B1 Intermediate US 117 Folder Collection
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What's up, guys?
Jeff Cavaliere, ATHLEANX.com.
Today we're going to talk about the pushup.
One of the most common exercises performed in the gym.
However, it's also one of the most commonly mis-performed exercises.
I feel that what happens with this exercise is we don't pay it the same attention as
we do, say, the bench-press.
That's ironic because we're going to cover both exercises side by side, creating a checklist
so you can see the commonalities between the two exercises, therefore hopefully better
understanding the cues that you're looking to integrate and make sure you follow them
when you perform this exercise.
So, you make sure you get the most out of it.
Are you ready?
As I mentioned in the opening, if you're looking at the two exercises, they are very
much the same exercise.
One is being done with a barbell and one is utilizing your own bodyweight as the resistance.
If I were to lift my knees up onto a pair of dumbbells to try and equate the torso positioning
here, you can see the mechanics of the 'pushing' portion of the exercise is the same.
We want to make sure we're doing the same thing across the board, utilizing the same
mechanics and focusing the same attention to get the most out of it.
We start at the top here and work our way down.
That is with the head and neck.
Where do you want your head and neck to be?
Well, we don't want them to do this.
If you were doing a bench-press you would never try to push your head back into the
Although, that is a common flaw.
As people try and generate more force away from their body, they do everything they can
to produce force from the opposite direction.
Often times, pushing with the back of their head.
That not only creates neck strain most often, but it's also taking away from the mechanics
of the exercise and how to do it properly.
What we want to do is make sure, if anything, we keep our chin down and tucked in, so we
prevent that from happening.
With the pushup it's the same thing.
We're not trying to bend our head all the way back or flex our head all the way down
toward the ground, sometimes creating the illusion that our eyes and body are getting
closer to the ground before it actually does.
That's why we do that.
What we want to do is keep it in neutral and maintain that position from the very first
rep, to the last.
The next thing we want to do is look at the shoulders.
The most important thing you can do here is un-shrug them.
What do I mean?
If you look at a bench-press, one of the most common flaws people make is, in an effort
to create that tightness or retraction that they hear we should have on the exercise,
they pull up into this shrug.
That's not what we want.
As a matter of fact, we want the exact opposite.
We want the shoulders together, but we also want them down.
We can do that by consciously un-shrugging the shoulders here.
The secondary effect of this is that it's going to put the elbows in a better position
as we perform the press.
Because as we shrug up the clavicle is going to change its angle, dragging the scapula
along with it.
As those two go together we know the relationship between it and the shoulder joint itself,
you're going to change the mechanics of the shoulder joint.
Mostly elevating it inside the socket, creating a higher elbow angle as you go down into the
We're going to cover that in depth as we get down here.
But the most important thing you can do is start by initiating a conscious un-shrugging
of the shoulder.
It doesn't just apply for the bench-press, obviously.
It does the same thing here in the pushup.
Before you even descend into a single rep, consciously pull your shoulders down and back.
We'll get into the specifics of what you want to do with your scapula next, but the
most important thing you could do here, before you do anything else, is un-shrug those shoulders.
Moving onto the upper back, the most important thing you could do here is create stability
and tightness through here.
Because it's what provides the stable base from which you will press off.
Whether you're doing a pushup or a bench-press.
Let me explain.
When people tell you to retract your shoulder blades what they're trying to do is tell
you to create tightness there.
Because the bar will start and end over this base, if you're doing this exercise properly,
and we're going to talk about this more when we talk about bar path later on.
The fact is this: you have your most force and power when you can push off something
If I were to give you one opportunity to produce your highest vertical jump ever and I give
you two chances to do it would you rather do it off sand, or off this hard floor here
in the gym?
Most likely, if you're smart enough, you'd be choosing the hard floor in this gym because
you know you could generate the most force into that floor to push off in the opposite
The same thing applies here in both the bench-press and the pushup.
You want to make sure you consciously pull your shoulder blades together and make them
Create as much tightness as you can right through that shoulder girdle.
Realize that's where you're going to be pushing off and generating force in the opposite
If you get this right, guys, I promise you, not only will the pushup become easier, but
the bench-press will as well.
The next part is one that catches some people by surprise.
That is activation of the glutes.
We know that your body's ability to perform any exercise is infinitely made better if
you can involve, not just the upper body, but the lower body as well, where some of
the strongest muscles in your body reside.
When you're looking at a bench-press you actively want to contract your glutes.
This provides additional strength and force in that opposite direction from the ground
As I push the bar away, I can drive my feet down, creating these equal and opposite force
here, to allow me to do that with more efficiency.
We can do the same thing here when we do the pushup.
I want to make sure that I'm not lazily hanging out in the pushup position, but I'm
actively contracting my glutes.
The second I do this – we call this 'plugging the energy leaks'.
You create more total body tightness.
You create more efficiency from the top down throughout the entire kinetic chain.
So, when I do a single rep, I'm not losing it and having the force dissipate from what
I'm generating, pushing into the floor throughout the weak spots of my body.
Tightening the glutes alone will give you an instant fix, and an instant plug of that
common energy leak, allowing you to do this exercise better.
