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THE PUSH-UP IS WIDELY USED BY FITNESS PROFESSIONALS TO DEVELOP UPPER-BODY STRENGTH, POWER, AND LOCAL MUSCULAR ENDURANCE. ALTHOUGH THE LOAD DURING A PUSH-UP IS LIMITED BY AN INDIVIDUAL'S BODYWEIGHT AND ANTHROPOMETRY, MANY BIOMECHANICAL VARIATIONS OF THE EXERCISE CAN BE PERFORMED. THESE VARIATIONS MAY INVOLVE ALTERING HAND AND FOOT POSITIONS, WHICH IMPACTS MUSCLE RECRUITMENT PATTERNS AND JOINT STRESSES. THE IMPLICATIONS OF THESE VARIATIONS MAY BE OVERLOOKED WITH RESPECT TO THE INDIVIDUAL NEEDS AND GOALS OF THE CLIENT.
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One-On-One
The One-On-One Colum n provides scientifically
supported, practical information for personal trainers
who work with apparently healthy individuals or
medically cleared special populations.
COLUMN EDITOR: Paul Sorace, MS, RCEP, CSCS*
The Biomechanics of the
Push-up: Implications for
Resistance Training
Programs
Bret Contreras, MA, CSCS,
1
Brad Schoenfeld, MSc, CSCS, NSCA-CPT,
2
Jonathan Mike, USAW, CSCS, NSCA-CPT,
3
Gul Tiryaki-Sonmez, PhD,
4
John Cronin, PhD,
5
and Elsbeth Vaino, BS, CSCS
6
1
Department of Sport Science, Auckland University of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand;
2
Department of Exercise
Science, Lehma n College, Bronx, New York;
3
University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico;
4
Department of
Health Science, City University of New York, Lehman College, Queens, New York;
5
Sports Performance Research
Institute, Auckland University of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand; and
6
Ottawa Osteopathy and Sports Therapy,
Ottawa, Canada
SUMMARY
THE PUSH-UP IS WIDELY USED BY
FITNESS PROFESSIONALS TO
DEVELOP UPPER-BODY
STRENGTH, POWER, AND LOCAL
MUSCULAR ENDURANCE.
ALTHOUGH THE LOAD DURING A
PUSH-UP IS LIMITED BY AN INDI-
VIDUAL’S BODYWEIGHT AND
ANTHROPOMETRY, MANY BIOME-
CHANICAL VARIATIONS OF THE
EXERCISE CAN BE PERFORMED.
THESE VARIATIONS MAY INVOLVE
ALTERING HAND AND FOOT POSI-
TIONS, WHICH IMPACTS MUSCLE
RECRUITMENT PATTERNS AND
JOINT STRESSES. THE IMPLICA-
TIONS OF THESE VARIATIONS MAY
BE OVERLOOKED WITH RESPECT
TO THE INDIVIDUAL NEEDS AND
GOALS OF THE CLIENT.
INTRODUCTION
T
he push-up has long been advo-
cated as a means to assess local
muscular endurance of the upper
body . A variety of timed and untimed
push-up tests are commonly employed
as part of a fitness assessment, and these
tests have been validated across a wide
range of populations (23). Moreover,
research shows a high correlation
between push-up ability and the number
of bench press repetitions performed as
a percentage of body weight (1), thus
providing an efficient and inexpensive
alternative to free weight testing.
In fitness settings, push-ups are widely
used to develop upper-body strength,
power, and muscular endurance. They
are staple exercises in fitness and gym
classes; they are used by strength and
conditioning professionals to train
athletes in sports such as baseball (10),
boxing (22), and martial arts (13), and
they play a prominent role in the basic
training programs of the U.S. Military
(18). Plyometric push-ups are consid-
ered essential for optimizing stretch-
shortening cycle–induced adaptations
for the upper body (21).
Although the load during a push-up is
limited by an individual’s bodyweight
and anthropometry, many biomechan-
ical variations of the exercise can be
performed to alter muscle activity by
providing either a lesser or greater
challenge to the target musculature.
These variations most often involve
altering hand and foot positions, which
impacts muscle recruitment patterns
and joint stresses (3,15). Other varia-
tions include using various implements
such as unstable surfaces, suspension
training devices, and specially designed
Copyright Ó National Strength and Conditioning Association Strength and Conditioning Journal | www.nsca-scj.com
41
push-up equipment. However, the
implications of these variations often
are not well understood with respect
to the individual needs and goals of
the client. Therefore, the purpose of
this column is 2-fold: first, to examine
the research pertaining to the biome-
chanical aspects of the push-up;
second, to make practical recommen-
dations for their application to exercise
performance.
