My Favorite Upper Body Strength Exercise… Push-up Progressions

By Nunzio Signore (BA, CPT, NASM, PES, FMS)

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People often ask me what my favorite exercise is for building upper body strength.  Well, I love push-ups.  They are good for everyone, adults and athletes of all kinds including baseball, softball, lacrosse and hockey players among others. 

Performed correctly, they’re a great closed chain (done against a stable surface such as a floor or a wall) upper body and anterior core strengthening exercise as well as being a phenomenal shoulder stability drill.


Done incorrectly however, they’ll do wonders for giving you a sore lower back and shoulders. The nerve of this guy…

Push-Ups - 3

Once we’ve mastered correct form, they can be loaded with chains or bands to progress the exercise even further.

(Chain Pushups)

At some point we don’t want to load the lower back with too much weight, so we can progress the exercise even further by elevating the feet. This transfers more body weight to the upper body and also creates more of a challenge stability-wise for the shoulders.

(Feet Elevated Push-up)

These are just a few of the pushup variations we use at RPP. There are many more and they can all be performed regardless of age and in-season or off-season for athletes due to the safe “closed chain” environment they’re performed in.

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See ya ‘ in the gym.