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Push-ups; The Perfect Exercise

According to Wikipedia, a push-up (USA English), or a press-up (UK English), is “A common strength training exercise performed in a prone position, lying horizontal and face down, raising and lowering the body using the arms.”

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Push-ups are a used as a basic exercise in civilian athletic training or physical education and, especially, in military physical training and develops the pectoral muscles and triceps, and also benefits the deltoids, serratus anterior, coracobrachialis and the midsection as a whole. Many experts now agree that the push-up may very well be the “perfect exercise”.
Push-ups are one of the basic and most common exercises for the human body. Not only are they great for your chest, but they also do an excellent job of strenghtening and defining your abs, triceps, shoulders and torso. The primary movers [the major muscle groups that produce the motion of a push-up] are the chest and tricep. However, if you take a look at the form your body is in during the perfect push-up, you’ll typically be suspended all the way from your toes up to your neck, so in reality, every muscle between your shoulders and your toes is engaged, including the core muscles, hips, and legs. This means pretty much anyone from beginners to athletes, can reap some benefits from performing them.

If you are a woman doing push-ups has an added benefit;
A push-up is a resistance exercise, so not only are you making your muscles stronger, you also get bone-building effects. It can be as effective as working out with weights.

The great thing about push-ups is that they can be performed no matter where you are, and probably best of all, they are completely free, which means no expensive equipment or monthly gym fees required.

How to perform perfect push-ups;
When you’re first starting out, use a “spotter”, someone to watch the angle of your body. If nobody is around to help, perform your push-ups next to a mirror so you can turn your head and catch a glimpse of your form.
Lie prone on the ground with hands placed as wide or slightly wider than shoulder width. Keeping your body straight, lower your body to the ground by bending your arms at the elbows. Raise your body up off the ground by extending the arms. Repeat, repeat, repeat….

Your body weight should be lifted by your arms. Don’t be use your butt, stomach or the lower half of your body to pull yourself up. To maintain correct body alignment, imagine a straight line running from your head down to your ankles.

For toning muscles you need more repetitions with less body weight, so go for push-ups on your knees or standing at a wall.

Remember that even though push-ups helps tone muscles, it doesn’t do much in the way of cardio benefits, and it’s not gonna help develop the “pull” muscles in your back. So be sure to include other exercises in your regular workouts.

To build muscle mass in your upper arms and back, go for fewer reps with maximum weight load.

Another tip to get the most out of your push-ups: Don’t let your chest actually touch the floor when you come down.
Your chest should come within 5-8 cm (2 to 3 inches) of the floor. Put a textbook, a shoe or whatever you may have laying around (probably better if it’s something soft, compared to say, a rock) underneath you, once you touch it, it’s time to go back up.

Keep making small changes in your routine, like angling your hands or changing how far apart they are. Doing this will help ensure that you keep gaining benefits.

Instructions for “alternative”, or “modified” push ups;

So you’ve tried the “correct” push ups, but can only manage a few before you fall to the floor from exhaustion. No worries, there are some other options that will make it easier for you;

“Knee” push-ups – will reduce the lifting load by about 50%. You can do the same exercise, but do it on your knees. Remember; To keep a straight line from neck to torso is still important, so please pay attention to correct body alignment as you perform your workout.

“Knuckle” push ups – don’t worry, these are not just for the hard-core push-up folks. Some people experience wrist discomfort as they perform normal push-ups, but by doing them on your fists, your body weight ends up on your knuckles instead of your palms, thus avoiding the wrist extension motion. Note: In the beginning it’s more comfortable to perform this type of push-up on a padded mat or a carpet.

“Bench” push-ups – you can also use a low bench or chair to support your arms while you perform either regular push-ups or “knee” push-ups. This type of push-up allows you to really concentrate on the push-up motion without the strain of the regular version. Note: Make sure the bench or chair is stable and secure before you perform the push-ups.

“Wall” push-ups – if all the above options are still too challenging, one final variation exists. The “wall” push-up dramatically reduces the pressure on the arms, upper back and abs. The closer you stand to the wall, the easier they are to perform, but remember, it’s still important to be aware of your body alignment as you perform the “wall” push-up. As you gain strength and confidence, move your feet slightly further away from the wall to make the workout more challenging. Feel free to consider moving to the “bench” or “knee” style-push ups once your initial strength has increased.

There you have it. Now you have no reason not to go do some push-ups. Make that body nice and toned before the summer.

Ps: How many push-ups can you do? I did 50 today and I plan on reaching 100 within the next 2 months. It’s gonna take some effort, but having a goal makes it alot more fun right?!?!

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2 comments on “Push-ups; The Perfect Exercise

  1. Valerie
    May 17, 2013

    Fantastic site. A lot of helpful information here.
    I’m sending it to several buddies ans also sharing in delicious. And obviously, thank you in your sweat!

  2. Pingback: The Ultimate Guide to Push-Up Workouts | Reading In All Seasons

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This entry was posted on May 11, 2013 by in Training and tagged , , , , , .
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