THE BIOMECHANICS OF THE
PUSH-UP
The standard push-up requires a general
stiffening of the knee joints, hip joints,
pelvis,andspinetokeepthebodyin
a straight line from head to feet while
the shoulders and elbows flex and
extend to raise and lower the body
and the scapulae retract and protract
to facilitate glenohumeral range of
motion. Table 1 showcases biomechan-
ical data found in the literature regard-
ing the standard push-up exercise.
Push-ups can be performed with a mul-
titude of variations to bring about dif-
ferent muscular recruitment patterns.
The knee push-up shortens the lever,
which reduces bodyweight loading to
54% in the top position and 62% in the
bottom position (19) and substantially
reduces prime mover (9) and core mus-
culature requirements (11).
Perhaps the most popular variations
are achieved by altering hand position.
Although a number of potential hand
positions exist, the most common clas-
sifications include wide base (15 0%
shoulder width), normal base (shoul-
der width), and narrow base (50%
shoulder width) (9). It is commonly
believed that the wide base activates
the pectoralis major to a greater degree
than the other positions, whereas the
narrow base optimizes the activation of
the triceps brachii (8). This is consistent
with the basic principles of applied anat-
omy. Specifically, the pectoralis major is
a primary horizontal flexor, and flaring
the elbows would seemingly improve
the muscle’s length-tension relationship,
thereby facilitating its ability to generate
greater force (12). On the other hand,
a narrow base with the elbows held
close to the body would place the pec-
torals in a biomechanically disadvanta-
geous position, thus requiring greater
force output from the triceps brachii.
However, electromyographic (EMG)
studies evaluating muscle recruitment
patterns during push-up performance
Table 1
Biomechanical data pertaining to the standard push-up
Relative load 69% of bodyweight in top position (2)
75% of bodyweight in bottom
position (2)
Compressive spinal loading on L4/L5 1,838 N (1)
Prime mover mean muscle activation normalized to maximum voluntary contraction Pectoralis major 61% (1)
Triceps brachii 66% (1)
Anterior deltoid 42% (1)
Upper-body stabilizer and synergist muscle activation normalized to maximum voluntary
contraction
Latissimus dorsi 11% (1)
Biceps brachii 4% (1)
Posterior deltoid 17% (4)
Upper trapezius 45% (3)
Middle trapezius 18% (3)
Lower trapezius 27% (3)
Serratus anterior 56% (3)
Core muscle activation normalized to maximum voluntary contraction Psoas 24% (1)
External oblique 29% (1)
Internal oblique 10% (1)
Transverse abdominis 9% (1)
Rectus abdominis 29% (1)
Rectus femoris 10% (1)
Erector spinae 3% (1)
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VOLUME 34 | NUMBER 5 | OCTOBER 2012
42
suggest that narrow base push-ups not
only elicit greater activation of the tri-
ceps brachii compared with the wide
base position but also promote superior
activation of the sternal head of the pec-
toralis major as well (4,9).
What is not clear in these studies is
whether performance was carried out
in the transverse plane (i.e., elbows
flared) or the sagittal plane (i.e., elbow
close to the body). Contrary to popu-
lar belief, when the hands are placed in
a very narrow position, it tends to
encourage flaring of the elbows, orient-
ing movement into the transverse
plane. If these studies did indeed show
greater activity of the sternal head in
the sagittal plane, further research is
warranted to clarify the reason for this
apparent paradox. Moreover, given
that the clavicular head of the pector-
alis major is a primary shoulder flexor
(17), it can be theorized that push-ups
performed in the sagittal plane would
maximize the activity of this portion of
the muscle. To the authors’ knowledge,
this has yet to be investigated.
In addition, shifting the torso forward
or rearward relative to the hands
Figure 1. Standard push-up.
Figure 2. Upper-body suspended push-
up.
Figure 3. Between-bench push-up.
Figure 4. Self-assisted one-arm push-up.
