Monday, January 21, 2013

Get Off Your Knees!

It amazes me how some of the fittest people I met at my CrossFit box are such poon-dogs when it comes to push-ups. Seriously, we've been forced to do push-ups since elementary school. How is it that so many people have pathetic chest/tricep/shoulder strength? Why dothey struggle to complete a somewhat high volume of push-ups in any given WOD?

In my opinion, your average CrossFit athlete fails to take advantage of physics. In fact, in my opinion, too much time is spent teaching spine position or allowing the dreaded knee push up instead of enforcing proper hand placement. Quick question: which of the following angles generates the most pushing force?

I certainly hope everybody agrees that A will generate the most vertical force. This simple idea will forever change your push-up, handstand push-up, bench-press, and push-press performance. Inefficient hand placement will waste the upward force you generate with any pressing movement. A few years ago, I made a conscious effort to ensure that I maintained a 90 degree angle in my elbow while performing the bench press. This simple change radically increased the amount of weight I was able to press. Inevitably, this hand position became built into how I approached all pushing movements. I believe this is one of the reasons why I am able to lift more than others when it comes to pushing movements. KStar even posted a blog entry that emphasizes the importance of the "vertical forearm". 

If its good enough for KStar (not to mention Froning and Bailey) then it most certainly should be good enough for you. Next time you get ready to do a push-up or a bench-press, change your grip so that you maintain a vertical forearm. I can almost guarantee that you will PR if you have fallen victim to an inefficient hand position. For those of you who do push-ups from the knees, watch the above linked video. There are ways to modify push-ups without compromising the vertical forearm. Otherwise, you will be doomed to knee push-ups forever!

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