Print Friendly, PDF & Email

What do you think we should be able to do physically, up until the week that we die?

So far I’ve proposed mobility-dominant  and cardio benchmarks. Today, we’re touching on functional strength.

No way to get around it, we should all be able to do at least one solid pushup from the ground.

Why? ‘Cause… eventually, things go down. Onto the ground. Like people. And we will need to push ourselves back up.

And while it’s true that we have to balance out postural concerns and our ability to pull things, we must be able to push objects (or ill-intentioned people) away from us to stay safe and useful. We also need to be able to control our own weight against gravity by pushing away from the earth.


If you are more a watcher than a reader, click here for the video version.

A Proper Pushup

There are lots of ugly pushups, most of them involving a variant of the neck poking forward during the descent.

As always, I advocate for good quality movement before moving into the range of quantity. Let’s keep that strong spine, neutral neck, lat engage, and full-body tension.

Start at the Very Beginning

If it’s been a while and you are deconditioned, your pushups may best be done facing the wall. Keep the palms of hands just in front of your shoulders, with elbows tucked alongside your ribs.

As you become able to do, say, 10 great pushups there, the challenge level can increase as you work harder against gravity. This could look like a countertop first, then a sturdy bench, with eventually the floor being your goal.

Levelling Up

COVID-19 means that lately I’m doing a lot of weighted pushups as well as sticking-point pushups. Both are great ways to build benching-specific strength with no access to a bench.

If you aren’t lucky enough to have a weight handy, you can also elevate your feet. This decline pushup does turn it into an incline press, essentially, so shoulders need to be able to tolerate the change in the angle.

Need Help?

Whether it’s regarding technique or programming, if you have questions, please contact me.