Discover more from Athletic Aging
Functional Movement 101 - The Push-Up!
In the name of power, strength, longevity and vitality!
Team! Today's workout is simple and incredibly high-yield on the fitness scale of "must-do" movements in any training program. The push-up is not often done because "they are hard!" which is correct! It's difficulty is a reflection of the fitness to be had in its mastery. Today, we scale this movement so that every skill level can benefit from the strength and conditioning derived from it. So no excuses! Enjoy! -Carla
The push-up is right beside the squat among the most foundational of the functional movements. This movement requires the recruitment of many muscle groups, including the muscles of the shoulder, rotator cuff, pectoral muscles, muscles of the upper back, and, of course, the muscles of the core of the body.
When we think of “functional” in terms of longevity, the strength in the musculature required for the push-up helps you to get up from a chair and in the unfortunate case of needing to get up off of the floor after a fall. A foundation of strength within this musculature is critical for continued longevity and vitality into our 80s, 90s, and past that Century mark, a milestone that 1/3 of us alive past age 50 today will actually achieve!
For athletes, the fitness gained from incorporating push-ups into their training will be realized for any sport requiring strength, mobility, and agility of the upper extremities and core musculature.
One more awesome aspect of this movement is that it can be done anywhere, with minimal to no equipment, and can be scaled to accommodate every fitness and ability level.
TABATA – 20-sec work/10sec off; 12 rounds, 6 minutes. Perform each movement sequentially for 20 seconds of work, then 10 seconds of rest for a total of 4 rounds of all 3 movements.
Jumping jacks 20 seconds of work/10 seconds of rest, then…..
Mountain Climbers 20 seconds of work/10 seconds of rest… then…
Easy push-up 20 seconds of work/10 seconds of rest) .. then back to the jumping jacks!
Watch this video closely, paying close attention to the instruction on the mechanics of execution. I cannot overstate the importance of this step!
If you cannot do strict push-ups from the floor, then you are likely in the majority! The best scale for this movement is to perform the push-up with the hands elevated on a STABLE box, table, chair, or even the wall, depending on your mobility and limitations. Avoid doing push-ups from your knees! This modification decreases core muscle engagement as compared to push-ups on your toes.
Take 5-10 minutes to find your push-up elevation option. Find a height that allows you to do 5 strict push-ups unbroken but becomes challenging by repetition #3. Your goal is to maintain 80% or better adherence to mechanics for all 5 repetitions.
TIP: The magic of this movement is in achieving full range of motion, that is, touching your chest to the floor (or box, bench, etc.) at the bottom of EVERY repetition!
If shoulder mobility is an issue, set a plate or a book under your chest as a target and touch your chest to this object at the bottom of each repetition.
Options for the push-up Ninja
If you can do 5, perfect strict push-ups fairly easily, try these modifications to add a challenge:
Increase the repetitions to 10 repetitions for the 5 sets.
Tempo push-ups: Descend for a slow count of 3, hold for 1 at the bottom (chest touching but not resting on the floor), and rise for a count of 1 for all 5 repetitions.
Deficit push-ups: Elevate your hands on barbell plates or other equal and stable objects (height of 1-3 inches) leaving space between the plates to touch your chest to the floor at the bottom of the movement.
EMOM 3 minutes (Every minute on the minute for 3 minutes)
5 sets of 5 reps
Options: Find one challenging hand elevation height to use for all 5 sets, or progressively challenge yourself by lowering the height of your elevation (or raising the height of your deficit push-up) each round.
Perform each movement in sequence for 20 seconds of work then 10 seconds of rest for 4 rounds of all 4 movements, a total of 8 minutes.
:20s Superman hold/10s rest.
:20s Flutter kicks/10s rest
:20s Oblique Twists/10s rest
:20s Hollow hold/10s rest
I had the privilege of being a guest on two amazing podcast episodes that dropped last week. Enjoy!
Inside Sports Nutrition Podcast: Hormones and Female Physiology with Dr. Carla DiGirolamo - Ep. #69 – Dina Griffin/Bob Seebohar
Fit Womens Weekly Podcast: Should Workouts Change As You Get Older? Dr. Carla DiGirolamo Breaks It All Down - Kindal Boyle