Table 2
Push-up variations for novice, intermediate, and advanced exercisers
Novice variations Wall push-up
Torso-elevated push-up
Knee push-up
Intermediate
variations
Standard push-up (figure 1)
Wide base push-up
Narrow base push-up
Rapid countermovement push-up
Torso-shifted forward push-up
Torso-shifted rearward push-up
Feet-elevated push-up
Upper-body suspended push-up (e.g., TRX) (figure 2)
Hands on stability ball push-up Hands on BOSU ball push-up
Perfect Push-up
Handle grip push-up
Fall push-up (from knees)
Staggered base push-up
Alternating side-to-side push-up
One legged push-up
Between-bench push-up(figure 3)
Advanced variations Clapping push-up
Self-assisted one-arm push-up (figure 4)
One arm push-up
Weighted-vest push-up
Weighted push-up (plates on back)
Elastic band-resisted push-up (figure 5)
Chain push-up (draped over back) (figure 6)
Strength and Conditioning Journal | www.nsca-scj.com
43
affects the muscular recruitment pat-
terns. Shifting the torso forward relative
to the hands results in an increased pec-
toralis major activity and a decreased
triceps brachii activity compared with
the normal base position. Shifting the
torso rearward relative to the hands
results in slightly increased pectoralis
major and triceps brachii activity (9).
Foot position also is often al tered to
vary muscle recruitment. Recently,
Ebben e t a l. (5) assessed the peak ver-
tical ground reaction forces of push-
up variations including the standard
push-up and those performed from
the knees, with feet elevated on
a 30.5-cm box and a 61.0- cm box,
and with hands elevated on these
boxes. Push-ups with the feet ele-
vated produced a higher ground
reaction force than all other push-
up variations. When expressed as
a percentage of total body mass, the
order from least to greatest load pro-
gressed from the hands elevated on
a 61.0-cm box (41% of bodyw eight),
tothekneepush-up(49%),tothe
hands elevated on a 30.5-cm box
(55%), to the regular push-up (64%),
to the feet elevated on a 30.5-cm box
(70%), and finally to the feet elevated
on a 61.0-cm box (74%).
Another push-up variation involves
the use of unstable surfaces. Compared
with standard push-ups, BOSU (Hed-
strom Fitness, Ashland, Ohio) push-
ups have been shown to increase the
activity of some of the scapular stabil-
izers, namely, the upper, mid, and
lower trapezius fibers; however serratus
anterior activity was diminished (20).
Research by Lehman et al. (15) reported
that elevating the feet above the hands
had a greater stimulus on scapulothora-
cic stabilizing musculature than placing
the hands on an unstable surface (i.e.,
stability ball). From a training perspec-
tive, it is more challenging and demand-
ing for the shoulder girdle stabilizers to
perform push-ups with the feet elevated
on a bench and the hands on the
ground than to perform push-ups with
the hands on a stability ball and the feet
on the ground.
Lehman et al. (14) found that push-ups
with the hands placed on a stability ball
significantly increased the activation of
triceps brachii. Stability ball push-ups
also increased pectoralis major, rectus
abdominis, and external oblique activa-
tion compared with push-ups on
a bench from the same angle, whereas
push-ups with the feet placed on a sta-
bility ball did not affect muscle activity
compared with push-ups with the feet
on a bench from the same angle. In
addition, Marshall and Murphy (16)
showed that triceps brachii and
abdominal EMG activity was signifi-
cantly greater when performing push-
ups off stability balls compared with
stable surfaces from flat and elevated
positions. These results indicate that
the stability ball seems to only increase
the muscle activity during exercises
where the unstable surface is the pri-
mary base of support. From a muscle
activation standpoint, it therefore
appears to be more effective to perform
exercises such as stability ball and
BOSU push-ups in comparison with
stable surface push-ups as long as torso
angle remains constant and the hands
are placed on the unstable piece of
equipment rather than the feet.
Push-ups can also be performed with
suspension devices and implements
specially designed to facilitate changes
in hand positions. Beach et al. (2)
showed that suspended push-ups acti-
vated more core musculature than
standard push-ups. One such device,
the B OSU Perfect Push-up, is pur-
ported to be biomechanica lly engi-
neered to achieve better results from
push-up workouts. The efficacy of this
claim was investigat ed by Youd as et al.
(24) who used EMG to evaluate the
muscle activity in the Perfect Push-up
versus standard push-ups. Muscle
activation was evaluated during the
performance of push-ups using 3 dif-
ferent hand positions: normal base,
wide base, and narrow base. The
muscles studied included the tri ceps
brachii, pectoralis major, serratus
anterior, and posterior deltoids. Anal-
ysis of EM G f ailed to show any sig-
nificant differences between the
groups, leading researchers to con-
clude that Perfect Push-up handgrips
do not seem to increase the muscular
recruitment when compared with the
standard push-ups.
Finally, speed of movement can be
altered to change push-up biomechan-
ics. Explosive push-ups have been com-
pared in terms of peak force, rate of
force development, and peak impact
force. Garcia-Masso et al. (7) examined
the fall push-up (an explosive push-up
starting from a tall-kneeling position,
falling to a knee push-up position, and
returning to the tall-kneeling position),
jump push-up (an explosive push-up
starting from standard position, where
the upper body leaves the ground and
becomes airborne before returning to
standard position), and countermove-
ment push-up (a rapid push-up
Figure 5. Elastic band-resisted push-up.
