Modifications 101: Push-Up
Push-ups fall in the category of "love" or "loathe" for many of my clients. The exercise itself is an effective combination of core control and horizontal pressing and has plenty of variations to drive progress.
Let's look at how to take your push-up from the basics to advanced variations will all of the challenge you need.
The most frustrating part about starting with push-ups is a struggle to maintain body position. Once you start looking like a contortionist, your efficiency plummets, and your ability to complete the movement comes to a screeching halt.
The best modifications you can make are modifications that allow you to maintain body position throughout the movement. Hardwire this good habit early in the process and you will be in a great position throughout your fitness journey.
In the training notes I leave for clients, I always leave a remark about executing this movement from your knees or an elevated surface. By changing the size of your body or the angle of the movement, this decreases the resistance you feel and allows you to practice your body positioning.
I would rather see a client complete a modified full range of motion push-up instead of a partial range, unmodified push-up.
Do you experience wrist pain during push-ups?
If your hands are flat on the ground during a push-up, it can cause a sharp wrist angle that can cause discomfort to surface. A simple modification is to grip dumbbell handles, kettlebell handles, or foam yoga blocks instead of resting your hands flat on the ground. This simple change will change your wrist angle and alleviate some (if not all) of the discomfort you are experiencing.
Once you get the hang of things and are ready to progress, use a band as an assistant while completing a full range push-up from your feet. Start with a band that supplies a large amount of assistance and then, gradually, work your way down to a thin band and minimal assistance.
As you make progress with this variation, focus on your body position. Avoid arching your low back or sitting your hips up high.
Once you are able to complete 10 or more unmodified push-ups, you are ready for some advanced options. This is where you get to have fun and get more creative with the fitness training experience. The biggest key is that you continue to focus on your body position and avoid shrugging your shoulders up towards your ears.
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