Squat, Hip Hine, Push & Pull
Today we’ll be reviewing the push movement. Common exercises include the push up, bench press and dip. The primary muscles in use are the pectoralis (chest), triceps (back of the arm) and the anterior deltoids (front of the shoulder). Like the previous two movements in the series, pushing doesn’t seem too complicated taken at face value. However, there are a few things to keep in mind when doing push exercises to keep your shoulders healthy.
Your shoulder is an incredibly mobile joint that offers vast freedom of movement compared to your other joints. This freedom of movement comes at a price though. The broad range of motion opens you up to injury if you’re not careful. A common injury, especially amongst lifters is impingement syndrome. This manifests as pain, typically in the front of the shoulder and results from inflammation of tendons in the shoulder girdle. Impingement isn’t an injury you can work though, unless you want to make it worse. The best treatment is resting the joint so the inflammation can heal, which means you can’t do any pressing exercises. So let’s avoid getting inured in the first place by learning how to properly do the king of pressing exercises, the push up.
A good push up does more than just work the three main pressing muscles mentioned above. A push up is essentially a plank moving up and down. We know that a good plank consists of keeping your midsection braced, and a good squeeze of your glutes so your hips don’t sag or shoot into the air. Let’s get to it.
This is the top position, a plank. Brace the midsection and squeeze you glutes. Pull the shoulder blades down and back to ‘set’ them in place. Rotate hands out so your fingers are pointing away from your body. You want your elbows to be grazing your sides throughout the entire movement.
Halfway down. Keep everything tight so you’ve still got a flat back and continue at a steady pace. Inhale slowly as you’re lowering.
Bottom position, notice how my nose just kisses the ground. From here think about squeezing your chest together and pushing hard straight down through the floor to get back up. Exhale as you go up.
Like most other resistance exercises, you want to perform at a steady pace and under control. Think quality over quantity, which should be forefront in your mind when performing any resistance exercise.
Let’s talk about a few things NOT to do while performing a push up.
The elbow flare. Notice here the elbows are pointed out and fingers are turned in. This is poor position for both your elbows and shoulders as it places undue stress on the tendons of both those joints.
The butt up. Here the chest goes down, but the hips stay up. This is to fall into once you get fatigued.
The hip sag. Here the hips droop and sag, preventing you from achieving a full range of motion.
I’m a big fan of mastering the push up before moving on to heavier weighted exercises like barbell or dumbbell chest press. Also, there are near endless variations of push ups to make them easier or harder, which I’ll explore in a future series.
The next installment will cover the final of the four movements, the pull. Hope to see you back then.