Strength Training Sundays: A+ Pushups (Back to Basics)

"It's just like landing on an aircraft carrier!"

On any given Saturday morning, round abouts 3:30 am, anyone who happened to be cruising through a tiny neck of the woods in Rhode Island would be likely to come across Mr. Caron, the infamous XC/Track coach and health teacher of Ponaganset High School, diligently raking the trails of the school’s cross country course or setting out orange cones on the track by the light of the high beams on his ancient white van with a grin on his face. This sight might give you pause, and the occasion to ask yourself, “Why?” The answer would of course invariably be, “Because it’s Mr. Caron. That’s why.”

In honor of Mr. Caron and his incredible commitment to his students and athletes over the years, I’d like to dedicate this first iteration of the hopefully regularly recurring “Strength Training Sundays” to a technique that will be forever burned into my brain: A+ Pushups. If you were to ask me to sum up the essence of A+ Pushups, I would probably respond with the old Mr. Caron adage that has been shouted across the track since somewhere around the Beginning of Time (since that’s when Mr. Caron started coaching) – “IT’S JUST LIKE MAKING FRENCH FRIES!!!”

My focus in strength training, much like my initial focus in all sports when I’m just starting out, has always been on achieving perfect technique. Obviously, this approach was the right idea in fencing, but I think it applies even more to strength training. After all, if the whole point of strength training is to use particular exercises to focus on individual muscles, then what is the point of using crummy form that lets you use other muscles as a crutch? Unless you’re doing an exercise correctly, you’re only working the right muscles less than 100%, and that’s just not good enough. But when you do it right, that’s what we would call “A+ form”.

The basic pushup can be an immensely helpful piece of ammunition in your arsenal, especially if done right. Not only does it work most of the major muscle groups in your upper extremities (triceps, pectorals, deltoids, etc.), but it also does wonders for your core muscles and stability.

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