Partner Strength and Conditioning: Pushups


Push ups strengthen the entire “anterior chain” including the chest (pec major, anterior deltoid, and triceps), anterior core (rectus abdominus, internal and external oblique and transversus abdominus) and the quadriceps. At a summer camp that I worked at in college there was a challenge to do 3,000 pushups in two weeks. Over the course of the summer, the other counselors and I tried to complete these 3,000 in less and less time. I finally got it down to 3,000 in 10 hours by completing 25 pushups every 5 minutes or so. I remember how incredibly sore my abdominal muscles were that summer and appreciated the fact that the push up is truly a full body exercise.

One challenge with the pushup (and most body weight exercise) is adjusting the difficulty appropriately. To optimize strength gains, a gradual increase in resistance is necessary. The balance requirement of partner pushups focuses the challenge to the core and allows for easy adjustment of difficulty level. I like to start with the kneeling incline partner pushup because the core stability of both the base and the flyer are challenged and the face-to-face orientation makes communication and modification easy.



-Base kneels on a soft surface keeping the back straight
-Base places hands in front of chest
-Hold hands with a palm-to-palm grip ensuring that weight goes directly through the base of the palm so the wrist is not bent back too far

-Base and Flyer engage abdominal muscles by drawing the naval in toward the spine
-Flyer does a pushup by bringing their chest forward and shoulder blades together
-Flyer does not let the front of the shoulder come forward as this stresses the joint
-Base keeps back straight at all times

-Base can kneel with both knees down for greater stability
-Flyer can increase the difficulty by bringing their elbows in and pushing with the triceps
-Flyer can increase the difficulty by placing their feet further away from the base
-Flyer can decrease the difficulty by placing their feet closer the base and standing more vertical

-Try three sets of 5-10 repetitions every 48 hours, increasing the difficulty a little bit each session.


Call 510-452-2022 to sign up for the partner strength and conditioning workshop which Jessica and I will teach on April 6th 2013 in Oakland California at the Great Western Power Company. See flyer below for details, signup by calling, stopping by the front desk or by contacting me at


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