Exercises You Should Be Doing: Slideboard Push-Up vs. Band

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It’s no secret that I love push-ups and that I feel they’re an important component of any well-rounded fitness program. They offer a bevy of benefits ranging from improved upper body strength (pecs for days!), improved scapular kinematics, and core activation.

As such, in relation to the last point, push-ups serve as an excellent assessment tool to gauge a person’s ability – from an anterior/posterior perspective – to control the entire lumbo-pelvic-hip area.

If someone can’t maintain a neutral spinal position doing something as standard as an (un-loaded) push-up, do you think it’s going to be a good idea to place a heavy barbell on their back?

They’re also really smart, love to go for walks on the beach, can cook like no one’s business. And OMG, I can’t tell you how funny they are. Just the other day we were watching an old episode of Friends – you know, that one where Joey’s lounge chair breaks and Chandler tries to replace it? – and push-ups was like “and that’s why you never bring two rams in heat to a tap dancing recital.”


Eh, I guess you had to be there. Trust me, it was HIL-arious.

Anyways, basically all I’m trying to say is that everyone needs more push-ups in their lives. I know they’re often deemed “wimpy” or a waste of time, but I truly feel they’re one of the rare exercises that provide a lot bang for our training buck, and can easily be “tweaked” to the lifter depending on his or hers needs or goals.

Which brings us to today’s Exercise You Should Be Doing

Slideboard Push-Up vs. Band

Who Did I Steal it From:  I originally heard about this variation from my buddy, Nick Tumminello, in an article he wrote for T-Nation a few years ago – HERE.

What Does It Do:  Well, we get all the prerequisite advantages – upper body strength, core activation, shoulder health, and we get a ton of leeway in that we can make them as easy (0r challenging) as we want depending on the person we’re working with.

The main advantage of THIS variation, however, and as Nick noted in the article linked above:

Slide board band push-ups increase muscle tension around the shoulder joint by forcing the posterior shoulder muscles to contract by resisting the band pulling the hands together. Many people who can’t perform a normal push-up due to shoulder pain can successfully perform this variation pain free.

Key Coaching Cues:  In terms of basic technique, all the same “ingredients” still apply.

  • Keep chin tucked – don’t poke it towards the ground.
  • Abs should stay tight or braced (sometimes I’ll gently tap the stomach to help the trainee engage their core).
  • Squeeze the glutes (provides more posterior pelvic tilt and keeps people out of lumbar hyperextension).
  • Hands/elbows should be directly underneath the shoulders.
  • Likewise, hands should be around shoulder width apart.
  • Knees should be locked and legs in a straight line.
  • The entire backside should make a straight line.
  • Elbows should not flare out during the set (it places far more stress on the shoulders), nor should they be glued to your sides (which causes too much “crowding” and will cause people to go into excessive scapular anterior tilt). Instead, the upper arms should make a 45-degree angle to the body.
  • Chest touches floor (or in this case, the slideboard) on every rep.

Another key point I want to note is how to “finish” each rep.  Try to push yourself away from the floor as much as possible at the top of each repetition (scapular protraction).  By doing so, you’re allowing the scapulae to function through a full ROM (adduction AND abduction), and you’re inviting the serratus anterior into the mix as well. Never a bad idea.

You’ll note in the video I do a fairly decent job of doing it correctly.  You’ll also note the lame music in

the background.

Specific to this variation, though, is you’ll need to grab a mini-band (or something equivalent) and wrap that around your wrists.  Place your hands on top of the “footsies” that come with the slideboard and as you perform your push-up, you’ll need to place tension in the band by pulling it apart and then preventing it from forcing your hands together.

This will help activate the posterior shoulder.

NOTE:  for those who don’t have access to a slideboard you could easily use a pair of ValSlides or even those cheapo furniture gliders you can purchase at your local Home Depot.  Either way, the objective is to perform these on a slippery surface.

Try them out today and let me know what you think!


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Plus, get a copy of Tony’s Pick Things Up, a quick-tip guide to everything deadlift-related. See his butt? Yeah. It’s good. You should probably listen to him if you have any hope of getting a butt that good.

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