photo credit: askmen.com
For as long as I can remember, push-ups have been around. They are a simple movement that most people can do because it only involves you and the ground. It is used in physical fitness testing ranging from elementary school all the way up to the Marines and everything in between.
It is an excellent exercise and movement due to its simplicity, but also the bang for your buck that you are getting by performing it. When performing it, besides working the pectorals and triceps, it also works scapular stability as well as hip and core stability. Besides muscular strength and stability, if performed quickly enough, it can be used for an aerobic workout and can increase the heart rate rather quickly.
The push-up is a great exercise for all ages and levels of experience. Time and time again, I see the male population performing push-ups on the floor, but on the flip side, some women and also some men are performing the "girl push-up" or the "modified push-up."
photo credit: youtube.com
I completely understand that a push-up from the floor may be too difficult for some people, male or female, to perform. When performed correctly, it can be a challenging exercise on multiple fronts. The problem with performing the modified push-up is that you aren't reaping the benefits like you would be with a regular push-up.
Instead of performing the modified position, perform a push-up with your arms/hands elevated. For example, instead of performing push-ups on the floor, perform them against a bench, countertop, bar in the squat rack, etc. You name it, it could probably be used.
Man or woman, if they are having a difficult time performing a push-up on the floor, these are great regressions you can perform while still reaping the benefits of a normal floor push-up.
Yes, the elevated push-up will be EASIER as compared to the floor. But, with the elevated push-up, you can still work on proper scapular mechanics, core/trunk stability, and improve your pressing strength.
The modified push-up is by far not as hard on the core and less demanding of the performer to have to maintain a neutral spine. With the elevated push-up, you still need to maintain a neutral spine because you are performing the movement on your hands and feet, therefore increasing the difficulty with a longer lever arm vs the modified version. This will in turn increase the demand on the core musculature versus a smaller demand with the modified version.
Time and time again in my strength:rehab world, I NEVER have a patient or client perform the modified push-up from the knees. Man or woman, if they are having difficulty performing a push-up from the floor or if someone is coming off of a surgery to the shoulder/arm, we will perform an elevated version before progressing to the floor for the various reasons mentioned above.
The great thing about performing the push-ups elevated in a squat rack is that you can monitor your progress quite easily. Whether you are performing the push-up against a bar in the rack or on the crash bars, you can easily progress or regress the exercise. By observing where the bar or crash bars are located in the rack, ie. 10 holes from the floor, this is an easy way to monitor if you are getting better at performing the push-up and also know where to set the bar each time you go to perform them.
Besides using the variations mentioned above and are close to performing a full push-up from the floor, but it is still too difficult, here are some quick variations to help with some sticking points.
Slow Eccentric Push-Ups
Push-Up Iso Holds
So, there you have it, whether you are performing the modified push-ups on the ground because you can't do a regular push-up on the ground OR you are recovering from an injury or surgery, STOP doing the modified push-up and elevate your hands and start performing them from an elevated surface.
As you get better on an elevated surface, you can continue to progress the difficulty and eventually be on the floor doing a legitimate floor push-up.
Here I will be writing and posting about topics ranging from physical therapy, injury prevention/reduction, and strength and conditioning.