The Hip Hinge Forearm Push-Up is another great bodyweight conditioning movement that serves as an awesome exercise by itself, while also preparing your body for more advanced progressions. The human body is an incredible network of levers that act together to create movement in all directions. We can change the leverage at a joint to increase or decrease the difficulty of a given task or movement. In the Hip Hinge Forearm Push Up, we are using the position of the hips to increase the load in the shoulders and elbow extensors (triceps). Our bodies and gravity are our best tools. Give this variation a shot and you’ll see what I mean right away. (See instructional video at end of this post).
Set Up: Corkscrew Rotation
Beginning in your push up position, we initiate the exercise by first “setting” the scapula. We use a technique called the corkscrew, which is an isometric external rotation of the humerus (upper arm). So if you were in a push up position, you would create tension outward (right hand clockwise, left hand counter clockwise). Since the hands are planted, the movement will show up as the inside of the elbows rotate forward.
This external rotation of the humerus in the shoulder joint not only opens up the anterior capsule of the shoulder, which is good for impingement issues, but also stabilizes the arm connection to the shoulder, as well as the shoulder girdle to the torso.
Flexing and Hinging Movements
Once the body is set and stable, we can begin the actual movement. There are two joint movements that take place simultaneously. The hips hinge or unlock at the same time that the elbows begin to flex. This hinging at the hips pushes load down into the shoulders, which travels down the arm into the elbow and finally continues down into the hand contact with the ground. The elbows will continue to flex, bringing the elbows down towards the ground, shifting the weight from our hands into the forearms. Once the forearms are in complete contact with the ground, the hands should be completely off of the ground.
The next phase of the movement is once again a perfect integration of joint activity from the hips, shoulders, elbows and wrists. As we shift our contact back from the forearms to the hands, we will drop the hips back into alignment with the shoulders and heels. The rolling from the forearms to the hands will pop the elbows back up to either side of the torso. It’s important to keep the elbows pulled in tight towards the body. At the bottom position, there should be a straight line from the head down to the ankles. The elbows should be locked in close to the ribcage and we should still create some external isometric force with our corkscrew maneuver. From here, simply push back up to your start position.
It’s the roll from the hands down to the forearms, and from the forearms back up to the hands that will have a high carry over to some advanced arm balances. In particular, this movement will help you progress toward performing the impressive tiger bend movement, which requires transitioning between a handstand and a forearm stand.
Remember, getting the most out of your bodyweight training is all about proper progression and variation. Try adding the Hip Hinge Forearm Push Up into your next horizontal pushing workout, the next time you want to blow up those triceps or add it to your forearm balance routine.
And if you are interested in learning more about hand balancing progressions, keep an eye out for our new full-length video on Hand Balancing for the Bodyweight Athlete, to be released this Spring! You can also check out some of our previous tutorials listed below.
Handbalancing is an art that requires lots of practice. Check out some of these other tutorials on hand balancing and related push-up variations as you work on progressing your practice: