Updated: Aug 20, 2021
Push-ups are a common first goal for many, and can be extremely satisfying to see and feel your strength progress over time. It’s an incredible movement to achieve, impressive to watch, but also an essential foundation for functioning in everyday life. Learning to push in different planes of motion, and with different hand positions, will also help strengthen your shoulders and safeguard your body. Increasing strength through pushing your own bodyweight will benefit those more advanced goals later down the line, including ring dips and handstand push-ups.
While performing all the following variations of a push-up, make sure you keep a hollow body. Start by setting yourself up in a strong plank position. Initiate the movement by letting the shoulders sit a little ahead of the wrists, then start to lower. This setup will help prevent unnecessary loading of the elbows while avoiding incorrect positioning of the shoulder.
The shoulder is the most unstable joint in the human body. If you’ve been having shoulder and/or elbow pain, it might be worth reassessing how you’re moving. Awareness is essential to keep healthy and controlled body during these movements.
When practising the following progressions and regressions, remember to mix up different hand positions, don’t become complacent with one particular set up. Variation is key!
The negative push-up is a great place to start. It’ll allow you to see if, and where, you may be lacking control throughout the full movement.
Begin in your plank position. Start to bend the elbows and slowly lower the chest towards the floor for about 3-5 seconds, keeping control as you descend. If you can’t perform a full push up, use your knees, while keeping a hollow body, to push back up to the starting position.