Figure 6. Chain push-up (draped over
back).
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VOLUME 34 | NUMBER 5 | OCTOBER 2012
44
characterized by fast eccentric, reversal,
and concentric phases but does not
involve leaving the ground) and found
that the countermovement push-up,
which was performed with maximal
speed, exhibited the highest peak force
and rate of force development. Given
that this is the only variation that does
not encounter impact forces, it appears
that the countermovement push-up is
a safe and effective choice for explosive
variations if one wishes to maximize the
aspects of upper-body power. Clapping
push-ups have been shown to outper-
form standard, slow eccentric, 1 hand
on medicine ball, staggered hands,
hands on 2 balls, 2 hands on 1 ball, rapid
countermovement, 1 arm, and alternat-
ing plyometric push-up variations in
pectoralis major and triceps brachii
activity (6). Advanced forms of plyo-
metric push-ups could be problematic
for individuals with back issues, given
that an alternating plyometric push-up
using a medicine ball has been shown to
induce 6,224 N of compressive forces on
the lumbar spine (6).
Additional alterations can be employed
to decrease or increase the challenging
nature of the exercise. For example, wall
push-ups (leaning forward with hands
against the wall) and knee push-ups
(knees on the floor) are appropriate
for those with limited upper-body
strength, whereas push-ups using 1
arm or 1 leg can make the movement
sufficiently challenging even for those
who are highly fit. Furthermore,
a weighted vest, elastic bands, chains,
and/or various unstable implements
can be employed to further challenge
the upper-body musculature. Table 2
illustrates some push-up variations, cat-
egorized into the levels of difficulty.
CONCLUSION
Push-ups can be an excellent exercise
for improving muscle strength and
endurance. It is imperative that practi-
tioners possess adequate knowledge of
push-up variations to optimize the
challenge on the target musculature
without compromising proper form
and risking injury. The biomechanical
information contained herein can
serve as a guideline to prescribe proper
progressions and regressions to
achieve desired outcomes.
Bret Contreras is a practicing strength
coach and is currently pursuing his PhD
at AUT University.
Brad Schoenfeld is a lecturer in the
exercise science program at CUNY
Lehman College and a doctoral student
at Rocky Mountain University.
Jonathan Mike is a doctoral candidate
in exercise physiology at the University of
New Mexico.
Gul Tiryaki-Sonmez is an associate
professor in the department of health
science at CUN Y Lehman College and
program director of their exercise science
program.
John Cronin is a Professor in Strength
and Conditioning at AUT University,
NZ and an Adjunct Professor at Edith
Cowan University.
Elsbeth Vaino is a strength and con-
ditioning consultant and personal trainer.
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... In the standard push-up execution, pectoralis major, triceps brachii and anterior deltoid muscles work as primary mover, serratus anterior and upper trapezius include five or more muscles works as stabilizers and synergists. In addition to these, including the rectus abdominis and external oblique muscles are involved as core muscles [4]. There are many separately important reasons why push-up exercise is popular, and it has wide usage. ...
... In the same study, highest maximum vertical force and average vertical force was found statistically significant and higher than the other five versions of push-up 297.3 ± 92 N and 133.2 ± 42.2 N in the normal position, respectively. Previous studies also showed that relative load of push-up 69% of BW in top, 75% of BW in bottom and 49% of BW in knees bent position [4,5]. Wang et al. [13] found the peak ground reaction forces (GRF) (from 120% to 121% BW) in the ballistic push-ups. ...
Article
Full-text available
Study aim This study was aimed to analysis in detail how different tempos [2:0:2 (30 bpm), 1:0:1 (60 bpm), Explosive (EXP)] effect to ground reaction forces (vGRF) and joint kinematics of push-up exercise (PUP). Material and methods Twenty-four recreationally male athletes (age: 24.9 ± 3.6 years) participated in this study. Kinetic and kinematic data were obtained by load-cells and a motion analysis software. Data was analysed from a single repetition which is showed peak vGRF of dominant side during PUP. Joint velocities were calculated by taking the difference between the descent and ascent phases. Results There was significant difference between 2:0:2 (30 bpm) – EXP in terms of dominant side of shoulder (p ≤ 0.02) and between 1:0:1 (60 bpm) – EXP in the dominant elbow joint displacements (p ≤ 0.05). The velocity differences between the descent and ascent phases of shoulder and elbow joints were found statistically significant between tempos (p ≤ 0.05). In terms of range of motion (ROM) of right and left side, there was significant differences between tempos (p ≤ 0.001). No significant differences were found between all tempos in the ascent phase of right-left and left descent phase in terms of average vGRF (p > 0.05) except right descent average vGRF (p ≤ 0.02). Conclusions In conclusion, right-left sides of ROM was used most effectively in 2:0:2 (30 bpm) and 1:0:1 (60 bpm) tempos. Less displacement was also observed in EXP and when tempo increased percentage of peak vGRF (at elbow flexion phase for right-left sides) to total repetition decreased. Highest ascent and descent phase velocity differences (for right-left sides) and highest peak vGRF (elbow flexion phase) observed in EXP. This study shows that increasing tempo will result in more unsteady joint kinematics and more vGRF, so if the goal is controlled and safe PUP, tempo should be slow.
