You don’t need to join the Army to get the benefits of doing push ups. Push ups strengthen the chest and arm muscles and can be easily scaled as you get stronger. You can also start easy by elevating your hands, for instance by gripping a rail. If you are starting out and have little upper body strength, the early days of doing 1 or 2 terrible ones will soon pass. After a few weeks of a daily HIIT routine you will be doing a dozen or more perfect press ups. Your body weight will fall and your strength will increase, perfect for more and more press ups!
Ultimate Guide to Push Ups
The key to a good press up is hand position and the straightness of the body. It is a PUSH up and not a CURVE up!
- Walking down to the push up position is a really great addition.
- Keep your body straight (your ass should not be in the air!)
- Put your feet close together (the stance can be wider if balance is an issue).
- Head slightly up..
- Palms open and forward, fingers gripped to the ground. Your hands are positioned so your thumbs are in line with your nipples. Slightly wider than shoulder width.
- Your elbows are squeezed close to your body (your left hand at 11 o’clock and your right hand at 1 o’clock will bring your elbows in).
- Contract your core and squeeze your buttocks (engaging your glutes).
- Breathe out as you push upwards. Inhale as you go down. Keep your breathing in rhythm with the movements.
- The movements should be controlled. Your shoulders and chest muscles will work in union.
- Do not bounce of the ground in the lower position, keep an inch away from ground.
The Benefits of Push Ups
The following muscle groups are worked when doing push ups:
- Pectoral muscles (chest).
- The deltoids (shoulders).
- Triceps (back of the arm) to a lesser extent.
- Biceps (front of the arm) to a much lesser extent.
- Abdominal (as you are effectively in a plank position).
- Gluteus (buttocks) is responsible for holding the hips in place and prevents the spine from dropping.
Muscle groups worked with Push Ups
Increasing your push up numbers
Let’s say you can typically do 30 push ups with good form. You can boost this to 30 with visualisation and breathing exercises.
- Stand up and relax your arms.
- Take 10 slow DEEP breaths.
- Put your arms into a push up position (still standing) and perform the motion of the last 10 push ups, closing your eyes and counting 30, 31, 32….40 whilst breathing. You are visualising performing those 10 extra push ups.
- Drop to the floor and do the 40. You will be amazed at the improvement.
- If you can only do 10 push ups, then visualise the last 5 and count to 15. You can typically add 20-30% to your best score.
Push Ups Variations
- Pivot from the knees if your are struggling with full push ups, or are tired.
- Elevate your feet with a box or a step.
- Accelerate each push so the hands leave the floor slightly.
- Widen the hands as much as possible (this puts more pressure on the tissue structure as well as the ligaments and shoulder joint)
- Use your clenched knuckles instead of the palms of your hand (these require more strength in the arms and wrists).
- Spiderman push ups.
Push ups are a great strength and fitness indicator. Monitor how many push ups you can do over time. you will be amazed with your improvements.