The push up is in the news. A recent study has tied push up performance to longevity. According to this report, a trainee who can perform 40 push ups will live longer than his neighbor with less than 40.
This is not the first time that an attempt has been made to link a singular performance metric to improving odds of living longer. Within the last decade, hand grip strength and higher VO2max (aerobic capacity) have also been tied to longevity.
I am more than hesitant to buy into the conclusion. I do not believe it prudent to wager your mortality to one singular performance metric. Longevity is a complex issue with multiple variables.
Regardless of the conclusion, push-ups are highly underrated. Sadly, they are in general poorly executed. Performing 50 quality push ups is more rare than a 300 pound supine press.
Here are a few push up flaws I observe every week.
- Sagging hips as the press up occurs from the floor. A loss of midline stability
- Piking of the hips. The hips do not stay in line with the shoulder and knees. Another variation on poor midline connection
- Bowing of the neck as the eyes gaze forward. Who stares at the sky when walking down a sidewalk?
- Up Dogging or Yogaing the push up. This is the push-up version of kipping. I sometimes allow this for an extremely weak trainee in the early stages of training but it is still incorrect.
- Shorting or not finishing with full extension of the elbow or not reaching the chest to the deck. This is the MOST offensive breach of standard. I view it as a clear attempt to 'get ahead' in a workout that has a time or task objective. Blasphemy !
Quick coaching points
-Assume the prone position. Nose down
-Hands slightly outside shoulder width. Fingers spread and gripping the deck.
-Toes into the deck
-Tighten the glutes and quads to create tension.
-Humerus at 45 degrees. Not pinned to the side nor projecting out 90 degrees to the side. From a superior view, the head and humerus should form an arrow with the head as the point.
-Now press away from the deck.
All of my trainees now perform the NEW standard push up. The chest touching the deck at the bottom as the hands release. The new military PT has also adopted this standard.
-chest to the deck
-hands release from the deck or slide out to the sides
-elbow fully extended at the top
Issues as stated above can still occur, but starting here eliminates any confusion on what is to be expected when a workout includes push-ups.
Once competency with the NEW standard has been established, push-ups can be performed daily. There are a number of ways to progress and vary the training stimulus. Here are a few thoughts:
-Hand width and/or staggered
-Alligator Push ups. Hand walking with push ups after strapping the feet to a PowerWheel or placing them in glute-ham kart. Requires advanced midline strength.
-On dumbbell handles
-Torso loaded (weight vest or weighted pack)
-Clapping push ups