Pushups. One of the most common exercises on the planet. Trainers do them. Trainers dish them out. But why? Are they really that good for you?
Well the simple answer is “YES” because when done correctly they deliver big bang for your buck. One of the oldest exercises in the book will work several muscles groups all at once. Now that’s worth it I think. It is not just an exercise to work your shoulders, triceps and chest. Importantly it is also a great work-out for your core, back, glutes and inner thighs (yes, inner thighs!). You can spice up your workout using different variations of the humble push up and up the intensity by increasing the load. So let’s stop thinking about pushups as just an arm workout and start giving it full respect as a full body workout.
How to do the pushup correctly:
Hands just outside your shoulders, elbows aiming on a 45 degree angle towards your hips (this is important!) and keep your body parallel as you lower. You are starting in a full plank position so engage your core. You’ve probably heard all of this before right?
Now what’s the secret to making pushups really work for you?
Do your shoulders hurt more than your chest? Well I will let you in on my little secret. If you aim your chest down on an angle as you lower, try and bring your body slightly forward as you come down, you will load the chest and there is more of chance your elbows will stay in the right spot. Hitting your chest and triceps which is the main aim. Don’t get me wrong, they are great for making your shoulders “pop” but this is where most people go wrong. What is also likely to happen if you don’t pull your weight forward as you lower? Your bum could end up in the air, which means no ab work. Now everyone wants more ab work right?
Variations of pushups:
My favourite part! You can focus on whatever muscle you want depending on what you want to achieve. Manipulation at it’s best LOL
Put your hands narrower and slightly closer to your ribs. See you later tuck shop arms. Make way for my triceps please!
You want to nail the shoulders? Yeah me too! Take your hands out wide. This is going to hurt (all in a good way). All same principals apply to doing the pushup though.
Hands on the fitball, and depending on your level, you can have your feet on the ground or feet on a bench. This is going to take more of the focus to your core and stability muscles in your shoulders. I am all for functional training and things that look cool, so you will see me doing this ones from time to time.
You want to add more load without putting a weight on your back? Sure. Feet on a bench and hands on the ground. Wahla! You have load. Everything is working harder here because you are heavier (in a good way!)
You can start on your knees if all of the above is a bit too scary and you are new to doing pushups or new to doing them correctly 🙂 All rules apply as above but just have your knees on the ground. These pushups are important to master first before starting with any of the above circus tricks.
Happy pushups everyone!