Most outdoor sports, with the exception of climbing, don’t help you gain upper body strength. Lacking upper body strength can lead to injury, imbalances, and it hinders performance. The easiest way to fix this problem is with push-ups.
The classic military-style push up will always do, but there are other more effective variations of this exercise that can help you get fitter faster, meaning better performance, no matter your preferred outdoor sport.
Adam Scott, a strength and conditioning coach from Mountain Athlete, believes that when done correctly, a perfect push up will challenge all athletes. But do your push-ups wrong? Your workout is basically useless.
We’ve put together a comprehensive guide on how to improve your push-ups, so you can gain strength and improve your performance.
Maintain correct body alignment
Having a weak core means you will have trouble maintaining correct body alignment when you’re in the middle of a push-up. This means that most of the time, your hips will drop to the floor, therefore breaking the biomechanical chain connecting your upper and lower body.
To correct this issue, you need to maintain a rigid alignment from your shoulders all the way down to your hips and heels. Your body should be in a straight line from the top of your head to your ankles. The best way to gain strength in your core is with plank exercises. Once you’re able to maintain proper alignment while being still, start adding some movements such as lifting up your hand and then move on to full push-ups.
Ditch the wide elbows and shrugged shoulders
Don’t be fooled into thinking that a broader hand position will give you more stability and strength, as the opposite is actually true. When your hands are spread too far apart, your shoulders will be forced to shrug, and your elbows will be contorted.
To correct this issue, you need to make sure that while doing a push-up, your shoulders should be aligned with the webbing of your thumbs. Sweep your elbows to the sides as you’re lowering your body. When you first start doing push-ups this way, you may not be able to do as many as before, but you’ll get it with practice, as well as a higher strength transfer.
Move through the whole range of motions
There are two ways you can cheat your way through a push-up, either with your top-half or your bottom-half. Top-half cheaters usually are weaker and lack the strength needed to recover after lowering their body, so they stay high. Bottom-half cheaters have the power to do a complete push-up, but they’re not as strong as they think, and end up doing push-ups incorrectly.
To correct this, you should always do your push-ups in the full motion range, as you will build strength and muscle memory. Your arms need to fully extend when you’re up, and your chest needs to touch the ground when you go down.