What is the best pushup depth?

guardian7

More than 500 posts
What is the best depth for pushups?

A lot of pushup tutorials focus on arm placement and keeping a plank position, but few talk about how low to go in the pushup. I used to go right to the floor, almost touching my nose to the floor, but I thought that like a perfect form tactical pullup, the idea would be to lock the scapular rather than let a bit of a concave shape result (chest in front of shoulders), so I am thinking that about the size of say a golf ball under the chest would be about right. Some say to imagine a tennis or baseball under your chest (convict conditioning) but that seems a bit high. I do a strict slow eccentric phase and fast concentric. Others like GMB seem to almost touch the nose and chest to the floor. US Army seems to only have age and rep standards.

I suppose it is related to ones anthropometrics to some extent, but is there an "official" Strongfirst pushup depth that is recommended? I am thinking somewhere between touching the floor and having a baseball under the chest. My theory is related to the position of the scapula in retaining full body tension. I notice that I leak full body tension when I go to full ROM or touch the floor--kind of like relaxing at the bottom of a bicep curl and releasing the tension vs doing cable bicep curls where there is some tension maintained.

Sorry for the long post for such a simple question! I am working on pushup form and weekdaily pushups.
 

somanaut

More than 300 posts
I don't think, that there is an exact depth requirement for regular push ups, perhaps mainly because they aren't focused on in the S1 curriculum. But there isn't a depth specified for the OA-/OAOLPU either as far as I can see. So I think form is more important than how much ROM, and as you said it will depend on ones bodycomp.
 

Shahaf Levin

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
I suppose it is related to ones anthropometrics to some extent, but is there an "official" Strongfirst pushup depth that is recommended?
I am far from answering on behalf of SF, but I think of it like squat depth... Both anthropometrics AND skill level. I am not expecting a novice to go very deep on squats, I do expect it from myself...

I think just above the point of tension leak is ones current personal depth.

I know this is somewhat side stepping your question...
 

Anna C

More than 5000 posts
Elite Certified Instructor
The depth standard for the OAPU in my SF Bodyweight course manual is to lower the torso under control on one arm "until the tip of the elbow of the working arm is above the top of the shoulder" and press back up.

You're right, it's not in that article, and I don't see it on the Bodyweight cert requirements page nor in the video.
 

jef

I am a student of strength.
Certified Instructor
As @Anna C said.
This is the depth requirement for testing at the SFB.
It seems to me a reasonable standard for any pushup.
 

Steve W.

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
the idea would be to lock the scapular
IMO, you want a nice rhythm of retraction at the bottom and protraction at the top. Eric Cressey had a recent instagram post where he includes this as one of his pushup form points. His only point on depth is "elbows don't wind up too far behind the body," but doesn't specify what constitutes "too far."

Also IMO, MOST people don't have to worry about going too deep in a pushup, assuming they can maintain other aspects of good form. The floor does a pretty good job limiting your range of motion to a safe range.

Also IMO, a lot of harm is done by people trying to keep their scapulas locked down during various exercises instead of maintaining or establishing healthy scapular movement (bench press being somewhat of an exception because the bench interferes with scapular movement).
 
Last edited:

North Coast Miller

More than 2500 posts
When I was counting off for the CubScout fitness badge, I made the scouts touch their chest to my fist resting on the floor.

A tennis ball or knotted gym towel should be about right.
 

Joeyboy

Double-Digit Post Count
I would think 90 degrees at the elbow but that is the military in me. I think the biggest problem is not going back to extension, or almost extension.
 

offwidth

More than 5000 posts
There is also the so-called 'perfect push-up'

From the top position lower all the way to the ground so the entire front of your body is in contact with the ground, and spread your arms to the side; bring your arms back in, and push up.

Repeat until maximum fun has been achieved
 

Neuro-Bob

More than 2500 posts
In general....isn’t push-up depth similar to squat depth?

What I mean is, there are plenty of people that say going past 90deg in either will leave you disabled for life, while the other half of the population says going past 90deg will ABLE you for the rest of your life.

I’m a past 90 guy, but I can’t imagine stopping at 90 is “wrong” for a recreatiational athlete.
 

Antti

More than 2500 posts
What's wrong with touching the ground with the chest? That's the way the push-ups have always been done around here and how the school and military tests were done etc. Before getting on this forum and reading a certain book on calisthenics, no other option ever crossed my mind.
 

Oscar

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
Touching the chest to the floor would be similar depth as touching the bar to the chest on a bench press, right? Maybe a bit more because of the bench press arch.

I personally never felt any issues going to the floor for 2 arm push ups.
 

somanaut

More than 300 posts
What's wrong with touching the ground with the chest? That's the way the push-ups have always been done around here and how the school and military tests were done etc. Before getting on this forum and reading a certain book on calisthenics, no other option ever crossed my mind.
I don't see anyone representing S1 (or us forum grunts) saying that touching the chest to the floor is wrong, so I don't know where you got that from?
 

Antti

More than 2500 posts
I don't see anyone representing S1 (or us forum grunts) saying that touching the chest to the floor is wrong, so I don't know where you got that from?
Now, now. There is a view that touching a ball on the floor with the chest instead of the floor itself would be the better depth for a push-up. I'm wondering what's the reasoning for that.
 
Top Bottom