Everyone knows that pushups are a great bodyweight exercise – easy to instruct, straightforward to perform, and no equipment necessary.  But I’ve seen people get discouraged by not being able to perform them either correctly or enough of them.  An excellent resource for a workable pushup progression can be found in the book “Convict Conditioning” by Paul Wade.  He lists 10 steps that gradually lead the athlete from Wall Pushups to One-Arm Pushups. They are easy to follow steps that acknowledge the time necessary to get the joints, tendons, ligaments,
as well as the muscles used to the stress involved in mastering this movement.

Another valuable resource is a October 2011 article by William Ebben et. al. in the J. of Strength and Conditioning Research.   Their “Kinetic Analysis of Several Variations of Push-ups” gives a chart of the Ground Reaction Force of 6 different pushup variations as a coefficient of total body mass.  This chart can be used to quantify the approximate load and create a progression from lower intensity to higher intensity pushups.   The
results were found to be independent of gender or height.  Synopsis of their data:

Variation                       % of BW
Feet Elevated 24”            74%
Feet Elevated 12”            70%
Regular                           64%
Hands Elevated 12”         55%
Flexed Knee                    49%
Hands Elevated 24”         41%

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