Exercises You Should Be Doing: Spiderman Push-Ups

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We do a lot of push-ups at Cressey Performance. As far as “bang for your training buck” exercises, I’d place push-ups right up there with squats, deadlifts, and chin-ups (to name a few). Unfortunately, and not at all surprising, push-ups typically get ignored all together because they’re deemed “too wimpy” compared to what else- the bench press.

Which is ironic, because I’d say that roughly 90% of the people who come in for their initial evaluation can’t perform a proper push-up; let alone do them for multiple repetitions.

Without getting too off track, why do I like push-ups? Well, for starters, it goes without saying that they’re a great exercise for developing upper body strength. Additionally, unlike the bench press, push-ups are a closed chain exercise, which among other things, is advantageous for scapular kinematics as well as shoulder health in general. Lastly, as I mentioned in this article, push-ups are great for teaching people how to “engage” their core musculature in a more functional manner. Believe it or not, if I can get someone more proficient with their push-ups, more often than not, I also see an improvement in their squats and/or deadlifts as well.

Needless to say, we’re always trying to come up with new and inventive ways to “progress” push-ups. We obviously have toys available to us that most gyms don’t have which allow us to load the push-up in a variety of ways. Including but not limited to bands, chains, weight vests, or just your average 16 year old client:

Granted, for many of you reading this, you may be asking yourself, “how can I make push-ups more challenging if I don’t have access to all the stuff listed above?” Here’s one simple variation that I like to use from time to time:

What Is It: Spiderman Push-Up

What Does It Do: See above. But also provides a little more of a stability challenge since you’ll only have three point of contact throughout the movement.

Key Coaching Cues: The same principle apply as with any push-up:

1. Elbows tucked in.

2. Lower yourself to you chest, and don’t “reach” with your neck.

3. Squeeze the glutes, brace the abdominals—–doing so will prevent your hips from “dipping.”

4. Don’t suck.

That’s pretty much it. From there, you’re just going alternate bringing your right knee to your right elbow (and vice versa for the left side) for the required repetitions. You can either do this for time, or for reps- I prefer the latter. On an aside, you could also make these more challenging by adding chains or a weight vest, but I think you’ll be surprised at how hard these are to begin with.

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