Xercise O’ The Week: Stability Push Up

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January 6, 2014
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Stability Push is a great assessment tool and a great exercise!

I like to use this exercise as an assessment tool. For all you FMS fans out there this is very similar to the Trunk Stability Push Up. To pass this test you need to start in a prone position and press yourself up in one piece. That means that the whole body moves as one. A fail would be if the athlete couldn’t get up at all, shoulders or hips move separately or if one arm straightens at a different rate than the other. 

I have 4 Levels in this assessment. Each stage needs to be passed with 1 successful attempt. 

Level 1: Hands at the shoulders

Level 2: Diamond push up from the chin

Level 3: Diamond push up from the forehead

Level 4: Straight arms


Why do I like this assessment so much? To be honest I have almost removed it from my testing protocol numerous times due to the fact that it doesn’t really give you a true test of push strength. I was looking for a way to test push strength without having to bring external resistance into the test environment. If you use push ups as a test and see how many perfect push ups an athlete can do you are testing muscle endurance more than muscle strength. The Stability Push Up assesses full body stability not strength. The reason I keep it in is that the way people fail tells me so much information about the athlete’s weak links. To perform the Stability Push Up properly you need full body stiffness, great core stability, scapular stability and upper body strength. Lets talk about the scapular stability for a minute as this is a common weak link in athletes that perform this test. Watch the video below of the Level 4 Stability Push Up. Picture the force vectors. The hands push into the ground which push the body up and back, at the same time, the feet engage the ground and push forward. If the body is stiff it will raise off the ground in one piece. If the core is weak it will break. The arms attach to the body through the scapula and shoulder girdle. If you are lacking stability through the scapular region, it won’t matter how strong your arms are you will fail. One of my colleagues once said that he didn’t like the assessment because success and failure largely depended on the athlete’s scapular stability. Exactly! Its less about whether you pass or fail but more about HOW you pass or fail.

I have been performing this assessment for 3 years with my National Team players and the first year I only had 1 or 2 men and 0 women getting a Level 4 Stability Push Up. 3 years later through corrective exercises, strength programming and attacking weak links we now have 50% of the men and this year 2 of the 10 women achieved the Level 4 and another 4 passed a Level 3. 

Here we have Jennifer Ha performing the Level 3 and Level 4 Stability Push Up:
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 I would love feedback from all you LabRats out there. Try it with your athletes. Let me know what you see!

Coach Glass


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