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Strength Training Tips: Squeezing More Out of the Push Up

By Paul Langhorst on 10/7/2015

The push up is one of the oldest forms of strength training on the books.  Chad Estes, who is an area sales representative for Engage Sports and also a football coach and trainer, recently published an article on YouthFootballOnline.com on how to squeeze more results out of the push up.  Here is an excerpt...read the full article at: http://youthfootballonline.com/squeezing-more-out-of-the-push-up

As youth coaches we are often faced with very limited time in order to accomplish those things that we know will make our teams better.  Helping our players get stronger is one of them.

Strength is a Skill

Strength is the skill of generating muscular tension.  Because of this, training should be approached as ‘practice’, not a ‘workout’.  This is an important distinction.

In this article I will address how to ‘squeeze’ more out of the tried and true push-up, as well as how you might instruct your players to use it to their benefit.  The push-up is often a go-to exercise for coaches – and I believe that doing a better job coaching it will result in greater strength gains for our kids.


We can provide cues, both verbally as well as sensory, that will enable them to learn how to contract their muscles harder.  Contracting their muscles harder creates more tension, thus creating more force.

One of the most important skills of generating tension is ‘staying tight’.  Any sort of emphasis on speed compromises that tension, so say ‘No’ to encouraging fast repetitions with this program.   How do we instruct out kids to stay tight?  I use the two handed plank to teach it initially.  

Proper Push Up Techniques

Figure 1 – Note the straight line from the heels to the crown of the head.  Hands are directly below the shoulders.  In this position, practice the skill of generating maximal tension throughout all of the muscles.  DO NOT hold your breath – breath behind the shield of the tension that is being generated.

I have them start lying on the ground, palms on the ground with their hands near their arm pits.  Hand placement is such that the elbows are in tight to their sides and not flared out – fingers are spread.  Legs are together and feet are on their toes.

Instruct them to take a deep breath and then come up to being on hands and knees.  From that position I have them get off of their knees and into the plank position – just on hands and feet.  Hands should be directly below the shoulders in this position, and there should be a straight line from their heels to the crown of their head.  I cue them here with the idea of gripping the ground’. They should be gripping the ground in such a way that they are ‘white knuckling’ it.   Continue to Full Article

Paul Langhorst

Co-Founder and Chief Technologist for Engage Sports, providing sports league websites, online registration and league management. Over the years, Rich has coached football, basketball, baseball and fastpitch softball. He has also severed as a board member for football and lacrosse organizations in the St. Louis area.


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