... Penelitian lain pun mengatakan bahwa push up dapat meningkatkan kekuatan dan daya tahan otot. Sangat perlu sekali bagi para peneliti untuk memiliki pengetahuan tentang variasi push up agar dapat mengoptimalkan otot mana yang akan dilatih dengan gerakan push up dengan pertimbangan cedera yang dialami (Contreras et al., 2012). ...
... Hal ini memperlihatkan bahwa push up tubing memperlihatkan peningkatan daya tahan otot lengan. Penelitian terdahulu mengatakan bahwa latihan push up dapat ditingkatkan pada daya tahan otot terutama lengan, dada, dan bahu (Contreras et al., 2012). Penelitian terdahulu mengatakan bahwa push up tubing untuk melatih pada bagian otot dada (chest), bahu bagian depan (anterior deltoid/shoulder), dan triceps (Knopf, 2013). ...
... For this reason, during the plus phase of the KPUP, the weight load of the upper extremity is distributed to the hands, elbows, and shoulders, whereas during the plus phase of the MV3PS exercise, the weight load is believed to be concentrated on the elbow and shoulder joints, increasing the need for shoulder muscles to be used. Contreras et al. found that the percentage of body mass supported by changes in moment arm flexion during push-ups was 75% in the down position and 69% in the up position [31]. Therefore, it is believed that the MV3PS exercise requires greater force in a position relatively closer to the floor than the KPUP, and the increased difficulty of the task may have led to higher core muscle activity. ...
Article
Full-text available
Selective serratus anterior (SA) strengthening without compensatory movement of the shoulder stabilizers is essential for shoulder stability and functional movement without causing shoulder injury and dysfunction. The purpose of this study was to compare electromyographic (EMG) activity between the SA, upper trapezius (UT), lower trapezius (LT), and pectoralis major (PM) during the knee push-up plus (KPUP) and modified Vojta’s 3-point support (MV3PS) exercises. Scapular stabilizer muscle activity (UT, LT, SA, and PM) was investigated during the KPUP and MV3PS exercises in 40 healthy adults (19 males, 21 females) using surface EMG. Muscle activity of the SA was significantly higher during the MV3PS exercise than during the KPUP (p < 0.05). However, muscle activity in the PM was significantly lower during the MV3PS exercise (p < 0.05). In addition, the LT and UT showed less muscle activity during the MV3PS exercise, although the difference was not statistically significant (p > 0.05). These findings suggest that the MV3PS exercise better activates the SA than KPUP.
... 6 Changing the push-up position can affect the abdominal and vertebral muscles and lumbar angle and load. 7 Also, it's been suggested that instead of the standard push-up, using different devices for push-ups can better improve upper extremity and core muscles of the body. 8,9 It is valuable for athletes where strength training is essential, especially army professionals, bodybuilders and for many other individuals who are either recouping from any type of injury or wish to attain a certain level of fitness. ...
... A better performance in 1RM arms press was associated with a more aligned posture of thoracic and lumbar spines. Upper body press activities require adequate scapular arthrokinematics to facilitate glenohumeral range of motion and force generation [31]. A thoracic hyperkyphosis linked to a lumbar hyperlordosis posture can result in excessive protraction of the scapula together with internal rotation of the glenohumeral joint, leading to the loss of normal arthrokinematics and detriment of functional capacity [32]. ...
