How much tension in hard style push-ups and power push-ups ?

bluejeff

Level 6 Valued Member
I was reviewing my current training style and was considering that I might benefit from being more deliberate with my use of body tension. I would like a little clarification about how much tension “should” be used during hardstyle push-ups. As much as we can possibly do? Just enough to maintain “full body” engagement? Full body as much as possible (minus face/ neck of course)? Ramping up tension to a “maximum” level (as hard as possible!) seems like it could only be practiced a few times a week, at lower volumes. The reasoning being that if you exert to your max capacity one day, and try again the next day, are you really still capable of the same level of exertion on the second day?

Then how much body tension should be used in power pushups, which are obviously performed much faster? Just enough to maintain solid form? Focusing on squeezing everything not actively pushing?
 

daniel vintila

Level 5 Valued Member
Certified Instructor
Lately I started doing some Q+D and on the push ups I do them with a resistance band (a hard one). As much as they are slightly harder I am not using maximum tension each rep. Just enough to keep good form and complete the reps. I only use maximum tension when practicing 1 arm 1 leg push ups for my upcoming SFB.
I personally use max tension when going for very heavy lifts or very difficult exercises, other than that everything else is just practice and training so I don't go max tension.
 

Anna C

Level 9 Valued Member
Elite Certified Instructor
Generally, for beginners, it's "as much as possible" until you get good at it (a few practices, a few weeks... depends). Then you dial it back so that you are using a more focused and deliberate tension to enhance the lift; no longer maximum.

Have you heard of Pavel's concept of dominata? As quoted in this older thread, dominata is "enough tension to enhance the lift but not so much tension that it becomes the goal of the lift."

Great post by @Brett Jones here: How much tension are you supposed to generate with High Tension Techniques?

More here: Sinister vs Beast Tamer.
 

Steve W.

Level 7 Valued Member
Then how much body tension should be used in power pushups, which are obviously performed much faster? Just enough to maintain solid form? Focusing on squeezing everything not actively pushing?

With Q&D power pushups, as in a ballistic lift, it's not about a level of global tension, or even a global rhythm of tight and loose. It's more a rhythm of when and where to be tense and when and where to be loose.

The drop on power pushups is a free fall. I think of "playing chicken with the floor." So yours arms, shoulders and chest have to relax in order to free fall. The rest of your body has to tight enough to maintain alignment.

Then you have to turn on the tension fast at the last moment to catch yourself before hitting the floor, and then explode upwards. But even on the upward explosion, you aren't maximally tight everywhere because that would inhibit exploding up fast.

It takes a certain level of strength to be able to catch yourself at the last moment, but it also takes practice to develop the skill and confidence to turn the tension off and on really fast and at the right time. At first, your nervous system doesn't want to let you relax and free fall really free fall. It wants to keep the brakes on to protect your from smashing your face into the floor. And your nervous system doesn't want to let you delay turning the tension on until the last instant. It wants to start braking earlier to protect you.

So partly it's learning the skill of the timing, partly it's being able to override your subconscious fail-safe mechanisms, and partly it's just having the strength to execute it.
 
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