Push ups or push ups

Push-ups are a fundamental bodyweight exercise in CrossFit that carry over to other more complex movements such as burpees or the dip in muscle ups.

Its correct performance requires a significant amount of upper body and core strength, otherwise it is easy to do repetitions that are not efficient in improving technique and strength.

If you want to learn the correct progression to help you achieve push-up control, read on.

What is a push up or flexion?

It is a gymnastic exercise in which the athlete starts in a plank position, hands and feet on the floor with the core active to maintain a firm posture. The athlete flexes the arms so that only the chest touches the floor. Ideally no part of the body below the waist should come in contact with the floor.

From here the athlete pushes upwards until the elbow lock is achieved to regain the initial position.   

push ups or push ups

Types of push ups

There are many versions of this exercise, some of the most outstanding:

Push up hand release

In this case, the athlete is obliged to completely take his hands off the ground when he has descended before making the push.

types of bending
Hand release push up

Weighted push up

Adding ballast to the exercise. It is typical in workouts such as the Murph.

push up with ballast
Push up with vest

Push ups with deficit

Forcing you to work through a greater range of motion, the hands are placed on a higher surface than where the chest should contact.

deficit push up
Push up with deficit

Plyometric push up

The athlete must not only push not only the upper body but the whole body, making the hands come off the ground.

plyometric push up

Muscles worked

All functional movements do not work a single muscle in isolation, in this case the major muscles involved are the pectoralis, triceps and deltoids. 

The core is also involved to maintain good posture.

Benefits of push-ups

Strength training provides aesthetic and health benefits. Specifically, push-ups help to:

  • Increase upper body strength.
  • Build a solid foundation for more skill-demanding exercises such as muscle ups.

Progressions for push ups

We often resort to the kneeling position thinking that it is the best option to progress in push ups, instead there are better alternatives that will help you build a solid foundation to master push ups sooner and with better technique.

Higher surface

If you're struggling to do 10 reps of push-ups on your knees, start by doing push ups with your hands on a surface higher than your feet. It will help you reduce the distance you have to travel while building strength.

bench presses

Knee bends

When you can accumulate at least 10 reps on your knees, it's time to work on the floor. It is still a help, since the range of motion is less and we are not moving the entire body weight.

knee bends

Always remember to maintain an activated core to keep in shape.

Negative downturn 

Although it may seem like a boring job, it is underrated, as it turns out to be the most effective way to achieve push-ups with good technique.

When you have the feeling that you are stuck in knee bends and that you are not progressing to do them on your toes, this is the key to keep progressing.

negative push up
Negative push up

Start the push-up on your knees and switch to your toes when you are on top. Make your way down keeping your posture and without rushing on your toes, when you get to the floor bring your knees back to push yourself back up. 

Push-up technique

Core in operation

Undoubtedly, this is one of the first elements that tends to fail when strength begins to falter, especially in workouts with a high volume of repetitions.

When the core cannot maintain the posture, the athlete stops having the core activated and starts arching the back. And as a result the range of motion of the push-up is reduced, so it may be an advantage to add some extra reps but at the same time it means that it won't help you to improve your push-up technique.

In general, it is important to have an active core for all the exercises we perform in CrossFit, from hand walking to carrying heavy weights overhead. If we do not have a core that can withstand the demands of these exercises, we will be less efficient and therefore less able to accumulate repetitions without putting ourselves at risk. 

Elbow position

Depending on the opening of the hands and consequently of the elbows, we can put more emphasis on pectoral or triceps work. 

In CrossFit we seek to be able to do as many repetitions as we can, that is why the most efficient way is to involve as many muscles as possible to delay muscle fatigue. The ideal position of the elbows in this case is at 45º. 

elbows bending position

In addition, this position is the one that provides the greatest benefit when it comes to transferring force to other gymnastic pushing elements, in weightlifting or even with medial ball throws.