Reconsidering the Push-up…

Posted: December 1, 2010 in Posts

The more I read, the less I know.

Or at least the more I find out that things are different than I previously thought. I previously maligned the military’s dependence on the Push-up as a shoulder risk in the same vein as over training the Bench Press. It turns out it may be a better exercise than I thought. Looking into shoulder rehab and injury prevention I stumbled across two articles and slew of forum posts on the subject.

T-Nation and RTS (You can do your own forum lurking)

The Push-Up: Solid core exercise, decent chest and upper body strength developer and balanced shoulder developer. I’m giving it a second chance as a part of my training.

The problem with using high volume Bench Press as a primary chest exercise seems to be mainly three things. First is the pressure from the combined weight of the torso and bar trapping the scapulae in between the ribcage and the bench. This creates numerous chances for impingement. Second, the support of the bench limits involvement from many of the unknown muscles that assist in shoulder movement and stabilization. Third, there’s a great tendency to flare the elbows at the bottom of the movement, which can cause further imbalance and potential for injury.

The Push-up, in contrast, allows the shoulders to work freely, activates all of the muscles involved in stabilization of the joint and if performed properly is dammed hard. Properly means body board straight, up on your toes and chest-to-the-ground-hands-in-your-armpits range of motion.

This is how not to do them:

He’s bent at the middle, elbows are flared and his upper arms don’t break parallel.

Here’s how you do it:

I’ll be adding Push-ups in three ways. The suspended Push ups I already do for a warm up will remain and more sets will be added. For the next six weeks overhead pressing will be my primary upper body exercise, weighted push ups will be added as an assistance exercise. I’ll start with 25 pounds of additional weight and work up from there. Finally, a few sets of ten regular Push-ups will be thrown in with some pull ups for a “greasing the groove” mini session during the day.

When I’ve hit My two current strength goals, a 135 Overhead Press and a 405 Deadlift I’ll start throwing in some Bench Press and see if my poundage has gone up.

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