A Push-Up is one of those coveted exercises that, if you’re not able to do one, is usually a milestone goal. It’s one of the ultimate bodyweight moves since it not only strengthens your pushing muscles (chest, triceps, front of shoulders) but, when done properly, is really a total body workout.
You may have been taught language like “real push-up” and “women’s push-up”…let’s use “on-the-knee-push-ups” instead of the former, since both men and women can rock “real” (on-the-toe) ones. Cool? 🙂
Anyway, the reason we tend to go to our knees to make a push-up easier is because it shortens the lever, or distance between the two points of contact (in this case, the hands and knees). Unfortunately, this takes the core out of play and, since one of the main purposes of a push-up is to strengthen the core and stabilize the spine, we want to be sure to train with the core involved as you’re learning.
While we may have members perform push-ups on their knees in a large group setting where other options aren’t accessible, a better alternative to gaining that core and upper body strength is a HANDS-ELEVATED PUSH-UP.
By elevating your hands, you’re able to take some of the load off of the upper body and shorten the lever in a much more functional way while still keeping the core engaged. It’s actually the position you’d push something in real life, if needed.
We most commonly use barbells to choose hand-height levels at the gym, but these could be done anywhere – we like to recommend throwing in some push-up every day after you brush your teeth or to attach it to any other habit you already have!
Start with your hands on a counter-top level and once you’ve mastered 10 or so push-ups here –> move them down to a seat-level –> then a step or low bench –> then…the floor!
Progressing push-ups in this manner is a great way to safely gain strength and train the correct patterns of a pushing motion. And, if you’d like some further help with correct form, be sure to check out our 3 Common Push-Up Mistakes and How To Fix Them.
To everyday strength!
Jess + Team Valeo