Push-ups and rows are a staple in any workout program. Done correctly, both of these exercises can potentially build strength, endurance, and power in the upper body. In the lateral push-up, one side (the working side) performs about 90% of the work, while the other side (the non-working side) really only helps to keep you stable through the movement. When these exercises are combined, the additional challenge of core stability is presented. However, to get the maximum benefit, both of these movements must be performed with Pure Form in a coordinated effort.
The lateral push-up begins with both hands on the floor, wide and outside the shoulders and your feet or knees should be together. The fingers on the non-working side can be turned out so they point to the side. Your body should be flat from your shoulders to your fulcrum point (either your toes or knees). Brace your core, pull your bellybutton to your spine, and you are ready to lower yourself toward the floor.
Keeping the forearm of your working arm vertical, and your upper arm about 45 degrees from your torso, drop your bodyweight to the working side until your elbow reaches 90 degrees (you may go lower depending on your strength and shoulder mobility). The angle of the upper arm determines what muscles are primarily used in the push-up. The closer the elbow to the torso, the more the triceps are used and the farther the elbow from the body, the more the pectorals are used. If your upper arm is 90 degrees from your torso, you use more deltoid and run the risk of injuring your shoulder.
From the bottom, drive down through your palm and push yourself back to center. As you reach the top you will want to keep your shoulder stabilized in preparation for the transition to the row.
Once you have reached the top of the pushup you will need to put your body into a stable position for the row. The way we do this is by moving the hand of the non-working arm to the floor just beneath the center of the chest while simultaneously moving the foot of the working side outward in the same direction. If you were on your knees, you will switch to your toes for the row. Once in position you will notice your feet and hand create a triangular shape. If your hand isn’t in the center at the time of your row, then you will have a more difficult time pulling the weight off the floor.
Once you have a solid triangular base of support, you are ready to row. To begin the row, pull your shoulder blade to your spine and, keeping your forearm vertical, drive your elbow up (pull your triceps toward your spine). While performing the row, keep your hips flat and try not to rotate around your spine.
Remember, just because you have lifted a certain weight in a row, doesn’t mean you can lift that weight in a plank row. The first thing you should check in your movement is your stability. Address that before you change anything else in the movement. If you need to add stability, then do so. Just don’t sacrifice range of motion to try and look like you’re doing the movement. Good form translates to good strength.