Yoga for Posture – 11 – Plank Push Ups

Okay, we’ve done the primary back muscles with Baby Cobra. We’ve done the butt muscles with Bridge. We’ve gone twice ‘round on the core with Dead Bug and some tougher variations on Dead Bug.

Then, we began to stretch with Dragon Lunge, and continued with Downward Dog, Squatted Downward Dog and moved on to Puppy to decompress the spine. Then we stretched your pectoral muscles with Scorpion Twists. Now it starts to get hard.

Wait, wut? NOW it starts to get hard?

Well, yeah. So far everything we’ve done involved working with muscles you already use. You may not use them well, or enough, but you use them. Now I want to do what one of my posture guru’s calls, “giving your shoulder its job back.”

See, as we hunch our way through life, hunching over to eat, to drive, to work on the computer, etc., we take our shoulders’ job away. Those little muscles between your shoulder blades? They become weak, shorten and immobile. The muscles of your rotator cuff? They become weak, shorten and immobile. I introduced the scorpion twist because the exact same thing happens to your pectoral muscles.

So, if the muscles of our rotator cuffs and mid/upper back are forgetting how to do their jobs, we have to remind them. One way to do this is Plank Push Ups. Or, if you prefer, Straight Armed Push Ups.

The exercise is really simple:

  • Take a plank pose
  • Concentrate, hard, on locking your elbows
  • Do a push up

Simple, right? Yeah, but not easy.

To do this, you have to relax between the shoulder blades to drop your weight as low as possible, then tighten the same muscles to raise as high as possible.

Doing this will force your shoulder blades in (as you lower) and out (as you rise), returning strength and mobility to the muscles between the shoulder blades and the spine.


  • If this is too hard in a full plank (full push up position), try it from a knee push up position.
  • If it’s still too hard as a knee push up, try it from table top position; with your knees directly under your hips, shin bones to the floor.
  • Start with the easiest form, and work your way up from there. It took time to lose the strength and mobility, it will take time to get it back

Give your shoulders their jobs back. As you do scorpion twists to stretch in the front, do straight arm push ups to return strength to the back. And look forward to next time when things start to really suck.