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Isometric Elevated Push-Ups

Written on June 22, 2007 at 10:53 am, by Eric Cressey

Q: Had a couple questions on the isometric elevated push-up holds. How do you structure this exercise into your training programs? Is this something you will do in the warm-up or after other movements?

What have you found to be the most effective scheme as far as the hold is concerned? Meaning, do you have your athletes go for time/until fatigue/reps/multiple sets, etc.

Have you utilized unstable surfaces with this exercise as well?

I would be using the holds mostly with my softball players as they prepare this upcoming fall and am always looking for various shoulder exercises to reduce the risk of injury. Thanks so much for any help you can give.

A: With beginners, it may be the first movement. Generally, though, I’ll include it later in the training session. It’s also great for back-off weeks; I actually include it as part of regeneration phases if an athlete is worn out post-season (maintain muscular activation with lower joint torques). I go into more detail on this in The Ultimate Off-Season Training Manual.

We always do at least two sets, and sometimes as many as four. I generally won’t go longer than a minute; many athletes won’t be able to go much longer than 15-20s (especially female athletes).

As far as unstable surfaces are concerned, there’s not much reason to use them for this; you can train proprioception pretty easily at normal speeds. One of the inherent benefits to using upper body unstable surface training is the maintained muscular activation with lower resultant joint torques (prime movers become joint stabilizers – see JSCR research from David Behm and Ken Anderson). You can get this same benefit from isometric holds, so doing them on unstable surfaces would be overkill, IMO – especially in a female athlete population who is likely too weak in the upper body in the first place.

Eric Cressey

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