EYC Podcast #8 Text Breakdown
The Importance of the Close Push-Up in a Progressive Routine
*The supplemental article is found here.
It’s a very important exercise that acts as a transition to more advanced exercises like uneven and unilateral variations. For myself, it’s the pushup variation that I spent the most time on to date, and with great results. It is an exercise that I still, and always will incorporate into my routines, just like the standard pushup because you can always find ways to make it more difficult, whether it is increasing volume, adding explosiveness, using a platform to elevate the feet, or bringing one foot off the ground during your repetitions. It’s also a matter of the fundamentals and always keeping them polished.
At the beginning, I found I was mixing close pushups and regular pushups a lot, and that really helped me progress. I’d do 4 sets of standard pushups, then the last set I would do close pushups and as I progressed, increased the number of sets of close pushups.
It’s likely that anyone in the midst of a progressive push-up routine will find it challenging, and that’s because it incorporates and important change, which is shifting more weight onto the triceps.
Regarding difficulty, it’s important to keep in mind that methods used to regress an exercise can generally be used at any point in an overall progression. For example, incorporating an incline is a good way to ease people into regular pushups, however it can also work really well with the close pushup, so keep that in mind if you are finding the close pushup exceedingly difficult. You can also mix it up, for example, use an incline while bringing your hands side by side, or no incline with your hands further apart. Using methods like this to regress is also a good way to keep things fresh, and reinforce the feeling of progression in your workouts. Furthermore, an incline is also an awesome way to warm-up to the workout you are targeting
A close push-up really is any hand positioning in which the hands are closer than shoulder-width apart. It’s when this occurs that more weight is placed on the triceps, making the exercise more difficult. The good thing is you can gradually work your hands inward in order to progress. You don’t have to go right from standard pushups to your hands being side by side which can also help in making the whole experience less daunting.
The importance of the exercise lies in the slow shift of more weight onto the triceps. If you are looking to move onto more advanced exercises like uneven pushups, lever pushups, or unilateral variations, it’s crucial to have a highly developed close push-up. However you can also do very well by stopping at the close push-up. I remember watching videos of Hannibal for King, and he mentioned that he only does close push-ups, with slight variations, and he’s an absolute beast. So, stick with what you like to do.
Above I mentioned using an incline variation to regress the close push-up, but there are a few more worth mentioning. The lever can be shortened, so you can rest on the knees instead of the feet. The range of motion can be decreased. I myself am not a huge fan of decreasing the range of motion no matter what I do – I prefer maximizing the range of motion, while using other methods to regress because it’s all about stimulating the muscles at all points in the range of motion. For example, I’d rather be able to complete a full set of close pushups with my hands at a wider position, than bring my hands side-to-side and only be able to perform limited range reps.
As for hand placement, I’ve always done the diamond shape, which is why you sometimes hear the exercise called “diamond pushups” – others keep the thumb against the hand which is perfectly fine. Do what is comfortable for you.
*The supplemental article is found here.
Technical considerations are very important because they help approach what is to be considered the “ideal” way to execute the movement. It maximizes muscle contraction and allows us to perform the exercise in a safe and effective way. Often times, injuries occur when proper technique is not maintained and can indicate that the exercise is too difficult at the moment. Ideal technique will make the exercise more difficult so it’s a good idea to regress the exercise in order to build the necessary strength for progression. That being said, when you begin to perform more difficult variations it’s unlikely that your technique will be perfect, which is ok, because striving for ideal technique is a progression in itself. Just be sure to always approach the exercise in a safe way to avoid injury. If the exercise is too hard, regress, there is certainly no shame in that. What I’ve found with calisthenics is that it’s pretty difficult to injure yourself. The possibility is certainly still there if you are careless, but I found when I was training with weights, I think I pushed myself a little too much, especially when it came to deadlifts. With calisthenics, when you can’t perform an exercise, you simply can’t do it.
So some of the considerations regarding technique are as follows:
- Tense the Body and Contract the Core – it stabilizes the body, it allows for greater muscle recruitment and power during the exercise
- Maintain Focus and Spacial Awareness – this refers to the idea of being in the moment and focused on how you are executing the movements – distractions can suck the life out of a workout – it’s also about being aware of your surroundings and where your body is going
- Keep the Back Straight(where applicable) and Scapula Retracted – it complements keeping the core contracted and helps keep proper posture – similarly keeping the scapula retracted promotes maximal muscle contraction and will help improve posture
- Understand Limb Placement and Function – important to understand limb placement because it can help or hinder the exercise – it forces understanding of technique for execution of the desired exercise – you could be making an exercise harder or easier than intended
- Control the Neck – important to prevent strain or discomfort on the cervical spine and encourages proper alignment during exercise
- Generally, speeding a technique up will make the exercise easier due to momentum, while slowing it down will demand greater endurance and so increase difficulty.
- Always be willing to regress an exercise to build greater strength – comes down to having patience