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VAHVA Fitness

Mobility and Stability Push Up Combo

By VAHVA Fitness on December 1, 2019

Mobility and stability push ups for amazing upper body development. Turn the conventional push up into a different kind of beast.

You can use the push up to target many different parts of the upper body which makes it amazingly versatile exercise with a lot to offer.

You can use the push up to target the front deltoids by placing the arms near the hips. You can target the triceps by bringing the hands together but keeping them near your chest or head level.

You can target the outer chest by using a wide hand placement. The inner chest is worked with a shoulder width grip where you focus on squeezing the chest. We covered many variations in this video where we even go through how to target the upper chest.

You can even work the scapula (shoulder blades) with the push ups and target many of the back muscles and rear deltoids by utilizing the antagonist activation principle.

Scapula = Shoulder blades.

For example, when you shrug "shoulders to your ears" you are moving the scapula and this is called scapula elevation. The shoulder blades can move in all directions.

Initially the push up looks like a simple exercise but once you understand the body on a deeper level and see the depth of your physique, you will realize that there are many moving parts involved in a simple push up pattern.

You can isolate various parts of the body effectively ONLY IF you learn how to stabilize the parts of the body that you DO NOT want to move. Easier said than done but we can teach you how.

In this video and article we will take a look at the two main push up variations everyone should master: mobility push up (Phase 1 of Athlete 20XX) and stability push up (Phase 2 of Athlete 20XX).

Mobility Push Up

protraction and upward rotation of scapula
full retraction and downward rotation of scapula
  • At the top of the repetition, push your shoulder blades forward (protraction) by rounding the upper back
  • At the bottom, pull the shoulder blades back (retraction)
  • Keep the core tight and stable

Mobility push up utilizes the maximal range of motion of the push up by fully moving the scapula (shoulder blades) forward and back in different phases of the repetition. 

For example, in the regular push up the cue is to keep the scapula stable but most people never keep it as stable as it should be (hence why the second exercise called stability push up should be mastered).

Moving the scapula and flexing the upper back does take a bit away from the chest and shoulders but what you will lose there you will gain in strength and mobility of your scapula and shoulders.

Properly done mobility push up will develop strength and range of motion in the retraction & downward rotation of the scapula and the protraction & upward rotation of the scapula.

Basically, you will be getting more mobile shoulder blades which means that every movement where you use the shoulder blades such as presses, pull ups etc. will become stronger.

Especially in punching, a lot of power comes from the shoulder blades which means you will be able to punch harder and in some cases even with a longer reach.

Stability Push Up

the stability push up
  • Keep the shoulder blades as stable as possible the entire duration of the repetition – zero movement!
  • Do not arch or round the spine at any point
  • Keep the core rigid and stable

While in the mobility push up the shoulder blades moved as much as possible, in the stability push up the shoulder blades are not supposed to move AT ALL. In fact, you are practicing keeping the shoulder blades stable and in place.

Stabilizing the shoulder blades can actually get quite difficult if you do it properly. Many will start feel the exercise in their back muscles and even rear deltoids.

The best part about the stability push up is that by stabilizing the scapula (shoulder blades), you are actually emphasizing the chest, anterior deltoids and triceps significantly more.

This is because all of the force produced to move the body is created by these muscles alone. Maintaining constant scapula stabilization and tension only make the exercise more difficult because they are not assisting the movement.

You will not only develop these muscles (shoulders, chest and triceps) more thoroughly and effectively but you will also learn to keep the shoulder blades stable which is very important as well.

Learning how to keep the scapula stable will reduce the chance of injury because it reduces the unwanted fluctuation of the joint which can lead to impingement and wear & tear.

Upgrade Your Training.

Learning how to control specific parts of the body will lead to learning how to move them all in synergy. The most complex movements consist of the same simple basics!

Training both mobility (strength in the range of motion) and stability (the ability to stabilize the joint) will lead to adaptability.

You are becoming a master of your body. Human movement and athleticism mainly consist of these two attributes: stability and mobility. Lack of either one often leads to higher risk for injuries.

When you learn to activate, move and stabilize specific areas of the body, you will eventually learn to move multiple areas in synergy. You are ultimately cultivating awareness of your body and mental control over the muscles.

Learning how to "isolate" different body parts in separation is the first step to learning how to move them in conjunction with detail and sophistication.

This is why in Athlete 20XX we are learning how to control the body – we are fundamentally studying the body to learn how it moves. Movement 20XX teaches how to move the body, Athlete 20XX teaches how the body moves.

What does this mean? For example, athletes and dancers are often amazing at moving their body but you would be awestruck by how many athletes and dancers have little to no understanding of how the body functions outside the skills of their craft.

Discovering how to move the body is only one part of the equation. Discovering your body is another part. This is why it's important to specifically focus on developing athletic attributes such as mobility and stability.

All athletic movements whether it is sports, dance or martial arts fundamentally consist of the same attributes and basic patterns. Something is always moving and something is always stabilizing. 

Master both and there are no limits to your ability.

VAHVA Fitness

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