As we all know, CrossFit is a full body strength and conditioning workout. Bodyweight exercises are a big part of the programming for boxes all around. Pull ups, push ups, air squats, box jumps and burpees are amongst some of the most common. And what is one of the most common statements coming from a newbies mouth? “I can’t do a pull up!” “I have to do girl push ups!” First of all, there is no such thing as a gender based push up. A push up is a push up that comes with a lot of modifications. Whether you are new to CrossFit or struggle with your push ups, this will help you work your way into doing an old fashioned, strict push up.
Let’s first discuss the benefits of a push up. A simple push up focuses on your chest, triceps and shoulders; however your entire core reaps the benefits as long as your body positioning is correct. Push ups can also help improve posture, develop muscles that protect shoulders from injury and prevent lower back issues, enhance your cardiovascular system, and build overall strength and body definition while helping to improve balance and stability. Lastly, a push up is free and can be done just about anywhere.
Wall Push up
If you have never done a pushup or can’t remember the last time you did, find a wall. A wall push up is the easiest of them all. Stand a couple of feet away from the wall and lean forward to place your hands about shoulder width apart on the wall. While keeping your arms at about a 45 degree angle and your body straight and tight, lower yourself into the wall and then push yourself back to starting position. This is a wall push up. If you can comfortably do about 3 sets of 15, time to move on.
Incline Push up
An incline push up is typically done on a box. The nice thing about the box is that you can adjust the height making it easier or harder. You’ll position yourself the same as you did against the wall but now your body is getting closer to being parallel to the ground. Once you are able to pump out those 3 sets 15 with no problem, it’s time to get down and dirty.
Negative Push up
A negative push up, also called decelerating, is simply an easier way to build strength and learn proper form. You will get yourself in plank position. Hands placed on floor under your shoulders and about shoulder width apart. Fully extend your arms so your entire body is off the floor. Your body should be tight and straight like a stiff board. With your arms at a 45 degree angle, slowly lower yourself all the way down to the ground so your entire body is touching. If you are unable to push yourself back up, use your knees to help you. Stick with this method until you are able to complete at least 3 sets of 15.
Good Old Fashioned Push up
You did it! You have worked your way up to pushin with the big dogs! The biggest difference here is how low you go and how controlled you are on the way up. The standard is chest to ground. When fatigue hits, we’ll see athletes “bobbing for apples,” when only the torso is moving, or doing the “worm,” chest up first and then the rest of the body. The correct and only correct way to do it is by keeping a tight core and straight body the entire way down and up!
No matter which modified push up you are doing, there are 3 key things to keep in mind: Maintain a tight straight body, lift your hips so they aren’t sagging, and move your shoulders back rather than leading with them. Your coach may have some alternative suggestions for you to modify your push up. Listen to all of your options and find the modification that works best for you. With a little patience and determination, you will be performing a proper, good looking push up that no one would dare no-rep before you know it!