Respecting the Pushup

Most players and coaches would agree that tennis is a physically demanding sport. One must prepare their bodies for battle on the courts by doing adequate physical training. Appropriate fitness for tennis programs can prevent injuries and may make players stronger. Even though most of us are quarantined and at home, now is certainly not the time to sit around and do nothing. It is actually a great time to get into great physical condition so you can be well-prepared when you get back to playing tennis.

Oftentimes, players overlook the importance of training their upper bodies. Perhaps they do not have the knowledge or time to perform an appropriate upper body routine. There are numerous upper body exercises that can be performed in the gym or on the tennis court. Today, we are going to focus on one upper body exercise known as the pushup that may be performed many ways and anywhere.

The pushup is a body weight exercise. People who claim that pushups are easy to do may not have explored the numerous varieties of pushups that can be performed. The primary muscles that these different varieties of the pushup works include the Pectoralis Major/Chest, the Deltoids/Shoulders, Triceps/Back of upper arm, Latissimus Dorsi/Upper back, and the Core/Abs and lower back. In the scope of this article, we are going to focus on 5 different types of pushups. Please proceed with caution and at your own risk! Some of these variations may be extremely difficult or impossible to do until one’s strength levels become adequate. Before trying these varieties of pushups, one should be able to perform at least 30-40 regular pushups in the one minute pushup test. For a pushup to count for the one minute pushup test, one’s arms must go to a 90 degree angle!

Pushup #1 (Diamond Pushups)- Place hands together with the thumb and forefinger touching to create a diamond. These pushups place extreme emphasis on the back of the upper arm/triceps and pectoral muscles. Lower yourself until the middle area of the chest touches the diamond.   

Pushup #2 (Pushups with clap)-This is set up just like a regular pushup but it is actually a plyometric pushup that will require lots of power. This upper body jumping style pushup will require you to explode off of the ground high enough to clap and then place your hands back into regular pushup position.

Pushup #3 (Alligator Pushups)-This is also set up just like a regular pushup. Mark off a small X with tape directly under your hands. Now, mark off an X 2 feet to the right of the middle X and 2 feet to the left of the middle X. Begin by doing a regular pushup in the middle. Now, walk your hands to the left X, then to the right X and then back to the middle for another pushup. A repetition is completed once the middle pushup is performed. This type of pushup will require extreme core stability and upper body strength.

Pushup #4 (Weighted pushups) These are performed just like a regular pushup, but with additional weight placed on the upper body. It is acceptable to use a weighted vest, a weighted backpack, a sandbag, or a weight. (placed on the upper back)

Pushup #5 (Feet elevated pushups)- Get into a regular pushup position with your feet on an approximately 2 foot high sturdy object such as a chair or a weight bench. These will give the upper body more overload than a regular pushup. For even more difficulty and emphasis on core stabilization, elevate your feet onto a stability ball.

It is easy to see that one may do extremely difficult upper body physical activity with very little or even no equipment. These forms of pushups should give you a newfound respect to “The Pushup.”  These pushups are extremely stressful on the body and one can seriously injure if any of these are performed incorrectly or if the body is not yet capable of performing these. The pushup can be performed just about anywhere.  If anyone has any specific questions about exercise technique, exercise choices, correct repetition ranges, or exercise order please feel free to contact me with any questions. 

I created a 4-week on your own program that takes the guesswork out of training and focuses on lower, upper, and core strengthening, agility, speed, and endurance. You also don’t need a bunch of fancy equipment. Some cones or markers and a mat is all you really need. Jeff Drock MS, CSCS is a Tennis Specific Movement and Physical Conditioning Specialist Jeff@superfittennis.com 

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