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Push Ups: The Power Of Variation

Push Ups: The Power Of Variation

I guess on one hand I could say that I’m always fairly surprised at how poorly so many people struggle do push ups, but then again with the cushy society we live in I can understand why so many people struggle to perform one of the most basic exercises that are available to us in our arsenal of strength. Push ups are one of the most powerful tools available for each and everyone of us, yet many folks are incapable of executing this standard drill…while others are cranking them out like a factory producing sliced bread.

The Push Up

One of the key things I look at in a trainee is how well, or how poorly that individual can perform a push up. This single exercise is a valuable resource and will clearly point out to me a great number of details concerning a trainee. The push up will instantly show me whether an individual is capable of stabilizing his or her body in a satisfactory manner at the neck, shoulders, and lumbar spine.

Just by asking an individual to statically hold themselves in an upright push up position I can determine whether or not that individual is able to produce sufficient tension and rigidity throughout their body from their shoulders to their heels. Their body should resemble a bridge, or table in terms of how well they stabilize themselves before they even lower their body to the ground.

Convict Conditioning
To clear the air on this I want to point to the following video I created to point out some technical flaws that people tend to fall victim in the beginning stages of learning the push up before they transform themselves into a push up factory. Check it out here.

So you can see here several of the problem areas that people fall victim to when trying to perform push ups in the beginning. However once an individual has mastered this rigidity and can perform push ups with a  solid level of technique then what? Keep on reading my friend.

The Power Of Variance

The standard push up is very powerful, but the key to transforming your body and pushing yourself to acquire serious results is by first mastering the standard push up and then moving on to crush other more advanced variations so that you can truly take your training to the next level.

The thing to remember though is that regardless of what advanced variations you include with your push ups the foundation of maintaining rigidity in the correct places is still the priority. As an example you can go out and purchase some glide discs and perform these glide disc push up variations on a turf, or carpeted floor to challenge yourself in an entirely different way.

As you can see here these glide push ups offer an entirely different challenge. You’ll notice on my grounded hand I’m basically performing a single arm push up while the hand on the glide disc is having to stabilize the shoulder while moving to flexion and in turn initiating a pulling movement as I bring the disc back to position during the upward phase of the push up.

Convict Conditioning, Volume 1: The Prison Pushup Series
To start out perform 3 sets of 5 of these on each side at the end of one of your upper body days and you will quickly see just how challenging these can be!

In addition to glide push ups if I want to compound my efforts by incorporating some additional internal rotational movement then I can add a dumbbell or kettlebell to the drill to perform some push up drags. Check these out.

Once again it doesn’t take much to significantly intensify the standard push up, but the standard push up must be mastered before moving on to such craziness! If you study the video here you’ll notice that I’m also being very strict about keeping my body rigid and not allowing my hips to turn out every time I pull the dumbbell across my body.

To start out try performing 3 sets of 5 or 6 of these on each side and make sure you are pulling the weight with the hand that is on the same side (not pulling the weight across the body with the opposite hand).

So you’re probably wondering Coach what if I don’t have any additional equipment and just want to intensify my push ups using nothing at all except my own body’s resistance? Well, you can always crank out some rotational push ups.

These are great for shoulder abduction and for tremendous stability. Because I’m constantly rotating on each side I’m having to distribute my bodyweight differently every time which in turn creates a significantly different challenge compared to the standard push up.

Start out with performing 3 sets of 5 or 6 rotations of these on each side.

Another killer push up complex you can lean on for a good challenge is by performing my 5 hand position push up complex. To make these happen you start out with a close hand position (roughly thumbs distance), then go to a standard push up hand width, then a wide hand width, then a staggered hand position on one side, and finally the staggered hand position on the other side.

As you can see after performing each hand position you’ve essentially performed 5 different push ups, but these 5 only account for a single repetition here my friend. Start out performing 3 sets of 3 of these and work up to doing 5 reps per set once you’ve mastered the drill.

The bottom line is that the power of variation is virtually endless. I mean I’ve pointed out some real solid variations here for you to start learning, but the reality is that you can keep progressing and moving way beyond what is contained here in this article.

I hope you enjoyed today’s post and if so then please don’t be shy about posting up in the comments below. Also don’t forget that there is only a few more days left for you to order a brand new BRF Hoodie featuring the killer credo Strength Is About…Not Adopting A Victim Mindset.

You can order by clicking here or below!

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The Ultimate Progression For Your Push Ups

3 Powerful Push Up Variations For Building Muscle

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I'm a Certified Strength And Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and author. I have had over 17 years experience in MMA fitness, strength and conditoning, and athletic performance for most every sport. As an author and specialist I've written close to a million words on fitness and strength. I'm also a Muay Thai practictioner and enjoy helping others to reach their peak potential through fitness and performance.

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