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Background Childhood obesity is known to negatively impact on body posture with severe consequences to the musculoskeletal system. Physical performance could play a positive role in the body posture conformation of these children, but there is little evidence to date. Research Question Is physical performance (i.e., physical fitness and functional movement) associated with a better body posture in children with overweight/obesity (OW/OB)? If so, is physical performance more determinant than their obesity degree in the body posture conformation? Method A total of 62 children with OW/OB (10.86 ± 1.25 years, 58% girls) were included. BMI, physical fitness components (one repetition maximum-1RM- arms and leg press, and ALPHA test battery), functional movement quality (Functional Movement ScreenTM), and body posture (two-dimensional photogrammetry) were evaluated. Results BMI was associated with head protraction, thoracic hyperkyphosis, lumbar hyperlordosis and lower limb valgus. Physical fitness components and functional movement were overall associated with a more aligned posture of the head, lumbar and thoracic spines, and lower limb. BMI was the best predictor of head and lumbar spine posture, cardiorespiratory fitness of lower limb posture in frontal plane, speed-agility of lower limb posture in sagittal plane and functional movement of thoracic spine. Significance Our findings reveal that physical fitness and functional movement are associated with a better global body posture in children with OW/OB, and that in some musculoskeletal structures are even more determinant than their obesity degree.
... It is suggested that push-ups are more similar to a decline bench press leading to a shorter moment arm and limited range of motion (Eckel et al., 2017). Due to the changes in moment arm flexion during a push-up, the amount of mass that has to be supported would change from 69% in the up position to 75% in the down position (Contreras et al., 2012). These changes were also similar to the results of this study where the participants supported 66% of their body mass in the top position compared to 72% in the down position. ...
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A 33-year-old male presented with bilateral radial head fractures after weighted prone push-up exercise. The patient had Mason type I and II on right and left sides, respectively. He was managed conservatively with limited immobilisation and early range of motion exercises. The fracture healed and patient had no complaints at the last follow-up of 13 months. Bilateral radial head fracture is rare with push-up exercise, and can be successfully treated conservatively with immobilisation and early rehabilitation. Although push-up exercises are an excellent workout with known benefits, unusual modifications of standard techniques should be avoided.
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The bench press and pushup are commonly used for training upper body muscular strength and endurance. Although they are often used interchangeably, differences between the two relative to body mass load are unknown. Furthermore, sex differences may exist due to anthropometric body mass specificity. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the relationship between the pushup and bench press when performing repetitions to failure with an equated load. On day 1, 25 recreationally trained subjects (16 men, age = 23.00 ± 2.36 years, height = 178.19 ± 9.61 cm, mass = 74.80 ± 13.44 kg; 9 women, age = 23.11 ± 2.71 years, height = 160.78 ± 5.95 cm, mass = 53.63 ± 5.60 kg), performed a one repetition maximum bench press and an isometric pushup on a force plate to determine bodyweight load supported in both the up and down positions. Grip width on the bench press was measured as the distance between middle fingers and was used for hand placement during pushups. For the down position, a safety squat device was placed on the right triceps to signal that the upper arms were parallel to the ground, while for the up position, triceps were perpendicular to the floor. Days 2 and 3 consisted of performing repetitions to failure for either the bench press or pushup exercise with a load that was equal to the average relative bodyweight force of the up and down pushup positions. For the pushup, subjects followed a 60 beats per minute tempo and the test was terminated if they failed to complete a full repetition; they could not maintain cadence or there were three faults in form. For the bench press, they followed the same 60 s tempo and the test was terminated if they failed to complete a full repetition or could not maintain cadence. A 2 (exercise: bench press, pushup) × 2 (sex: men, women) mixed factor ANOVA demonstrated no interaction, but there were significant (P < 0.05) main effects for exercise and sex where more repetitions were performed in the pushup (19.36 ± 11.68 reps) than the bench press (11.40 ± 8.38 reps) exercise. Also, men performed significantly more repetitions to failure (men =20.22 ± 8.20 reps, women = 6.78 ± 5.69 reps). For combined sexes, there was a significant (P < 0.05), strong relationship (r = 0.82) between bench press and pushup repetitions to failure. For men, there was a significant (P < 0.05), strong relationship (r = 0.81), while for women, there was a moderate relationship (r = 0.76). Men had significantly (P < 0.05) greater bench press one repetition maximum (men = 99.29 ± 23.98 kg, women = 42.17 ± 8.88 kg), percentage of body mass supported as an average of the up and down positions (men = 74.33 ± 2.57%, women = 69.70 ± 2.63%) and bench press one repetition maximum relative to their body mass (men = 1.32 ± 0.22%, women = 0.79 ± 0.13%). The bench press and pushup are two distinct upper body exercises for repetitions to failure due to upper body musculature and body position sex differences. Choice of the pushup or bench press exercise should be based on training goal and sex.
