Progress the Push Up: Intermediate Level

In my last push up article and video I laid out strategies and progressions I use with my athletes to perform a proper floor push up for reps with ease.



To perform a proper floor push up it is important to maintain the correct positioning of the arms and shoulders and to move through the range of motion where the athlete’s hips and shoulders stay level throughout. Once they get the hang of the push up mechanics, the progression I like starting with is the elevated push up on a bar which can be lowered to different degrees until the athlete is doing them on the floor.

Once floor push ups are performed with ease I look for ways to make the movement more challenging and beneficial for the athlete’s physical growth. These are the intermediate push up progressions I use to take them to the next level. All of them are more challenging than the floor but relatively safe to perform when the athlete is strong enough and exemplifying proper technique during the movement.

Suspension Strap Push Ups

Suspension strap push ups are an excellent option for the beginner to transition from the floor to the next level. Any suspension device can be used like rings, Blast Straps and the TRX. The suspension straps rely on more shoulder stability of each arm due to the fact that they are not on a fixed surface, however they can be progressed depending on where you stand.

When first starting out, be in a more vertical position relative to the floor and as strength and stability are gained gradually move into a more horizontal position.

Elevated Push Ups

Elevated push ups are a challenge because of their nature allowing the athlete to move through a greater range of motion by dropping their body lower then if they were to do it on the floor. Adequate shoulder range of motion and stability are a must if you intend to do this variation. Remember the goal is not to get as low as you can, it is to be as stable as you can and maintain proper technique.

Uneven Push Up

Like the elevated push up, the uneven push up allows one of your sides to get lower than if you were performing them on the floor. The unique aspect of the uneven push up is the challenge of keeping your core stable. Because one side has the ability to descend lower than the other, there is also a greater chance of your core collapsing during the movement and that is what you want to avoid.

Traveling Push Up

The traveling push up takes the uneven push up to the next level by making it more dynamic. After you complete a rep on one side you want to transition to the other side without collapsing your core. The better you get at performing these, the less collapse you will have and the less movement of your body during these transitions. A good goal is to transfer from one side to the other smoothly and in the least amount of movement as possible. Be careful not to go too fast in transition initially, so you do not miss the ball and injure your wrist. If you are a beginner with this variation, roll the ball to the other side at first.

For further explanation of the progressions above check out the video below: