The push-up is arguably the best exercise ever. After all, it uses your entire body, requires absolutely no equipment (even a pull-up requires a bar), and it’s about as functional as it gets.
Anyone who’s done martial arts training has no doubt had to do push-ups at some point. Yet as common as it is to see students performing push-ups, it’s surprisingly uncommon to actually see them done with proper form. I don’t know if it’s because people are trying to save their energy for sparring, or if the instructors just expect students to crank out an unrealistic number of reps, but this shit has to stop. It’s simple to do a quality push-up; there are just three things to keep in mind:
1. Maintain a straight line from head to heels throughout the entire range of motion.
2. Break a 90 degree angle along the outside of your elbows at the bottom.
3. Fully extend your elbows at the top.
That’s it – just three simple rules. But if you follow those rules to a T, you might be surprised by how challenging the basic push-up can be. No squirming your hips, no scrunching your shoulders, no partial reps. No bullshit.
Doing a proper push-up basically just means holding a plank position while moving up and down. If your abs are disengaged or fatigued, your hips will wind up dropping too low or creeping up too high. It can be hard to feel this happening, so get someone to watch you or video yourself so you can look back on it after. You might be surprised by what you see.
Once you can do at least 40 consecutive push-ups with the form described above, you are ready to tackle advanced variations. Here are some of my favorite choices for fighters: Plyo Push-ups When you do a plyometric push-up, you use explosive power to bring your hands (and in some cases, your feet) off the ground. Plyo push-ups may also involve claps, arm waves or other movements. With plyo push-ups, you may find that your hips bend a bit due to the explosive nature of the exercise. This is the only type of push-up where that’s acceptable.
Fighters need strong hands more than most athletes, and few exercises can build hand strength like fingertip push-ups. For beginners, just holding the push-up position on the fingertips can be quite challenging. If this is the case for you, try keeping one hand flat while staying on the fingertips of the other and do your push-ups this way. Perform an even number of sets, alternating which hand is flat.
THE ONE ARM PUSH-UP
Don’t be fooled by the name, one arm push-ups are a full body exercise! Like other single-limb movements, total body tension is the key to this one. Squeeze your legs, abs and even your free arm – contract every muscle you can when you practice one arm push-ups! Once you get strong enough to do a few of these in a row, you’ll literally be able to push yourself through tough fight situations.
KEEP IT REAL
Don’t overlook any exercise just because it is simple. The push-up may seem basic, but just like throwing a crisp right hand or shooting a successful takedown, it takes time and repetition to master. Excellence is a habit – commit to doing solid push-ups every single time, you might find yourself a better fighter for it. The next time you go to a gym in Delhi, Gurgaon or Mumbai make sure your workout incorporates lots and lots of push ups.