The High-Flying Push-Up You'll Be Dying To Learn
Soar past your excuses and take your push-ups in a whole new direction: spinning around in a 180! This will take time and a plan. Here's your plan.
This push-up is gonna blow your mind, and the mind of anyone watching you. It's a solid goal to aim for, not only because it's cool, but also because there's no faking it. You can either do it, or you can't. But this also means it's definitely not for beginners.
So, where do you start? With push-ups, of course. Before even attempting the 180 push-up, you should be able to perform at least 20 perfect-form push-ups. To me, perfect form means you are going all the way up and all the way down on each rep without struggling or letting your elbows flare out. These should be easy and smooth. If they're not, you're not quite ready to attempt 180s.
Proper form is critical, because without the right amount strength to perform this push-up, you can get hurt. You probably won't break an arm or anything, but ending up face-down and bruised on the ground is a sure thing. It might be inevitable even if you've got the strength, but at least you'll have a chance!
But if you've got your push-ups down pat, you're ready for the next step.
Step 1: Explosive Push-Ups
At the top of every rep, push off the ground as if you're trying to thrust yourself into the sky, higher and higher with every rep. You can't do this with slow push-ups. This is a fast movement, and you're teaching your body to move quickly. Perform just 2-6 reps at a time, and focus on building height for each rep as opposed to more reps.
Step 2: Explosive Push-Ups With Knee Tuck
Once you feel like you're able to push your upper body into the sky, it's time to bring your lower body in on the action by adding a knee tuck at the top. This will simulate the movement your lower body will be doing during the final goal exercise. At the top of every push-up, tuck both knees into your body, then kick them back out on your way down. If this is the first step in the progression where you get to eat some ground, welcome to the club.
Step 3: Explosive Rotating Push-Up
You've got the explosion. Now it's time to add the twist, but not all at once. At the top of every explosive push-up, you will pump your body to the left and then to the right. Start with just a little rotation, then add more as you become comfortable with the motion. Being able to do this is pretty impressive on its own—and pretty different than anything else you've probably done before—so spend some solid time here before trying a full rotational rep.
How to Nail That 180
Once you've comfortably mastered all these progressions, it's time to go for it. But don't feel pressured to move forward too fast. Take your time to really master each progression, both for safety and because each stage has real value on its own.
When going for a rep on the 180, I suggest you go on your second or third push-up, to build up your momentum. Going into this movement with full effort is far harder, both mentally and physically. If you don't believe me, you can certainly try. I've seen how that ends up.
So, start with one or two pushups, done really fast, with the full range of motion. Then, when you're ready, bend your knees and bring your feet slightly forward. From there, jolt your legs to the side using your waist. Think of it as a double kick to the side. At the same time, your upper body will push upward with the intention of turning toward the full 180.
When you get there, kick your legs back out and back to push-up position. Of course, you probably won't get it on your first try. That's fine. Maybe instead of a 180, you'll get a 150 or 140, or even less. No big deal. Every degree counts, and if you keep at it, you'll eventually have that ta-da moment where you get the full turn. Then, you can start to work this into your freestyle push-up mix.
Just stick with it. This is the sort of goal worth pouring some quality hours into!
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