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The humble push up - one of the most overlooked and underrated upper-body exercises
People seem obsessed with the bench press, thinking it impossible to build a good set of pecs without the bench press being the mainstay of their chest training routine.
Okay, so if push ups are so great, why isn’t everyone doing them?
Back to the Push-up:
Okay, so how do I get started with my push up workouts then?
Lever Push ups: The next step in mastering the one arm push up.
In the video, I showed you how to correctly perform the regular push up, the diamond push up and then the uneven push up. You should progess from one to the next in that order, being able to perform 2 sets of 20 for the regular push up, before progressing to the diamond push up. To progress from the diamond push up to uneven push ups, you should also be able to perform 2 sets of 20.
When you’re able to perform 2 sets of 15-20 reps PER ARM of uneven push ups, you can progress to the next movement, lever push ups.
What are Lever Push ups?
Lever push ups are significantly more difficult than uneven push ups because your one arm is extended completely, and far out to the side, so you are able to generate very little force with it. It acts mostly to help you balance and in a stabilizing role. Almost all of the force will be generated by the pressing arm.
In the video below I demonstrate how to perform lever push ups:
When performing lever push ups, be careful to not put too much pressure on the elbow of the arm on the ball. The bulk of the weight must go onto the pressing arm.
If you find your elbow becoming sore, then you are not putting enough weight and force into the pressing arm. Make a conscious effort to do this.
If, even after making a conscious effort to put more force and weight into the pressing arm, you find you are still having problems with your elbow, perhaps you are not yet strong enough to be doing lever push ups.
Go back to uneven push ups and gradually start moving the ball out from underneath you and into the lever push up position each week. When you get back to the full lever push up position, you should find yourself much stronger in this movement and you should not have problems with your elbow.
Work your way up to 2 sets of 15 reps (PER ARM) on this movement before progressing.
Elevated one arm push ups: The final step towards the one arm push up!
Do not rush into these, rather make sure you are fully competent with lever push ups first. Now is not the time to be rushing and cutting corners because your technique will be sloppy and your progress will stall if you go too fast.
What is an elevated one arm push up?
The elevated one arm push up is almost identical to the proper one arm push up. The only difference is that by elevating your torso slightly, you are transferring some of your bodyweight to your feet and away from your torso, thereby making the exercise slightly easier.
Obviously the higher your elevation, the easier the exercise will be because you are transferring more weight to your feet. Start at a height that will allow you to perform at least 6 reps per arm, with good technique as shown in the video.
Once you are comfortable at a particular height, you can move a bit lower, repeating the process of GRADUALLY moving lower and lower until your hand is on the ground and you are doing legitimate one arm push ups.
In the video I used a stack of books for my elevation. I like using a stack of objects because it makes it easier to consistently and efficiently change your elevation, by removing or adding objects (in this instance books) from or to the stack.
So, if you've paid your dues with the training and push up varieties laid out in the first 2 videos, then elevated one-arm push ups should not pose too much of a problem.
Once you can do 6 reps per arm at a certain elevation with these, decrease the elevation. When you can do 6 reps at the new, lower elevation, decrease it again until you are on the ground, doing legitimate one-arm push ups.
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Article by: Bryan Hamann.
Bryan is a personal trainer, certified bootcamp instructor, Ironman Triathlete and author of THE PRISON WORKOUT.
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