Improving push ups is something that many people aim to do when joining the gym or embarking on a fitness journey. In fact, push ups can be one of the trickiest workouts to master. Our team of fitness instructors are ready to offer you any support you need to achieve your fitness goals. Mastering the push-up is easy when you say goodbye to these common technique issues.
ISSUE #1: The Rocker
We were often taught to do push-ups on our knees with their feet up in the air when we were younger. This has carried over into adulthood for some. It’s taught this way because the lower leg is thought to act as a counter-balance to the upper body (think of a see-saw!). This makes the push-up a little bit easier. But, there are two big reasons why you should lose this habit immediately.
- Firstly, the distribution of mass in our bodies is such that the mass of the lower leg is tiny compared to the mass of the upper body. Imagine an adult on a see-saw with a child – it’s not going anywhere! In exchange for the small gain of the counterbalance effect, you’re essentially grinding your knees into the floor. The rocking effect requires the knee joint to act as a fulcrum on the floor. The patella, or knee cap, is floating in front of the joint. So, as we rock on the knee, it gets mashed around. This can cause discomfort and possibly pain.
- Having your knees as the only two points of contact on the floor can make you unstable. If you’re working to try to get stronger in the push-up, this instability can take your focus away from the pushing motion, instead you are simply concentrating on not falling over. When this happens you’re no longer isolating the push muscles and it makes it that much harder to get stronger.
Here’s the solution: Improving push ups starts with placing your toes solidly on the floor. With your toes on the floor, your tibial tuberosity (the head of the bone in your lower leg) will make contact with the floor rather than the patella. The four points of contact (knees and toes) make your body more stable. Then, you can focus on isolating the arms and chest.
ISSUE #2: The T
Another way to improve your push ups is ensuring you have the best form. When most people think of a push-up position, they think of the capital letter T. This is when the arms are out wide and even with the shoulders.
In this position, the motion is outside of the line of action of the pectoral muscles. The anterior deltoid and muscles of the shoulder become the primary movers. Since the shoulder muscles are relatively weaker when compared to the pectorals, the force generated is less. So if you choose to do push-ups in the T position, you may struggle to do push-ups on your toes, or simply tire sooner.
Instead of thinking of a T, it’s a good idea to replicate a position that’s closer to an arrow shape.
When your arms are in this position the hands are in line with the center of the chest and the motion is within the line of action of the pectorals. This allows the bigger chest muscles to take over and the shoulder muscles are used for stabilization. When the larger chest muscles are recruited, it is easier to do the push-up on your toes and it takes longer to fatigue.
ISSUE #3: The Eccentric
If you’re still struggling to do push-ups on your toes, give this one last thing a try. Start in a plank position with your knees off the floor and lower yourself down into the push-up. Drop your knees to the floor and push yourself back up until your arms are extended. Lift your knees and repeat.
Why does this work? It takes advantage of a well-known training principle: your muscles are stronger while they are extending (eccentric) than they are while they’re contracting (concentric). Training the eccentric phase of a movement is called “negative” training. It is used to build strength once you’ve hit a plateau using traditional techniques. If you follow this approach, over time you will get stronger and develop confidence in your ability to do the push-up. After a while, you’ll be able to mix in a few full on-the-toe push-ups.
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Moving your fitness journey forward
Your goals are our goals here at Altered Images gym – whether it is improving push ups, meeting running goals, or gaining muscular strength. Our personal trainers and fitness instructors really do go the extra mile to help you hit your targets. You’ll find all of the right equipment at our gym in Bromsgrove. We cater to all abilities, ages, fitness levels, and experience. Most importantly, our fitness support is expertly tailored around your goals and fitness levels.
Our team of helpful personal trainers will ensure that you are using the right techniques during your training sessions. They are also on hand to offer advice on workouts – including ways to improve press ups. If you would like to know more about our facilities and personal training sessions please don’t hesitate to visit our website or give us a call on 01527 874395.