An additional benefit to not only getting your upper back tightness and your glute activation
in place is that you'll also fix the positioning of your thoracic spine.
As we tighten from below and tighten from the top the thoracic spine will follow.
We'll get proper extension.
We'll give ourselves a chance to allow the chest to get out in front, as opposed to letting
the shoulders get out in front.
This is an important distinction to make when we're trying to press safely.
We know if the shoulders tend to dominate the movement, not only will we have an underdeveloped
chest from doing the exercises, but we're also putting ourselves in a position of a
likely impingement and damage in that joint over time.
By fixing the upper back and by fixing the glutes we're correcting the thoracic spine's
positioning as an additional benefit.
Up to this point, all the items in our checklist were things you could change or modify before
you even did a single repetition.
But at some point, we've got to get going.
When we do, we need to make sure we focus first and foremost on what's happening here
in our elbows.
When we perform the bench-press what we do not want to do is allow the elbows to travel
high because we know how dangerous that could be for the safety of your shoulders.
Especially considering the fact that these are both exercises that you're likely to
rack up lots of repetitions on over the course of your training in your lifetime.
So, what we want to do is create a little more subacromial space by allowing our elbows
to drift downward, about 30 degrees off the horizontal.
Beyond that, we know it's further reinforcing what we talked about in the very beginning.
That is to decompress those shoulders, to pull those traps down.
The third thing we know it does is, we know it allows us to push with more force.
If I were to ask you right now to push me away from you, the thing you would probably
do is keep your elbows in the position here.
It's a natural position for your elbows to generate the most amount of force.
You would not try to flare your elbows and push me from here because you just turned
a chest, shoulder, and tricep movement into a simple tricep extension movement that doesn't
have nearly the same force generation capabilities.
You want to make sure you get this right.
Again, it carries over here to the pushup as well.
You don't allow your elbows to drift all the way up here.
The same things that were problematic for your shoulder in the bench-press would be
problematic here as well.
Just because you're not using the same amount of weight doesn't mean it's still not
biomechanically bad for your shoulders.
So, get those elbows tucked down and focus on maintaining this position from the first
rep to the last, to not only keep those shoulders safe, but to get much more out of the exercise.
Whether you're doing the bench-press or the pushup.
So, we talked about the proper performance of the bench-press, we talk about the bar
path being critical to that because we want an efficient movement pattern here.
We can generate that by having a straight bar path.
But straight doesn't necessarily mean straight up and down.
It means straight at an angle.
We go from that position of power that we talked about up here with the upper back.
From this position of stability, it travels down because we know the elbows are taking
us in that direction to align lower across your chest.
From there we want to get back to that position of stability.
We know if we press straight out from there, we're going to create much more strain and
stress on the front delt than we want.
We want to get it back to that position of stability, which is straight up over our shoulder
blades, and up over that stable base.
So, the bar path is going to be angled.
So how do we do this on a pushup?
Well, we can't move a bar in space like we can on a bench-press.
But what we can do is manipulate our body in space.
So, as I go down into a rep, I want to allow my body to drift a little bit forward into
my hands, so my hands are lined up along that lower chest line at the bottom of the repetition.
From here, as I press up, I simply allow my body to drift back just a little bit, so my
hands come back up to a position like they started, above that stable base of my shoulder
There's a slight rocking component to this.
It's very, very subtle, but very important to make sure you're maintaining those same
Nothing changes between the bench-press and the pushup.
You still want to have that same path, whether it be with a bar or your body, if you want
to maintain efficiency, and you want the greatest power output.
Lastly, guys, one of the things that drives me crazy about any exercise is when people
bastardize the form in an effort to just perform the exercise.
It's more important to do it right.
So, we don't want to bounce any bar off our chest just to lift more weight.
What we want to do is convince ourselves that it was our muscles that did the work and not
the momentum.
So, when you get down to the bottom of a bench-press, pause.
Hold the bar against your chest for a split second and then push back from there.
There's not difference with a pushup either.
Guys, there's nothing stopping you from turning this pushup into a much more difficult
version of a pushup by weighting is.
The fact of the matter is, everything would still stay the same.
When I get to the bottom, I want that brief pause because I want to know when I initiate
the descent from that pushup, I'm doing it with the work of my muscles, and not simply
bouncing off the ground, or bouncing the bar off my chest.
There you have it, guys.
A complete checklist to make sure you're not only getting the pushup right, but you're
also seeing the correlation between it and the bench-press, so you can get all of them
Guys, the mechanics of every exercise you do are important.
The details matter.
If you're looking for a program that puts the science back in strength, that realizes
everything you do in the gym matters, and you need to pay attention to it; head over
to ATHLEANX.com and get one of our ATHLEANX programs.
In the meantime, if you've found the video helpful leave your comments and thumbs up
Let me know what else you want me to cover and I'll do my best to do that for you in
the days and weeks ahead.
And finally, guys, if you haven't already done so, please subscribe and turn on your
notifications so you never miss a video when we do it.
All right, guys, I'll see you soon.
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The Official Push-Up Checklist (AVOID MISTAKES!)

117 Folder Collection
dnwsaa58 published on November 12, 2019
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