The Push-up System

by Stew Smith

Everyday I receive at least one email from someone (male or female) seeking to improve pushups performance.  Some maybe trying to do 10 pushups and others are attempting to get over 100 pushups in a two minute period to ace their physical fitness test (PFT) requirements.

Over the years, I have developed several methods to increase pushups and have written articles on ways to implement them into your training plan. I always use the Shoulder Workout (below) as a pushup supplement to strengthen the stabilizing muscles of the shoulder which will help you increase your pushup repetitions. The articles below discuss advanced methods and training techniques for beginners seeking to add pushups to their program:

- Push-up Push Workout
- Perfect Push-ups
- Shoulder workout

A former Navy SEAL buddy of mine, Alden Mills, has developed a new device that enables both beginner and advanced pushup performers increase strength and PFT repetitions, and helps stabilization of the shoulder joint.

Speaking to Alden Mills about the Perfect Pushup (available at the Military.com Store), he stated that "you are only as strong as your stabilizing muscles." In the case of the pushup, the muscles that stabilize your shoulder are the rotator cuff muscles (supraspinatus, subscapularis, infraspinatus, and the teres minor). Of course you will also work your chest, deltoid, and triceps muscles - also your abdominal, upper back, and lower back/hip muscles will all be engaged when doing the pushup. That is why when people with shoulder issues or lower back issues attempt to do pushups their form will suffer which could lead to injury of any of the above muscles or related joints.

The Perfect Pushup allows you to work the stabilizing muscles of the shoulders and Alden's program sets you on a path to performing pushups with a new twist. The Perfect Pushup is basically "pushup bars" but they are free spinning and allow your wrist and shoulder to rotate slightly so you can engage all the muscles of the shoulder better.

I find the Perfect Pushup to be nearly three times harder than a regular pushup. I put the Perfect Pushup to a test in a workout called Swim PT, where I rotate about 5-10 sets of swimming (or running) mixed with PT/weights exercises: 

- Swim 200-250m, jump out of the pool and perform
- 40-50 pushups,
- 50 abs of choice, and throw in some:
- Military press - 10-15 reps and:
- Bicep curls 10-15 reps with a set of dumbbells on the pool deck. 

When doing normal pushups in this workout, I usually crank out 40-45 reps before fatigue starts to set in.  When using the Perfect Pushup, I have to drop my reps to 15 or sometimes 10 due to fatigue. The Perfect Pushup is great for people who have been doing pushups for years. The natural rotation of the arms mimics that of throwing a punch where you twist the arm from the shoulder to the wrist nearly 90 degrees to generate more power for the perfect punch.

For beginners, it is strongly advised to start off on your knees so you can build the easily injured rotator cuff muscles as well as your core muscles carefully over time. Supplements workouts to help you with shoulder stability and lower back / abdominal strengthening can be found in my Military.com Archive links:

- The Best Shoulder Workout
- Resting with Crunches

Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. If you are interested in starting a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle - check out the Military.com Fitness eBook store and the Stew Smith article archive at Military.com. To contact Stew with your comments and questions, e-mail him at stew@stewsmith.com.


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