Self-Study: Push-ups

Push-ups are an ideal upper body conditioning exercise for martial arts that are frequently incorporated in class.  Besides the obvious chest, arm, and shoulder muscles push-ups develop, they are also a great exercise for the core of your body including the abdominals and obliques.  Fist push-ups also teach students how to make a proper fist to avoid hand/wrist injury when making contact with something.

Push-up Principles:

  • Must have full range of motion… chest and hips touch ground together on flat push-ups.  If inclined or declined, be sure to gently touch chest to surface.  At top of push-up, arms do not completely lock out  – there continues to be a slight bend at the elbow (exactly like a punch).
  • Speed… as fast as you can go while maintaining full range of motion and complete control of body – slowing is natural as muscles start to give.  All push-ups are done with complete safety in mind so stop before you fail.
  • Straight body (except Chinese push-ups)…. even just holding your body straight at the top of the push-up (plank) is a workout
  • Head is gently lifted up and eyes are looking forward

The Student’s Push-up Evolution

Push-ups are  upper body strengthening and conditioning exercise.  Below is a list of push-up variations and modifications.  There are numerous push-up techniques… too numerous in fact to mention here, but the major ones will be shown.  If you can do 3 sets of 20 of #1 Standing push-ups leaning against a wall or table, then you can move onto then next one  – Standard Push-ups (On Knees).  Once those can be done, then Standard Push Ups (Flat) and so on.  The goal is to be able to go down the entire list and comfortably be able to complete all.  If you can do this, you will have attained a high degree of upper body strength – no weight machines necessary.

1.  Standing push-up leaning against a wall or table

Wall Push Up

Wall Push Up

2.  Standard Push-ups (On Knees, Flat, Declined)

Knee Push Up

Knee Push Up

Regular Push Up

Regular Push Up

Decline Push Up

Decline Push Up

3.  Diamonds (On Knees, Flat, Declined)

Diamond Push Up

Diamond Push Up

4.  Fist Push-ups (On Knees, Flat, Declined)

Fist Push Up

Fist Push Up

5.  Clapping Push-ups (On Knees, Flat, Declined)

Clapping Push Up

Clapping Push Up

6.  Finger Push Ups (On Knees, Flat, Declined)

Finger Push Up

Finger Push Up

7.  Chinese Push Ups

Chinese Push Up

Chinese Push Up

8.  One Arm Push-up (Incline, Flat, Declined)

One-arm Push Up

One-arm Push Up

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