The push-up is one of the foundational exercises one can perform for balanced full body strength and it's also one of the exercises that you need to master to pass the PFA to the Australian Defence Force. Join other ADF applicants now https://www.facebook.com/groups/thebarracksgymADFgroup/
Women in general claim that doing push-ups is hard for them, especially those that are only looking to achieve general fitness. We, at The Barracks Gym are proud of having coached over 2000 applicants to do full push-ups with perfect form.
If your goal is to pass the Pre-entry Fitness Assessment to the Australian Defence Force, you must master the correct push-up form as that's what the assessors will want to see. It's about both quantity and most importantly quality. Women are required to perform 4-8 full military push-ups with perfect form depending on whether they are applying for an Army, Navy or Air Force position.
Years of experience in helping female applicants do just that taught us the 4 main faults they tend to make when performing push-ups. I'll elaborate on each of these and how to correct them below.
Fault #1. Hands too far forward of the shoulders
If you took a photo of yourself side on in the push up position you should see that your hands are directly under your shoulders. If they are not then it is likely this is a factor which will inhibit your ability to go low. Your arms will bend out to the sides at 90degrees as opposed to 45 degrees from your body.
Bringing your hands underneath your shoulders will incorporate more muscles. More muscles means more efficiency. At first it may seem harder because your body is not used to it but in time your body will thank you and you'll start being able to do 20,30,40,50 plus military style push ups. It also reduces the risk of shoulder injuries as it takes the pressure off your shoulders and evens the load over your chest and back muscles.
FAULT #2. Head is hanging
Firstly if your head is hanging to the ground it looks terrible. Lift your head up so you are looking approximately 1m in front of your body. This helps activate muscles in your upper back which adds more control and depth to your push ups and also gives a straight line from your head to ankles.
Raising your head also prevents you from having the false sense that you are going lower than you actually are. It's quite common for people to think they are getting the full depth but are really only lowering themselves a small amount.
A variation of this is when people start the movement with the head in the right position, but in an attempt to go lower they push their head closer to the ground. Imagine a pigeon when walking and pushing its head forward. It doesn't only look odd, it carries a host of injury risks and again, it may create a false sense of going lower than you really are.
FAULT #3. Core is sagging
There's no doubt that if you are struggling with push ups then it's very likely that your core is quite weak. You can strengthen your core while practising push ups. We like to suggest one of 3 things to assist in activating your core. One will work for you so try them all to figure out which one:
And remember there are two parts to a push up, down and up. Make sure you activate your core on the way down and on the way back up.
Finally avoid doing push ups on your knees. The reason for this is that you get no core development out of it. You could do a thousand knee push ups but still fail to complete one full depth military push ups.
FAULT #4. Not going low enough
Officially, you need to go low enough so your elbows create a 90 degree angle between your forearms and upper arms. Many of you will be unable to do a full depth military push up on your first go which is totally fine.
The best thing to do is conduct regression push ups. Find a height at which you can complete full depth push ups, whether it's a couch, chair or bench if you're at home or if you're at the gym then find a box, bench or smith machine bar.
Even if you have to start by doing push ups against a wall to get the full depth, then that's totally fine. All the previous mentioned principles remain the same. Hands under shoulders, head up and core on.
Once you can complete 10 repetitions at your regression height then lower the height. Continue this until you are on the ground. Always remember to go full depth. No point practicing half push ups because you'll only ever be good at half depth push ups.
The bottom line is, wherever you are right now, you can get to doing full-depth push-ups with regular practice and applying the above principles to make sure your exercise form is on point so you can improve your strength, practice by practice.
Need a boost with your push ups? Check out the training options here.
We work with some of the best service providers for ADF and Police applicants.