The Pushup is Perhaps the Most Important Exercise You Can Master

When you look at a pushup, it looks nothing like golf. How could it translate to the game? I’m not only convinced it translates, I also think it’s one of the most important things to learn before embarking on any fitness and/or golf fitness program. It’s a win/win. It’s one of those exercises that helps with proper body mechanics, fat loss, golf, and anything else you do in life. Here’s why:

Tension Dial

If you haven’t had much coaching in push-ups but can do a few sets, you’ll be surprised by how hard you have to contract your whole body to get it done the way I teach you. It’ll feel like a big effort to contract the small stabilizing muscles of the trunk, shoulders, hips, and even hands. Over time, this will become more natural, and it will feel a bit easier. We must create tension in the body to complete a movement like a pushup, otherwise it’ll look something like this:

However, it doesn’t mean you need maximal contraction like you would in, say, a max effort deadlift. Being able to turn a dial of tension up and down is what athleticism is all about. Getting stronger in the gym requires this dial, as does sports like golf. The ability to contract a muscle quickly, relax it, and contract again is how any fast coordinated movement works. When looking at a great athlete, we often comment on the smooth nature of how their body generates speed and power. From Bo Jackson to Jordan Spieth, they have a way about them. The great ones can control their tension dial as quick as their mind can generate what it wants.

Proper shoulder mechanics

You may know someone who hurt their shoulder bench pressing. It’s certainly common. Conventional wisdom has been to “earn” your bench pressings and heavy push exercises by doing pushups and body weight work first. This advice is almost correct. The missing ingredient is shoulder mechanics. You can have poor shoulder mechanics in pushups too, and it can injure your shoulder, albeit slower then a bench press. The two most common pushup issues are:

Being too far away from your hands

The elbows flaring out

Proper trunk mechanics

I touched on this in the tension dial section. Here is how I think of movements like the pushup. If I were to take a picture of your pushup, and turn that picture to make it look like you were standing, how would it look? Check this out


What do do:

  • Try getting as tense as you can everywhere (squeeze your fists, glutes, quads, every muscle you can think of)
  • Hands are everything. Grab the ground with your hands!
  • As you get better, you’ll notice you can be at a lower tension and still have good form
  • Once you feel more confident, branch out into pushup progressions, like pausing at the bottom for 5 seconds, having one foot elevated, and much more

The pushup is just one way we challenge your trunk. Exercises lying on your back, side, on 1 knee, 2 knees, standing, and standing on 1 leg are all different postures we can challenge you. Mastering the pushup goes a long way to moving up the progression (and performance) ladder.

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