Wisdom of the Week- The Do's and Dont's of Scaling the Push-Up
What's up guys, Marc here to drop some wisdom on you in this whole push-up discussion. Last week, Aimee wrote to you all talking about good push up technique. This week I wanted to write a post real quick talking about what to keep in mind as you try and scale your push-ups in a workout. What should you do? What shouldn't you do? And why?
Whenever you consider scaling ANY movement, you always want to make sure you keep a few things in mind. The BIGGEST point to think about first is midline stabilization. It doesn't matter if you are talking about a handstand push-up, a squat, or a snatch, as an athlete you always always always want to maintain stability in the midline. In short, that means no arching of the back. The core should always remain tight and squeezed with the rib cage down. This is a fundamental aspect of any movement covered in the CrossFit Level 1 seminar, and it is the golden rule.
Many gyms will allow athletes to use a break of the midline (also known as worming) as means of completing a push-up, because the athlete doesn't have the strength to complete the push-up properly. I would caution all athletes to avoid this scale, as an athlete will develop pushing strength at a much faster rate than core stability strength. An athlete who follows this path will struggle to perform strict push-ups correctly due to the weaker midline, making them less efficient. We want strength to grow together to keep us safe, stable, and moving strong.
So now that the midline is out of the way, check that off the list first and foremost. The other thing you need to remember, and something that Wisdom of the Week harps on consistently, is utilizing a scale through the FULL RANGE IF MOTION. In this case we are talking about an athlete starting with their arms completely locked out, lowering their chest all the way until it is contacting the ground, and then pushing all the way back to lock out again. This can be very difficult for many people, and is typically the reason for scaling in the first place.
It is absolutely ESSENTIAL that an athlete uses a scale that provides full range of motion. If the chest is not traveling all the way to the ground, strength will not build through the whole range of motion. If an athlete can't do this, it is best to scale the angle of the push-up with a box, a bench, or the knees. Using a plate or an abmat to lessen the range of motion is not nearly as effective, because to hinder the range of motion is to neglect strengthening of the whole movement. This will bring about deficiencies in movement later down the road, and is best avoided all together in place of appropriate scale.
These two keys to success are simple, but you would be surprised how many scales out there don't meet this particular code of conduct. In fitness you can't cut corners, and you must always start with basic strength development. Doing the common uncommonly well is a classic phrase in our sport, and it shouldn't be forgotten. To see some scales that will take you through full range of motion while maintaining midline stability, look no further than the VoyEdge RX blog over the next few weeks. Try these out and have a blast!
Shoot any questions to me at firstname.lastname@example.org, Il be happy to help you out!
Happy pushing! Hope to see you on our incredible Northern Italy & Switzerland trip!