As teachers and coaches, we are given the responsibility of educating our students and athletes on proper movement and technique in the gym. Often, this is a much more difficult task than it first appears. Take the push-up for example: one of the most basic strength movements out there, it can still be difficult to teach the push-up to an audience with a wide range of abilities and experience.

First, how do you describe the movement and its standards so that everyone understands proper form from the beginning? This is where coaching cues come into play. As Coach Max describes in the video, we are looking for non-internally rotated shoulders – so he uses the cue of “elbows back, not elbows out”. This gives the athlete understandable cueing that he or she can actually use while performing the pushup.

Beyond cueing for perfect technique, you must provide scaling options for athletes of different ability. What if an athlete cannot do more than one perfect rep, how do you scale the movement in order to accomplish the appropriate volume? Providing alternatives is key, just as Coach Max does by utilizing a box of varying heights to adjust difficulty without altering the foundational movement itself. Here are a few scaling variations.

When it comes to coaching and teaching fitness, even the basics can seem difficult. But, with proper cues and scaling options you can safely and efficiently teach any movement to any audience.