly higher GRF production than any other variation; the variation with the knees flexed elicited the lowest absolute GRF.  
    Expressed as a percentage of bodyweight (BW), GRFs ranged from 41% BW (hands elevated 24 in.) to 74% BW (feet elevated 24 in.). This demonstrated the breadth of difficulty with respect to push-up variations. The figure below illustrates the different GRFs (as a percentage of BW) and the proposed difficulty of push-ups.

    Coaches and personal trainers deal with varying levels of athletic ability, strength, endurance, etc. This study gives coaches and personal trainers a template for progressing their athletes and clients appropriately. The history of the push-up and the goal to master it can misconstrue its intention. The main objective should be to find the right tool for the right athlete. For example, an athlete that cannot adequately perform a set of regular push-ups on the ground should not continue to try and conquer this movement. An adequate coaching alternative would be to place the athlete’s hands on a 24-in. box and reevaluate the movement.

    The push-up might be considered too simplistic among all of the current training modalities, but the right progressions can make all the difference in gaining more upper-body strength.
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      How about different hand position (normal hand position vs. hands externally rotated vs. hands internally rotated combined with hand or feet elevated? How about the devises where you can rotate the hands as you go through the push-up exercise? Have heardmore» of many shoulder injuries with the rotating devises.
      Seems hands should be stationary no matter where the position of the hands are. Just asking!!«less

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