Are you having problems with your push ups? Why learn or re-learn a push up? Some of us were push up kings and queens but stopped doing them. Some never learned how to do them or never did them to full range. Push ups are a basic functional exercise that should not be avoided. It is directly related to your ability to catch yourself if you fall/trip and then get up from that fall. The difference between the videos in this blog and most of the “learn to do a push up” on social media is that this series allows you to see weaknesses and shows you how to fix them. It is not a 1, 2, 3 process. Anyone can do a full push up (chest to the floor). It just takes a bit of practice and improvements in other areas such as core and shoulders.

|Push up on Tabletop or Barbell on the rack|
First make sure that the item you are going to use to push against will not move.  If using a rack, place the bar at a height that you are capable of doing.

As you improve you can lower the height until you are close to the floor.  Tighten your core.  Push through the heel part of your hand. Once your chest touches the bar (or table), push through the heels of your hands to starting position.

|Kneeling Push Up|

Start in plank position and lower your knees to the floor keeping your spine and thighs in line.  Raise feet off the floor. Hold your core tight.  Lower your chest to the floor pressing through the heels of your hand.  Once your chest touches the floor, press through the heels of your hands to starting position with knees and spine aligned.

|Full Push Up|

Start in Plank position.  Keep core tight and tuck pelvis (do not sag back).  Keep elbows and shoulders tight. Lower with control until your chest touches the ground then press through the heels of your hand to raise up to locked out position.

Note:  CORE TIGHT, PELVIS TUCKED so there is not an arch in your back, ELBOWS and SHOULDERS TIGHT, Do not let ELBOWS FLAIR.  PRESS thru HEELS of you hands

What weaknesses are you seeing, feeling when you do a full range push up? Stay tuned for some more great information in next weeks post. And feel free to DM if you have questions.

HOLLOW Body Hold Revisited to improve Pushups

After my not so stellar pushups I realized that my core needed a bunch more work.  

I started back doing Hollow Body Holds for Time.   Ten seconds for 4 sets to start and worked my way up to 30 seconds for 4 sets this week.

Check out the video and instructions on my blog (link in profile).  Thanks to Kimberly Trana from Pilates on Deck at The Fitness Center at South Shore 

How did you do?   How long could you do the hold?  How many reps?  Was your spine glued to the floor without an arch?


This is a good place to start if you cannot lift yourself up since you can lower more weight than you can lift.  It allows you to use correct form and tighten up weak areas to form a strong correct pushup.    

Start in a basic plank position.   Use the good core engagement. Pubic bone turned in toward the bottom ribs.  Tight Abs.

Screw heel of hands into ground and fingers spread to grip the floor. This allows the shoulder blades to turn in and be tight to maximize the pecs (chest) and the lats (back)

Lower to the floor with control pushing through the heels of your hands.  (Eccentric Contraction)

To get up raise your chest as if doing the yoga “cobra” and push back up.

10 to 12 reps

As you get stronger alternate in a full push ups with the worm pushups.


As you can see, once I begin my push ups my shoulders disengage, collapse.

Checking this from the top view we see the shoulders come together and elevate.

Check out these three exercises to help with shoulder activation and mobility.


This exercise makes sure that your brain is talking to the protractors and retractors. Focus on the shoulder, not the arm. TO DO:

  • Raise your right arm to 30 degrees off center from your body.
  • Thumb pointed up
  • Elevate your shoulder toward your ear
  • Retract the shoulder – Move it back
  • Depress the shoulder – Drop it down
  • Punch the shoulder forward
  • Repeat for 10 reps while trying to make this a fluid circular motion
  • Change to left side and repeat 10 times.

Is your brain processing this exercise correctly?

Exercise 2 – Shoulder Protraction / Retraction on the floor.

This Exercise works the serratus anterior and helps stabilize the shoulder to give you a solid base to do full push ups.

Push up postion –

  • Position yourself on the floor in a kneeling pushup position. This position is being used since we are doing a Corrective Exercise to work on stabilization. Doing this in a full plank will deter the isolation.
  • Lock your arms (do not bend them (they need to be straight for the entire exercise)
  • Drop your chest a bit
  • Push your hands into the floor and push forward
  • Repeat 10 times

Exercise 3 – Standing Y/W

  • Stand straight and raise arms up into a Y formation
  • Depress your Shoulder Blades (Drop)
  • Draw your elbows down squeezing shoulders together as if doing a pulldown (think about bringing your right elbow towards your left pants pocket and vice versa.

I hope these exercises work for you as well as they do for me. Let Dr McVey and I know if you have any questions or issue.

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