Must Do Exercises Part 3

Chapter 3: Push-ups for Core and much more!

Another “no machine needed” metabolism boosting exercise is the push-ups! The push-up is used in many disciplines. From Yoga to Boot Camp and everything in between, the push-up is a staple of all exercise programs!

The push-up engages all of the core muscles as well as all of the pushing muscles on the frontal plane of the body. Abdominals, lower back, deltoids, pectorals, triceps and even some of the legs are worked when performing a proper push-up. Just like the previous exercises, push-ups can be done effectively and most often are done ineffectively.

Here’s what NOT to do:
don’t turn a push-up into the worm
don’t stop before your chest grazes the floor
don’t go faster than a speeding bullet
don’t get saggy in the middle

Here’s what you SHOULD do:
move slowly though the entire range of motion
keeps abdominals tight the entire time
do as many good ones with straight legs then try the bent knee version
lower your body until your chest touches the ground
keep your hands a little wider than shoulder width
keep you body in a straight, tight alignment
Practice planks if you have trouble doing the full push-up

You have probably seen more people do a bad or ineffective push-up than you have a good one! Most likely, you have seen the half ranges of motions and the very fast movers do push-ups Too bad they are missing the best part of push-ups: the abdominal work it provides!

Push-ups start out like planks, and end up looking like hovers. There’s no mistaking plank and hovers as Pilates and even Yoga moves. Core, all core! If you have ever done a plank, you know how the abdominals and lower back get worked! Imagine that feeling in the core as you lower your body then push it pack up again! That’s a lot of work for those core muscles! If you go only half way down on the push-up you miss most of the abdominal work! I guess that’s ok if you enjoy crunches and extra workouts to get your abs in shape, or if you like shoulder injuries that keep you from your workouts. But, if you want better abdominals in less time, then get your chest to the floor on your push-ups!

If you cannot do a straight leg push-up, then do modified (knees bent) and do several “reverse negatives” to get used to the straight leg feel. In a reverse negative, you start at the bottom position, laying flat, belly to the ground, arms outside shoulder width and toes on the floor then push-up to the plank position. Of course you can also do the opposite-start with a plank and then lower until you are resting on the floor. Either way will help build strength for the push-up. But, like the it’s antagonist sister the pull-up, full straight leg pushups must be done! A few repetitions or even just 2 will work more of your body than a set of 15 half push-ups.

With this knowledge, you’ll never look at a push-up the same way again! Is the push-up the same as doing a bench press or dumbbell press? It is a tad closer than the pull-up is to the front pulldown, but not much! The stabilization of the core and lower body are missing from the weighted versions. Stabilization equals abdominal and lower back work!

No time for a workout? Then hit the floor and do push-ups! If you can’t do a full set of straight leg push-ups, don’t worry about it! You can do 1 or 2 full straight leg good solid push-ups and rest a while then repeat. Eventually, you will be strong enough to do more.

Added benefits of push-ups are the work they give the shoulders and triceps as well as the abdominals. Some people end up using too much shoulders and not enough chest when doing push-ups! Make sure you are not one of them! You should feel that you are pushing with your chest. Yes, you may feel some of the shoulders and triceps, but you should mostly feel the chest, especially the outer area, under the armpits.

If your hand placement is too close you will not work the chest. Do you know the difference between a bench press and a close grip bench press? The bench press has a wide grip, outside shoulder width, to work the chest as the primary mover. A close grip bench press isolates the triceps and minimizes the chest and shoulder involvement. That hand positioning makes a huge difference in which muscles are worked. Be sure to remember that when setting up for a push-up!

Bottom line benefits:

  • Upper body gets worked
  • muscles get strong and tight
  • Can be done anywhere
  • Solid calorie burnerCore
  • Metabolism boosted
  • Body fat burned