The Perfect Push-Up?

In the year 2015 we know a few things:

  • Pluto is almost a real planet again
  • The Weeknd is Michael Jackson 2.0
  • We could all use more push-ups

Wait, what?

Being a realist, I know it takes a special brand of crazy to LOVE push-ups the way I do. And I'm constantly trying to tinker and perfect exercise variations that give the most return on investment.  I've recently fallen in love with this push-up variation that I stole from Eric Cressey.  See here:

Far too often push-ups end up looking like the "ass-out, awkward, first-cousin hug." (my term, in case you were wondering)  This variation makes each push-up more intense and much harder to cheat - a good thing in my book.

How is it superior to a normal push-up?  By resetting after every rep and putting our butts in the air we add a lot more benefits.  First, it gives us a big stretch through our superficial back line - a line of fascia that runs from the bottom of our foot, up our backs, all the way to top of our heads.  It's something that can get "kinked up" by sitting all day causing back pain, calf tightness, "tight" hamstrings, etc.  Getting some type of stretch back there is a good thing for most people.

 The Ass-Out Hug.  Don't let your push-ups mirror any part of it!

The Ass-Out Hug.  Don't let your push-ups mirror any part of it!

Second, the reset benefits our shoulders which are unfairly demonized by anyone who's ever had "shoulder pain."  Most shoulder issues are caused by improper movement or stabilization of our shoulder blades (scapulas), causing impingement when bony surfaces start rubbing together.  This impingement is usually a byproduct of a lack of upward rotation - or tilting back of our shoulder blades - when we bring our arms over our head.  By doing the "yoga push-up" in between each rep, we help our bodies gain back this upward rotation leading to healthier shoulders. 

I've also seen it make a big difference for people that lack the ability to get their arms completely overhead.  And since most Bostonians only put their arms over their head when the Red Sox win, this year they need as much help as they can get.

After the reset, we get in correct the starting position by A) getting as long as we can, B) squeezing our glutes, and C) pushing the floor away.  By combining the first two, we're able to create a posterior tilt on our pelvis - which is more than looking like a sad dog. It helps us control our pelvis and get out of the extension posture that can cause or contribute to back pain.  By pushing the floor away, it ensures we also get out of extension in our upper body by having those shoulder blades find the correct position on our back.  And label me a "shoulder geek" but we also get a bit more serratus anterior when we attempt to push the floor away - a key muscle for upward rotation of the shoulder blades and overall shoulder health.

From there, do your best Chuck Norris impression and push the earth down.  Just make sure to reset after each one. :)