Progress the Push Up: Intermediate Level

In my last push up article and video I laid out strategies and progressions I use with my athletes to perform a proper floor push up for reps with ease.


To perform a proper floor push up it is important to maintain the correct positioning of the arms and shoulders and to move through the range of motion where the athlete’s hips and shoulders stay level throughout. Once they get the hang of the push up mechanics, the progression I like starting with is the elevated push up on a bar which can be lowered to different degrees until the athlete is doing them on the floor.

Once floor push ups are performed with ease I look for ways to make the movement more challenging and beneficial for the athlete’s physical growth. These are the intermediate push up progressions I use to take them to the next level. All of them are more challenging than the floor but relatively safe to perform when the athlete is strong enough and exemplifying proper technique during the movement.

Suspension Strap Push Ups

Suspension strap push ups are an excellent option for the beginner to transition from the floor to the next level. Any suspension device can be used like rings, Blast Straps and the TRX. The suspension straps rely on more shoulder stability of each arm due to the fact that they are not on a fixed surface, however they can be progressed depending on where you stand.

When first starting out, be in a more vertical position relative to the floor and as strength and stability are gained gradually move into a more horizontal position.

Elevated Push Ups

Elevated push ups are a challenge because of their nature allowing the athlete to move through a greater range of motion by dropping their body lower then if they were to do it on the floor. Adequate shoulder range of motion and stability are a must if you intend to do this variation. Remember the goal is not to get as low as you can, it is to be as stable as you can and maintain proper technique.

Uneven Push Up

Like the elevated push up, the uneven push up allows one of your sides to get lower than if you were performing them on the floor. The unique aspect of the uneven push up is the challenge of keeping your core stable. Because one side has the ability to descend lower than the other, there is also a greater chance of your core collapsing during the movement and that is what you want to avoid.

Traveling Push Up

The traveling push up takes the uneven push up to the next level by making it more dynamic. After you complete a rep on one side you want to transition to the other side without collapsing your core. The better you get at performing these, the less collapse you will have and the less movement of your body during these transitions. A good goal is to transfer from one side to the other smoothly and in the least amount of movement as possible. Be careful not to go too fast in transition initially, so you do not miss the ball and injure your wrist. If you are a beginner with this variation, roll the ball to the other side at first.

For further explanation of the progressions above check out the video below:

Rise Above’s 7th Anniversary Party and 1-hour Long Cycle Charity Event

Seven years has gone by so fast and it is time to reflect, be thankful and celebrate all over again. Since I first opened Rise Above Performance Training I truly wanted to make a living by, building a family, helping the local community with their fitness and injury prevention needs and give back to greater causes. This year’s party was a culmination of all three of my goals.
With a very hectic schedule, this year seemed to get away from us and we could not find a good date for the anniversary party until we realized that we could combine the party with my favorite charity event; the 1-Hour Kettlebell Long Cycle.


This October the 1-Hour Kettlebell Long Cycle event is also celebrating its 6th anniversary. If you do not know the history behind the event, Jason Dolby of the Orange Kettlebell Club (OKC) decided six years ago that he wanted to celebrate his birthday in epic fashion by combining three things he loves most in this world: lifting kettlebells, his friends and family and helping out those who need it most.
Over the six years this event has gone from 19 lifters in Southern California at the First Long Cycle Charity event, to over 760 lifters, and 67 satellite locations representing 15 countries.
Jason again teamed up with Kettlebells4Autism (KB4A) and, once again pulled off an even bigger and better event. Over 760 lifters took part worldwide and more than $36,000 was raised for the chosen autism beneficiary, Association for Science in Autism Treatment.


This year at Rise Above we decided to be one of those satellite locations and then throw our anniversary party afterwards and the response was so well received that this format might be the way Rise Above is going to continually celebrate in the future.
We had 18 lifters; four of whom completed the whole hour solo and the rest were on relay teams of two and three. Not only did everyone make the whole hour, the Rise Above community came up big with their charitable support. Our gym alone raised $2,375 for Kettlebells4Autism (KB4A).
I am truly proud of the Rise Above community for not only supporting the cause financially but also coming in to participate in the kettlebell lifting marathon.


In a very surprising moment after the event Charles Stone presented Rise Above with two certificates of recognition from the city of Belmont and from the State Assembly of California. It is nice to know that everything I have been building these past seven years has not gone unnoticed and we are truly impacting the community in a positive way. We want to build on that for years to come.


With that said I could not have done it alone. Special thanks goes out to Jeff of MoveWell for bringing high quality physical therapy to Rise Above and to Debra who is the creative genius behind the design and execution of all of the posters, fliers, monthly newsletters and online work that goes into the business. I also want to thank my family for their continued support and especially to my sister for helping me with the articles, the blog and other publications. A very special thanks goes out to the entire Rise Above community who supports the gym and finds pleasure in fitness with us.
Lastly, I would like to thank all of you who subscribe to the email list. I greatly appreciate you reading my articles and watching my videos. I do my best to provide you with the best strength and conditioning insights. I would not have lasted seven years without the support of my subscribers. I hope to have all of you come by the gym to visit, workout or compete at the next anniversary party and lift some kettlebells for charity with us.


For more pictures of this great event check out the album on The Facebook Page.

Saturday, October 31st, 2015 Articles No Comments

Progress your Push Ups: Beginners Guide

The Push up is one of the most common of exercises and because of this, I believe, it is a movement that is taken for granted. Not only is it assumed to be easy to perform but it is highly underutilized in training programs and therefore not much attention is given to its technical reform.

I use push up variations in all of my athletes’ programming and I even use a push up assessment with a new or returning athlete and honestly I am very surprised at the number of people who cannot perform a push up properly.

This article will get you refocused on proper push up form, get you to perform more repetitions and prepare you for more intermediate and advanced progressions down the road.

Technically Speaking

When performing all exercise movements correct posture and control should be in the forefront of one’s mind. I tell my athletes that the push up is a moving front plank; the whole body moves as one unit from the top to the floor and back up.

So many times I see the hips remain high while the chest descends to the floor or the opposite happening where the hips drop below the shoulders especially at the bottom of the movement. Whether it is a lack of strength in a particular area or it is a lack of control of the body by moving too fast and becoming disjointed, maintaining proper body alignment is crucial to a proper push up.



Push UpStarting Out

If an athlete’s push ups look more like a convulsing fish on land rather than a smooth movement they need to be brought back a few steps to progress forward. The best way to do that is to get them elevated.

Using a bar on a rack or Smith machine set it up to the proper level for the athlete to be successful. Have them start with the hand in a position where they will be the strongest. I ask my athletes to put their hands in a position where they would be if they were to push me across the room. Usually the hands are positioned just outside the body where the thumbs are very close to the armpits.

Set them up on the bar in this manner and before they move tell them to tighten the glutes and core. As they descend to the bar have them pull their body to the bar as if they were compressing a big spring with their chest, this will hopefully eliminate the desire to descend too rapidly as well as maintain tension at the bottom of the movement before they come back up.

The movement should be smooth with no compensation of body position. If the hips drop tell them to tighten up the glutes and core. If the elbows flare outward tell them to keep them tucked. One great cue I got from the IFAST strength and conditioning coach, Mike Robertson is to look like an arrow at the bottom position. Your head it the point and the elbows should descend downward to make the rest of the shape. If the elbows are flared out the arrow shape is not achieved.

The elevated bar is a nice progression tool for the push up. As the athlete gets better at performing them try adding repetitions and start to lower the bar until they are ready to perform push ups on the floor once again.

For further explanation of the progressions above check out the video below:

Monday, August 24th, 2015 Articles, Athlete Training, Videos No Comments