Push-up Strength Training: A Guide to Using the Hip Push-up for More Muscular Density and Definition
Push-up strength training? How can the hip push-up help with in your training? In order to train for strength, we need to achieve great muscular tension. In other words the muscles need to contract very hard. The traditional pushup can be used for this purpose, but once you pass a couple months of training, pushups become too easy.
So to use them for strength training you need to do them to failure – the last few reps produce enough tension. But there is an easier way. A modified push up, such as the hip pushup which will be described in this article, is substantially harder and can be used for strength training even by more experienced athletes.
The cool thing is that the hip push up can be done anywhere, and will strengthen your wrists and fists. Last but not least – it is great way to work towards a planche push-up, where you support a hundred percent of your bodyweight.
Athletes such as gymnasts and b-boys like the guy above have a ridiculous strength to body weight ratio. Their great relative strength allows them to perform amazing moves. The hip push-up will help you increase your upper body relative strength.
So What Exactly Is the Hip Push-up
This is simply a push-up variation done on your fist, in which you lean forward as far as you can. This greatly overloads the movement so you are able to use the push-up as a strength training and muscle building tool and thus get bigger and more defined muscles.
Here’s how to do the hip push-up effectively for maximum strength training and muscular density benefits. Once you get past 12 reps, those benefits subside. You can still exploit the movement though – by going to complete muscular failure. However, if you can do under 6 reps, don’t go to failure.
Hip Push-up Technique
- Stay rigid. The first thing in any gymnastic, strength or calisthenics move is muscular control. You want to keep your body tight. It is always easier to control it this way.
- Stay on your fists. Ideally you want to do the hip pushup on your fists. Another option is to use push-ups stands. Doing these pushups on your palms is not really an option as you are likely to hyper extend your wrists and hurt them.
- Lean forward. The next step, after getting into a push-up position on your fists is to lean forward as far as you can. This shifts a much larger percentage of your bodyweight to your arms and you actually will be able to do 1-10 of these instead of 30-50+.
- Pick a spot. Simply pick a spot on the ground after you have leaned forward as far as you can. Now look at this spot and go straight up and down. By looking at this spot you will be able to self-spot yourself so that you don’t cheat on the movement.
- Stay in the hollow position. The gymnastic hollow position in which you tighten your but and abs, is once again key as in most bodyweight exercises.
- Volume is your friend. High volume of training brings success with such strength/skill moves.
- Don’t fail. With low reps stay away from forced reps. They don’t help; but only rob you of energy.
- Track daily or weekly volume. Come up with some way to measure your progress and make sure you do more reps either daily or weekly
- Three weeks on, one off. Train hard for 3-4 weeks, than back off. I learned this little trick from Vince Gironda – it helps bust plateaus and avoid injuries.
- At least one day par week off. You can train every day, or just 3 times per week. But make sure to rest at least one day per week. Your motivation will stay up and your body will thank you.
- Listen to your body. Back off on the training if you need.
Speaking of Strength Training…
Here is one of my favorite quotes from the book by Zatsiorsky and Kraeme, Science and Practice of Strength Training. This is the best explanation I know on how to achieve maximum muscular tension using various methods:
There are three ways to achieve maximal muscular tension:
- Lifting a maximum load (exercising against maximal resistance) – that is, the maximal effort method
- Lifting a nonmaximal load to failure; during the final repetitions the muscles develop the maximum force possible in a fatigued state – that is, the repeated effort method
- Lifting (throwing) a nonmaximal load with the highest attainable speed – that is, the dynamic effort method
Hip Push-up Instructional Video
Here is the video on how to use the hip push-up for strength training. Remember to stay tight, lean forward as far as you can, then pick a spot on the ground and watch it to make sure you only go up and down.
Your Daily Routine
I like to train the hip push-up with a ladder. I do one rep, rest some time, do two reps, rest, etc… Once I reach the highest number of reps I cand o with good form, I start from one again. This kind of training is inspired by Pavel Tsatsouline’s article on pullup ladders in the in the December, 2000 issue of Milo magazine. Here are a few articles that talk about ladders:
- Pavel’s Ladder. This is the original article that introduced me to the ladder principle. Clarence Bass does a good job explaining it.
- How to Get Stronger at Push-ups and Pull-ups Using a Soviet Special Forces Technique. In this Article Rusty Moore does an excellent job of explaining the ladder fundamentals – volume, specificity and no failure.
- Do More Pull Ups – How a Navy SEALs Program Helped Me. In this article Dan from Zenvigorate explains pyramids for pullups – they are just like ladders,e xcept you go both up and down. So it looks like this: 1-2-3-… then …3-2-1
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