Playing & Training

Robbie Henshaw’s Push Ups, Push it Real Good

Robbie Henshaw

Push ups are easy-to-perform, suitable for all fitness levels and can be done anytime, anywhere without the need for any kit.

As a compound exercise, they use more than one muscle group at the same time. As a result, they’ll give you a great workout, help burn calories, get your blood pumping and leave you feeling energised. A classic press up does more than just work out your arms. They also work wonders for your shoulders (deltoids), chest (pectoralis major), core (rectus abdominis), hips (obliques) and legs (quadriceps).

Therefore, we wanted to give you a nosey into international elite performance push-ups and check-in with Robbie Henshaw to determine 4 push ups that he would practice, whilst at home.

Before we let Robbie take it away, these push ups are of moderate to high ratings, so please be careful when attempting them at home.

Take it away Robbie…

What different types of push-ups would you recommend and what are the difference they do to areas of your upper body?

1.Standard push up (hands shoulder width apart & elbows tight) – this works the chest, shoulders, and core area of the body.

Thinking about a push-up as a moving plank is really helpful. The correct setup for a standard push-up is to position your hands shoulder-width apart, or a little bit wider. As you bend your elbows and lower toward the ground, your elbows should be at about a 45-degree angle to your body. Your fingers should be splayed, with your middle fingers pointing toward 12 o’clock.

Robbie’s rating: moderate.

2. Triangle push up (hands & elbows narrow with hands joining up making triangle shape) – this focuses primarily on working the triceps and shoulders.

Place your hands on the floor below your chest with your index fingers and thumbs touching to form a triangle, arms straight. With your torso straight and your back flat, lower your body as close to the ground as you can, bending your elbows back along your torso.

Robbie’s rating: Hard

3. Clap push up (hands shoulder width apart) – this focuses on power and speed. It develops the chest, triceps, and shoulder muscles.

This variation is excellent for building explosive strength, as you press your body off the ground with speed and power to bring your hands together and back down to the ground. Lower yourself with control, then as you explode off the ground, make sure you are maintaining good alignment in your body. Do not let everything go “loosey-goosey” as you clap mid-air.

Robbie’s rating: Hard

4. Spiderman push up – these focus on strengthening the core along with developing the chest and shoulders muscles.

Stay low to the ground as you move forward. There is a tendency to let the hips come up, so be careful about that. Keep the rear elbow pinned in tight to the body.

The spiderman push-up is a great way to build motor control, mobility, and coordination. Like the walking push-up, this is a good variation for grapplers.

Robbie’s rating: Hard

How many press ups and how many reps would you recommend for increasing your fitness levels each time?

I would recommend starting off with 5 push ups and trying to complete 3 sets or rounds of the exercise.

You should start to see strength improvements quickly, so gradually increase the reps to 8 and then to 10 reps.

The goal would be to build up to 10/12 push ups for 5 sets. With a 2-minute break in between each set.

What is your favourite type of push up and your tips for getting the technique right?

My favourite type of push up is the Clap push up because it works my chest and shoulder muscles while it also helps develop my upper body Power. 

Tips for getting this right: is to have your hands shoulder width apart. Slowly lower yourself to the ground making sure your back and core is switched on. Push yourself as quickly and as explosively as you can. Before landing clap your hands. The landing aspect also helps shoulder stability, I used this exercise in my shoulder rehabilitation program.

How many reps would you recommend?

I would complete 6 reps by 3 sets of this exercise.



Writer and expert