Move of the Month from SVPT Fitness: Push-up Challenge

Push-ups are probably one of the most commonly prescribed exercises because they are the easiest exercises to do anywhere, anytime.  When done correctly, the push-up is an exercise that builds whole body strength.  Essentially a moving plank, push-ups work many key muscles of the upper body, including the arms, pectorals (chest), deltoids (shoulders), the triceps, and lower body, including glutes, hamstrings, and especially the core.

Start with an elevated push up – only go to the floor when you can maintain perfect form in the elevated position.  Elevated or incline push-ups will build the strength you need to perform push-ups from the floor. Its difficulty depends on the height of the surface you use. The lower the surface the more challenging the exercise will be, as you will be closer to the floor.  Hands should be elevated at least 12 inches on a sturdy bench, box, counter, chair, stair or table.  The higher the surface, the easier it will be.  So if you have to, start higher than 12 inches.  You can even do them with your hands braced against a wall.

Here are 3 ways to challenge your push-up:

  • Paused or Isometric: In the bottom position, hold for 4-6 seconds, maintaining good position. Perform 4-10 reps, for 3 sets.
  • Eccentric: Descent to the bottom position for 4-6 seconds, maintaining good position.  Perform 4-10 reps, for 3 sets.
  • 3 Point Push-Up: Lift one leg 1 inch off the floor, and perform a perfect push-up. Switch legs.  Perform 3-6 reps per leg, for 3 sets.


Keys for Success:

  • Place hands a little wider than shoulder width in the start and finish position
  • Elbows should be at 45 degrees so when you look from behind your elbows should look like an ARROW not a “T”
  • Feet should start a little wider than hip width – the wider the feet, the more base of support (for more challenge you can place feet together)
  • Neutral spine – back should be flat, not arched or sagging
  • Think about tucking your pelvis, or pulling your pelvis towards your belly button
  • Neck neutral – look to the floor, not up
  • Engaged core

By SVPT Fitness & Athletics

This website is for informational purposes only. Consult a physician before performing any exercise program, including the programs on this website. It is your responsibility to evaluate your own medical and physical condition, or that of your clients, and to independently determine whether to perform, use or adapt any of the information or content on this website. Any exercise program may result in injury. By voluntarily undertaking any exercise displayed on this website, you assume the risk of any resulting injury.


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