Hypertrophy: Horizontal Push

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Hypertrophy: Horizontal Push

clapping push upHypertrophy: Horizontal Push This week we are on week 4 of our Hypertrophy specialization program. Strength Workout (SWOD) A1. 3 x 8 Dynamic Push Ups A2. 3 x 10 DB Bench Press Muscles


  • Pectoralis Major, Sternal


  • Pectoralis Major, Clavicular
  • Deltoid, Anterior
  • Triceps Brachii

Dynamic Stabilizers

  • Biceps Brachii, Short Head
Workout of the Day (WOD) 4 Rounds 3min Running Clock 200m Run 20 Goblet Squats (53/35) 20 Abmats Max Rep HR Push Ups Push Ups for Scoregoblet squat

A lot of strength can be gained from performing push-ups. As a body weight, accessible, and scalable movement, they are a widely used and highly effective exercise. And though it might not seem as if they are working your full body, in reality, you are working out a great deal of your body! Your chest, shoulders, back, triceps, and entire core are worked as you hold your body tight, lower it to the ground, and then push it back up again.

As with any exercise we incorporate into CrossFit workouts, push-ups have a great deal of variety designed to focus on different muscle groups and hidden benefits specific to that variation. Pike push-ups, handstand push-ups, and hand release push-ups are just a few variations of the push-up that you are likely to see used during class.

What are the benefits to incorporating a hand release motion at the bottom of your push-up? Have you ever thought about possible reasons why we do that?

For one, it standardizes the movement for everyone. When we program regular push-ups, it seems folks have different ideas of what chest-to-ground means (wink wink), so range of movement differs across the playing field. By requiring the hands to be released at the bottom of the push-up, we can guarantee that your chest is on the ground. Hey now! We are doing this for your own good!

I also want you to think about the position of your chest when you release your hands at the bottom of the push-up. When you are flat-chested on the ground with your hands still on the ground, you are essentially in an open chest position, with a slight flex in your upper back. Once you release your hands, even a few inches, you begin to hyper-extend your chest, causing a greater tightening effect at the top of your back, similar to what you achieve on a rowing machine. Now, not only are you getting a great chest workout, as with standard push-ups, you are also getting in an upper back workout. We’re all about efficiency here people; two benefits for the price of one!

Lastly, the hand release push-up slows down your momentum, with ensures the maximum benefit of the actual push motion. As with any movement in CrossFit, once you have a bit of momentum, the movement itself is easier. Think of a kipping pull-up compared to a strict pull-up; it is a lot easier to use the momentum of the kip, rather than pull from a stagnant position. Same thing with a hand release push-up. We have all seen those guys who can complete really fast, really small push-ups…and I’m not knocking them for doing that! I’m sure there is some benefit to doing that… but it’s not what we want. We want strength and body control, and that only comes from actually pushing our body weight through the full range of motion, and not relying on momentum to help us.


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