The CrossFit Push-up
Monday class times: 530am, Noon, 430pm, 530pm, and 630pm
ELEMENTS Class #7: 630pm
Strength: Floor Press 2-2-2-2-2
WOD: 10 Rounds for time
10 Deadlifts @ 135/95
10 Hand Release Push-ups
Quick little blog on push-ups I found:
“It’s a push-up, it’s just not a Crossfit push-up”
A while back I worked out with a friend; we were on the road and came up with a nice little travel WOD. The WOD had several body weight movements including push-ups. My friend did not belong to a Crossfit gym. In the last year though, she had done workouts from the main site and considered herself hip to the ways of Crossfit. So the WOD began, we were off and running. During the WOD I happened to look over and noticed my friend’s push-ups were not full range of motion. In fact her chest was nowhere near touching the ground. As we continued, I alternated giving words of encouragement with words of correction: “get your chest to the deck lady, you got this!” When she finished her last push-up she stood up, looked at me, and said, “It’s a push-up, it’s just not a Crossfit push-up.” Asphincter says what?? My workout was officially done, I was now starting a new one where I attempted to wrap my mind around what I had just heard. Was there a difference between a push-up and a “Crossfit push-up”? Where did the original standard for a push-up come from? Who invented the push-up?
Well, after doing some research (i.e., looking at Wikipedia) I found there is no one person who is given full credit for inventing the push-up or for establishing a “standard”. Here is what I did find: in the dictionary a push up is described as “performed in a prone position by raising and lowering the body with the straightening and bending of the arms while keeping the back straight and supporting the body on the hands and toes.” If you take a moment to review Dr. Kelly Starett’s brilliant tome, Becoming a Supple Leopard, he makes several references to “the bottom position” without saying what said bottom position is. The same goes for my search of Carl Paoli’s GWOD site and his many videos taking athletes through the push-up progression. Mind you in both sources all demo-ed push-ups involve the chest coming in contact with the ground. I turned to the Crossfit Journal next. In an article titled quite simply “The Push-Up” by Greg Glassman, written in March of 2003 I found this little gem: “ So ‘what is an honest push-up?’ An honest push-up moves slowly from full extension to a point of maximum depth without ‘reaching’ for the ground or perturbing the body’s taut, rigid, straight-line posture, and then returns rigidly to full extension.” Later in the article Glassman also states “If performing push-ups on the floor we start our athletes from flat on the floor with nose, chest, pelvis, and thighs – as much of the body as possible – making contact and then begin.” I think we are getting closer to an answer but I guess somewhere I was just hoping I would read the words “chest to the deck” to really solidify my point.
I’m sure if I searched more exhaustively I could eventually locate some more solid, substantial answers, like what is the standard for the push up and who set it? And that’s when it hit me like a brick. The standard for the push-up was set by LIFE. CrossFit is “Constantly varied, FUNCTIONAL movement, performed at high intensity". The movement standard for the push-up is: when life knocks you on your face, push yourself up. What is more functional then that? So let’s revisit my friend’s statement about “it’s a push-up, it’s just not a CrossFit push-up”, I guess she was right. The difference between the two is the functionality of them. I’m training for life and whatever it chooses to hand me. So I guess this means I should take my push-up all the way to the ground a.k.a. a “CrossFit push-up”, as I have never known life to knock me down "close enough" to the ground. You may try to practice your push-ups with your chest hovering above the floor, but don't be surprised if you here me yelling "GET YOUR CHEST TO THE GROUND!!" in the background, I want you ready for life too. You're welcome.