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THE EXERCISE TECHNIQUE FOR THE PUSH-UP USING 2 DIFFERENT LOADING STYLES IS DESCRIBED AND DEMONSTRATED IN THIS COLUMN. SEVERAL PROGRESSIONS AND VARIATIONS FOR THIS EXERCISE ARE ALSO DISCUSSED.
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MIXED MARTIAL ARTS (MMA) IS AN EXCITING AND COMPLEX SPORT THAT COMBINES THE TECHNIQUES OF BOXING, MUAY THAI KICKBOXING, AND VARIOUS GRAPPLING DISCIPLINES SUCH AS GRECO-ROMAN WRESTLING, FREESTYLE WRESTLING, AND BRAZILIAN JIU-JITSU. MMA IS A PHYSIOLOGICALLY DEMANDING SPORT. IT CAN POTENTIALLY CHALLENGE AND TAX ALL OF THE ENERGY SYSTEMS, AND THE POSSIBILITY OF OVERREACHING/OVERTRAINING IS A CONCERN. TO DATE, THERE IS LIMITED PEER-REVIEWED RESEARCH EXAMINING THE OPTIMAL TRAINING METHODS FOR AN ATHLETE COMPETING IN MMA. THE PURPOSE OF THIS REVIEW IS TO DISCUSS SOME OF THE AVAILABLE PEER-REVIEWED RESEARCH SURROUNDING THIS SPORT AND PROVIDE GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS FOR THE STRENGTH AND CONDITIONING SPECIALISTS.
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Background: It has been hypothesized that a period of rest from running in the early weeks of basic military training will prevent stress fractures among recruits.Design: Modification of running schedules in companies of Army recruits undergoing basic military training was assigned.Setting/ Participants: Six male training companies were enrolled and followed during their 8 weeks of basic military training at Fort Bliss, Texas, in summer/fall 1989.Intervention: Intervention companies were asked to rest from running during the second, third, or fourth week of basic military training.Main outcome measures: Data were collected from questionnaires, anthropometric measurements, Army physical fitness tests, company training logs, and medical record abstraction of all clinic visits.Results: Among the 1357 enrolled male recruits, there were 236 (17%) with overuse injury and 144 (11%) with traumatic injury, resulting in 535 clinic visits and 1927 training days lost. Stress fracture/reaction rates varied from 3 to 8 per 100 recruits among the intervention companies and 2 to 7 per 100 recruits among the non-intervention companies. Total injury rates were 18 to 35 per 100 recruits in the intervention companies and 18 to 29 per 100 recruits in the non-intervention companies.Conclusions: The study provided no evidence for a protective effect on overuse injuries of resting from running for 1 week early in basic military training. There was varied physical training among the companies, however, with variation of injury rates that likely related to factors other than the intervention.
When executing a push-up an individual lowers the body to a down position and then raises it to an up position. A down position often used in recent years is a 90° angle at the elbows (90° push-up) as in FITNESSGRAM. Several researchers have found the interscorer objectivity and stability reliability for 90° push-up scores to be low. The purpose of this study was to (a) estimate the interscorer objectivity and stability reliability for scores from a revised push-up test protocol and (b) obtain evidence concerning the validity of interpretations based on revised push-up test scores. Interscorer objectivity was estimated for a score of one scorer and stability reliability was estimated for a score obtained on 1 day. Four studies were conducted. In the first study, pilot study, the revised push-up test protocol was developed and refined. In the second study, objectivity study, the push-up test was administered once to 49 female and 31 male college-aged students. Two scorers independently scored each student. Interscorer objectivity coefficients of·75 for women and ·88 for men were obtained. In the third study, objectivity and reliability study, the push-up test was administered on each of 2 days to 89 female and 63 male college-aged students. Two scorers independently scored each student on each day. Interscorer objectivity coefficients of ·97 and ·95 for women and ·98 and ·99 for men were obtained. Stability reliability coefficients of ·90 and ·93 for women and ·95 and ·95 for men were obtained. In the fourth study, validity study, validity was estimated using a logical approach, group difference approach, and criterion approach. There were 58 male and 48 female college students in the validity study. The revised push-up test protocol is very similar to protocols presently used and as expected the men scored significantly (p < .01) better than the women on the revised push-up test. The correlation between revised push-up scores and number of bench press executions with a percentage of the body weight was·80 for women and ·87 for men. The interscorer objectivity and stability reliability coefficients are very acceptable. Sufficient validity evidence was provided that the revised push-up scores relate to the amount of arm and shoulder girdle strength and endurance a person has to move the body weight.
