"I love these for shoulder stability"—Ryan Reynolds’ trainer shares an unusual push-up variation and explains how to build up to it

Build an iron core and bulletproof shoulders with this test of stability from Don Saladino

A man exercising with a resistance band
(Image credit: Getty Images / Nick David)

Ryan Reynolds is in great shape—most people fronting Marvel movies are. Don Saladino is the man responsible for helping him fill out his famously tight Deadpool suit. 

A top-level trainer like Saladino should be expected to have a few tricks up his sleeve. And he proved it recently, introducing me to an exercise I’d never heard of before: the earthquake push-up. 

It’s very similar to a normal push-up—you’re holding a high plank position, lowering your body then pushing yourself back up. But this time your hands are resting on a quivering resistance band rather than a firm floor, providing a major stability test for your core and shoulders. 

If you’re not ready for this advanced move, Saladino also suggests a couple of ways you can build up to it.

How to do the earthquake push-up

  • Loop a thick resistance band around two horizontal, parallel, secure anchor points. Saldino uses the spotter arms on a squat rack. The band should be lightly taught and just below hip height. 
  • Get into a push-up position with your hands on the band and your feet on the floor. Your hands should be roughly beneath your shoulders, and your body should form a straight line from your head to your heels. 
  • Slowly lower your chest to the band, then push yourself back up to the starting position. Your muscles will have to work harder than they would during a standard push-up to keep you stable. 
  • For an extra challenge, you can place your feet on an elevated surface like a weight bench.

Saladino opens his earthquake push-up Instagram post with a disclaimer: "Do not do these if you struggle with the push-up. Do not do these if you have a weak [resistance] band. You’ve got to do these at your own risk."

But if you do, there are a few benefits beyond what a standard push-up can bring. 

"I love these [earthquake push-ups} because it forces a lot of shoulder stability," Saladino says. Your core is working overtime to keep your body steady too.

How to build up to the earthquake push-up

"If you’re unable to do the earthquake push-up yet, we’re going to either go to a [standard] floor push-up or an elevated push-up," says Saladino. 

To do an elevated push-up, perform the move with your hands on a sturdy raised surface like a weight bench or couch. Elevating your hands will take some load away from your chest, triceps and the front of your shoulders, making the exercise slightly less challenging. The higher your hands, the easier the move will be. 

The knee push-up (where your knees are on the ground during the move) is another way to make this move easier, but Saladino doesn’t recommend using it to prepare for the earthquake push-up. 

This is because he sees a push-up as a "moving plank", requiring full-body tightness to maintain the correct positions. Push-up variations where you keep your legs and torso straight by squeezing your glutes and core are a more effective way of practicing this. 

"Once you have around 10 clean and safe [standard] push-ups down, then we can start trying to work on the earthquake push-up and other variations," advises Saladino.

Harry Bullmore
Fitness Writer

Harry Bullmore is a Fitness Writer for Fit&Well and its sister site Coach, covering accessible home workouts, strength training session, and yoga routines. He joined the team from Hearst, where he reviewed products for Men's Health, Women's Health, and Runner's World. He is passionate about the physical and mental benefits of exercise, and splits his time between weightlifting, CrossFit, and gymnastics, which he does to build strength, boost his wellbeing, and have fun.

Harry is a NCTJ-qualified journalist, and has written for Vice, Learning Disability Today, and The Argus, where he was a crime, politics, and sports reporter for several UK regional and national newspapers.