How’s Your Push Up?
If you have read my blog posts in the past you’ll notice that a topic that I like to touch on fairly frequently is movement quality (and coffee!). I write about it because I think it is extremely important when it comes to movement. Quality should always come before quantity. As CrossFitters we love our high intensity workouts. For some of us, its hitting our absolute physical limit, feeling like we gave it our all, and for some extreme intensity junkies, its lying in a heap on the floor after the workout. One thing I think we can all agree on, is that we just love attacking a workout and just getting our sweat on, I mean its even in the name of our gym! While we always want all of you Sweat Shoppers to feel like you had a great workout at the end of every class, we also want your movement quality during class to be top notch! A big reason that a lot of us have chosen to do CrossFit is that it utilizes functional movements. Functional movements are movement patterns that closely mimic movements we perform in everyday life.
One of these functional movements is the Push, and the one we will specifically be talking about today is the Push Up. The Push Up, when executed properly, is a great exercise for demonstrating functional pushing capacity in the upper extremities. So naturally, it fits itself well into the CrossFit criteria of utilizing functional movement patterns.
As stated before, executing your workouts at a high intensity can be very beneficial, its why a lot of us do CrossFit. But one of our downfalls as CrossFitters (and I am guilty of this at times too) is that we get so wrapped up in focusing on the intensity aspect of our workouts, that it starts to compromise our movement integrity. Unfortunately one of the movements we tend to misexecute is the push up, and with it being in this Saturday’s workout I figured this would be a great time to talk about some common faults in the push up.
I will not dive too much into the proper execution of the push up, but if you would like a more thorough explanation check this video out. I want to focus a little more on the common faults because most of us know how to execute the proper push up, but not all of us recognize the common faults.
The first I will talk about really is what sets the foundation for the push up, and that is hand placement. Ideally should place our hands at shoulder width, or just outside shoulder width if you have a bit longer arms, when performing a push up. Any wider or more narrow and the pressing mechanics cannot be utilized optimally. Just hold your arms extended straight out in front of you, then drop them to the floor, and you will have proper hand placement.
The second fault is the one I see the most often in CrossFit workouts, and its the chest leaving the ground before the hips, aka doing the worm push up
. When executing the push up you want your shoulders, hips, and knees to stay in alignment throughout the entire movement. You’ll hear us talking about squeezing your midline and your glutes as this will help you to keep everything in alignment. If your chest is rising before your hips, you are losing midline stability and compromising movement quality. If this happens because you are fatigued, take a break to let your muscles recover a bit, and then get back after it. If this happens after doing a couple of reps or you cannot maintain midline tightness on a regular push up, then we need to find an appropriate modification so you can properly build your pushing capacity.
The last fault I will talk about is progressing too quickly to advanced pushing variations. I talk about this every time I coach a workout with pushing variations in it, because I see it happen frequently. People try to advance too quick to pushing variations like ring dips, ring push ups, or even handstand push-ups, despite not being able to do a proper set of regular push ups. If you cannot execute standard push ups properly, then you should not be attempting advanced variations. Unfortunately people are drawn to these variations as it convinces people that they have progressed up the movement latter. People can be misguided with these advanced variations as they may be able to perform them, but not without faults in their movement. Something I always tell people is to get great at the basics before advancing up to the more challenging progressions. If you can safely say that executing quality push ups is no problem for you, then go ahead and progress up to these more challenging variations. We want to push your physical abilities but not at the cost of proper movement. If you are someone who struggles with executing push ups in a workout, then stick with those for a while and build up capacity in that movement. It will better serve you when you are ready to progress to the more advanced variations.
Alright, that was a lot to take in. I don’t want anyone to think I am attacking them personally, we could all use little reminders like these! I know I am guilty of getting a little too wrapped up in the allure of intensity and sometimes it’s good to be reminded to always check movement quality before we add in quantity. At the end of the day we should always feel good about our movement quality. Now I am not saying that you need to rest 10 seconds between every push up, I still want everyone to get their desired intensity levels! What I am advocating is try to find a good balance of quality of movement and intensity. Try to meet in the middle with those two things and you’ll find that you will be moving better, but still feeling like you got a great workout in! If you ever need help with anything regarding technique or have questions about movements in a workout, please ask one of the coaches. We always want to help you guys perform at your highest level.