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The purpose of this study was to compare dynamic pushup (DPU) and plyometric push-up (PPU) training programs on 2 criterion measures: (a) the distance achieved on a sitting, 2-handed medicine ball put, and (b) the maximum weight for 1 repetition of a sitting, 2-handed chest press. Thirty-five healthy women completed 18 training sessions over a 6-week period, with training time and repetitions matched for the DPU (n = 17) and PPU (n = 18) groups. Dynamic push-ups were completed from the knees, using a 2-second-up-2-second-down cadence. Plyometric push-ups were also completed from the knees, with the subjects allowing themselves to fall forward onto their hands and then propelling themselves upward and back to the starting position, with 1 push-up completed every 4 seconds. The PPU group experienced significantly greater improvements than the DPU group on the medicine ball put (p = 0.03). There was no significant difference between groups for the chest press, although the PPU group experienced greater increases. (C) 2000 National Strength and Conditioning Association
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The revised push-up test has been found to have good validity but it produces many zero scores for women. Maybe there should be an alternative to the revised push-up test for college-age women. The purpose of this study was to determine the objectivity, reliability, and validity for the bent-knee push-up test (executed on hands and knees) for college-age women and to determine the relationship between the revised push-up test (executed on hands and toes) and bent-knee push-up test scores. College-age women (N = 87) participated in this study. The bent-knee push-up test was administered to all the participants the 1st day. Two raters were used to determine interscorer objectivity for approximately half of the participants. On the 2nd day, half the participants did the bent-knee push-up test again to determine stability reliability of the scores. The other half of the participants were administered the revised push-up test. On the 3rd day of testing, all participants were administered the bench press test using 40% of their body weight to determine the criterion validity for both of the push-up tests. The interscorer objectivity coefficient for the bent-knee push-up scores was .997. A stability reliability coefficient of .83 was obtained. The correlation between the bent-knee push-up and revised push-up scores was .75. The correlation between the bent-knee push-up and bench press scores was .67. The correlation between the revised push-up and bench press scores was .68. Both tests appear effective, however, the bent-knee test is probably more appropriate with lower strength level college-age women.
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Push-ups are a common and practical exercise that is used to enhance fitness, including upper body strength or endurance. The kinetic characteristics of push-ups and its variations are yet to be quantified. Kinetic quantification is necessary to accurately evaluate the training load, and thus the nature of the training stimulus, for these exercise variations. This study assessed the peak vertical ground reaction forces (GRFs) of push-up variations including the regular push-up and those performed with flexed knee, feet elevated on a 30.48-cm box, and a 60.96-cm box, and hands elevated on a 30.48-cm box and a 60.96-cm box. Twenty-three recreationally fit individuals (14 men, 9 women) performed each of the 6 push-up variations in a randomized order. Peak GRF and peak GRF expressed as a coefficient of subject body mass were obtained with a force platform. Push-ups with the feet elevated produced a higher GRF than all other push-up variations (p ≤ 0.05). Push-ups with hands elevated and push-ups from the flexed knee position produced a lower GRF than all other push-up variations (p ≤ 0.05). No gender differences in response to these push-up variations were found (p > 0.05). Additionally, subject height was not related to the GRF for any of the push-up conditions (p > 0.05) other than the condition where hands were elevated on a 60.96-cm box (p ≤ 0.05; r = 0.63). These data can be used to progress the intensity of push-ups in a program and to quantify the training load as a percentage of body mass.
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Since most previous reports of EMG activation profiles from psoas and the abdominal wall have been qualitative, the objective of this work was to document myoelectric activity from these deep muscles. This knowledge is required to assist in choosing specific training exercises and for making rehabilitation decisions that require knowledge of normalized and calibrated muscle activation levels in different tasks. Intramuscular EMG was collected from five men and three women, in whom amplitudes were normalized to maximum contraction efforts and reported over a wide variety of clinical and rehabilitation tasks. Electrodes were inserted into vertebral portions of psoas and the three layers of the abdominal wall. Normalized signal amplitudes were reported as peak levels and time histories. All forms of sit-ups activated psoas (15-35% MVC) more than the curl-up (<10%); psoas was not highly activated during barbell lifting of loads up to 100 kg (< 16% MVC); psoas was most active during maximal hip flexion efforts; push-ups activated psoas up to 25% MVC. Several isometric abdominal exercises were evaluated using the criteria of maximizing abdominal activation while minimizing psoas activity: the side (bridge) support exercise proved the best training method for the abdominal wall. Consideration of deep muscle activity, provided in this report, is important for choosing the most appropriate rehabilitation and training program for an individual. Specific guidance is provided for choosing the best abdominal exercise, together with activation profiles during lifting, during twisting, and during hip rotation.