Today’s Move of the Week features a variation of a classic exercise: the push-up!
THE MOVE: Band-resisted Push-up
MOVEMENT PATTERN AND MUSCLES WORKED: Horizontal pushing pattern: chest, shoulders, lats, upper back, and triceps.
WHY DO IT: From a technical standpoint, the push-up is an exercise that most people seem to get wrong. It looks simple enough, but there is actually a lot going on. On this front, I’ve seen elbows flaring out, hips dumping forward, and chins poking forward, when a push-up should in fact look like this.
Notice how this correct variation very much resembles a moving plank; everything from the top of the head to the toes is in line. The shoulder blades glide smoothly around the rib cage into retraction (shoulder blades moving back toward the spine ) and protraction (moving forwards towards the armpits), and the flexing and extending of the arms follow suit in a rhythmic fashion during the exercise. This synchrony between the shoulder blades and the arms is appropriately called scapulohumeral rhythm. It’s an important consideration in any movement that involves reaching, pulling, and of course, pushing.
There is a lot going on in a push-up, but once mastery is achieved it is much like driving a car–it won’t soon be forgotten. So what comes after? Unlike a bench press, there’s no bar to which we can add more weight. One of the ways we can progress a push-up is through the use of bands, as shown in the video above. The band adds accommodating resistance to the push-up. It is slack at the bottom of the push-up (where we are weakest), but taut at the top (where we are strongest). In layman’s terms, this essentially means that the band forces you to push up from the floor with constant force because the band ensures that the rep does not get any easier.
HOW TO DO IT: Push-ups and their variations typically respond well to higher volume, so I recommend 3-4 sets of 10 reps for the band-resisted push-up. As such, this is probably an exercise you would want to utilize towards the end of the workout or as secondary movements after heavy barbell lifts. Those who are in for a challenge should try using a thicker band–doing so makes these push-ups brutal.
The set-up is the tricky part, so watch the video carefully. Start by wrapping the bands across your palms, and bring it up and over your upper back. Make sure that the band is in place and set up in a standard push-up position. (Setting the band lower towards the mid-back should help.) Keep your head in line with the rest of your body and engage your abs to set your “plank” position. Pull yourself down to the ground with the elbows at 45 degrees, and finish the rep by pushing away from the floor. During this step, be sure to push constantly to overcome the resistance of the band!
by Jeremy Lau
Jeremy Lau is a Staff Coach at Halevy Life.
Jeremy graduated cum laude from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute with a BSc. in Biomedical Engineering and is currently pursuing his M.Ed. in Exercise Physiology at Columbia University. In addition to his academic accolades, Jeremy is a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist (CSCS).
Prior to joining the team at Halevy Life, Jeremy completed a coaching internship at Cressey Sports Performance, where he coached both amateur and professional athletes, among whom were many professional MLB baseball players.
As an athlete, Jeremy has played baseball competitively for most of his life.