EYC Podcast #11 Text Breakdown
The Hinge Pushup
The hinge push-up is one of my favourite push-up variations, and an awesome way to add more variety to your routine. For me, it came about at a time where I began working on uneven pushup variations, and more advanced dip exercises. I really wanted to find a way to work the long head to a greater degree, similar to skull crushers, or tricep extensions, so I could ultimately work toward the tiger-bend push up, which is an exercise that I am still quite far off from, but also one that I will perform one day. It’s a source of huge motivation for me to perform that exercise one day, using clean technique, and the hinge push-up is one more step toward it.
Beforehand, you want to make sure that you are properly warmed up, and this of course applies to whatever exercise you are doing. I usually do a couple sets of both standard and close pushups. If I’m combining them with a dip routine, I’ll sub out the close pushups and warm up with dips. You also want to make sure that your wrists are nice and rolled out, and the forearms are warm. If you are near a bar, bar hangs are also a great way to warm up. This is important, especially if the hinge pushup is new to you. Hinge push-ups will engage the wrists in a new way so you want to make sure that they are nice and warm to prevent injury or discomfort.
Essentially, the hinge push-up starts in the regular push-up position, however it is a good idea to keep the elbows toward the body to keep emphasis on the triceps. Moving the hands farther apart will cause the elbows to flare out, which moves the emphasis to the chest, shoulders, and lats. I found this variation uncomfortable on the elbows and shoulders, especially if you have limited mobility in your shoulders, so it’s something to be conscious of in your own training. Listen to your body, and don’t force anything. Furthermore, you want to maintain an engaged core, a straight back, and the scapula, aka the shoulder blades, retracted. One thing about the starting position for the hinge pushup that differs from the regular, is the toes. It’s a good idea to have the toes pointed out slightly to accommodate for the range of motion when transitioning down onto the forearms. The body moves back slightly so you want to make sure that the full range of motion isn’t hindered by toe placement.
So far, we’ve discussed the starting position of the hinge push-up, and now we’ll get into the full execution of the movement. From the starting position, you are performing the movement just as you would a regular pushup, with the elbows close to the body, however at the bottom of the movement, with the chest hovering above the ground and the upper arms more or less parallel to the ground(depending on length of arms), you then shift your weight back so the forearms touch the ground. From this position, the body moves forward as you bring the elbows up, and push back to the starting position. During this, you want to keep the core engaged, and the back straight. You also want to ensure that the elbow is traveling in as straight a line as possible along the body, during the transition. This is a good time to discuss some things that you may notice while performing the movement.
As I’ve mentioned in previous podcasts, looseness in technique when beginning a new variation is not necessarily a bad thing, as long as you aren’t compromising safety, and you are constantly striving to improve that technique. That being said, if you are completely scrapping technique in order to perform a shoddy version of the movement, you are better off regressing, and building up greater strength. Furthermore, if you are noticing a tendency to use a stronger side to complete a movement, for example, if you are finding you are pulling harder with your right side on pullups, it could be a good idea to focus on an easier variation to build strength as symmetrically as possible. In regards to the hinge pushup, I want to discuss a couple things you may notice when you are in the beginning stages of training this movement.
The two main things you want to pick up on are how you are shifting your weight, and your elbow positioning. In regards to shifting your weight, you may have the urge to use your feet to help you back up from your forearms. You also may use the momentum of your body to do the same thing. You want to limit this as much as possible in order to maintain control and form during the exercise. Doing these types of things will likely cause you to lose your form, so that’s something to keep in mind as well. Something else that may occur is flaring out of the elbows, or the elbow of a weaker side. This causes the chest and lats to help out. If you find you are collapsing onto the forearms, or unable to get back up to the pushup position, it may be a good idea to further strengthen the triceps, chest, and shoulders. Or, you can complete the movement there, by stopping on your forearms, and restarting. You can also regress by shortening the lever to your knees, however this requires a slippery surface to allow the knees to slide as your are performing the movement, so that’s something to keep in mind. Similar to standard pushups, you can perform incline hinge pushups, however you will likely require a flat surface in order to perform the movement, as opposed to a bar which can be used for standard incline pushups.
The primary ways that I built the strength for hinge pushups were close pushups, uneven pushups, and dips. I also did a lot of tricep extensions using a low bar. Most importantly, you want to ensure that you have a solid base of pushups(especially with the elbows tucked in), and close pushups. With the more advanced exercises I mentioned above, greater emphasis is placed on the long head of the triceps which helped me build the necessary strength. There are many different ways to do so, and it’s all about experimenting and having fun with the exercises you enjoy. You can learn a little more about the close push up in an article that is on my website. It will offer some insight into working on the close push up, so you can in turn, work towards the hinge pushup. At the PCC, the progressive calisthenics certification, the century test, which acts as the final test, you are required to perform 40 squats, 30 pushups, 20 knee raises, and 10 pull-ups. This is a good base to have for pushups to ensure you are keeping a solid foundation in the fundamentals, and build confidence in order to attempt more difficult variations
As a final note, check out the website for photos of some of the exercises you can use to build up the necessary strength, as well as photos of the hinge push-up in action. You can also check out the Facebook page for video on the hinge pushup and some more difficult variations.