Have you ever done push-ups and wondered why people talk of incredible results within a certain time limit…
yet you see no many positive results even after doubling the duration you were told to reach the set goal? Do you always do these pushups and feel your arms hardly bending and your hips hitting the ground? This is probably the reason why you do these exercises forever but no results are realized. You are doing it the wrong way.
A push-up is one of the workouts that involves the total body functional movement with a great resultant increase in strength. It is also characterized by the engagement of the core together with the lower body. The workout is a bodyweight type of exercise thus can be done virtually anywhere. The ton of variations that comes with this form of exercise will liven things up for anyone who learns how to do it right. Therefore, whether you have unsuccessfully been trying out this workout, or your zeal for the workout drives you to fine-tune your form, there are details below that will help you perfect your push-ups.
Benefits Of Push-Ups
Just like any other forms of exercise, push-ups have their pros and cons with the cons only being present when the exercise is not done right. Upon your readiness to build strength as well as in your quest to get a toned core & upper core, push ups are your ultimate destination. You will not need any fancy equipment to achieve your goals. With just a single simple exercise, anyone can work numerous muscle groups, increasing the difficulty as they get stronger. With experience, push-ups can be worked into a high intensity exercise for calorie burning. With these said, below are the benefits that come with properly done push-ups:
1. It Targets Multiple Muscle Groups
Also known as press-ups, push-ups are enlisted among compound exercises which means that the use of more than a single joint and muscle groups are involved during the workout process. For one to do pushups, their chest, arms, abs, back, shoulders and legs together with all joints moving upon the movement of these muscles have to be active for the movement to be complete.
During the workout, the chest muscles are always the main movers with the triceps on the upper arm and the shoulder muscles also play major roles. The abs, the erector spine muscle, the oblique and the quadriceps are all in motion thus getting stabilized during the movement.
2. Push-Ups Can Be Done Anywhere
There is no better benefits to someone trying to build their muscle tone and strength than their ability to workout anywhere and at any time. Furthermore, if there are no equipment needed in the workouts, the benefits become more significant since even the poorest in the society will have no excuse for not exercising. All these characteristics are attributed to push-ups. You can do it out in the local park during your jogging routine or in the kitchen floor as you wait for the water to boil. You can even do a few push-ups in the bathroom before taking your shower.
Just imagine that time in the office when you are feeling too unproductive and in need of some exercises. Push-ups will do you good.
3. Great Workout For Core Strength Buildup
Contrary to what many people think that push-ups are just for building chest strength, this form of exercise is also an important ingredient in the stabilization of one’s body thus achieving a perfect form. During pushups, the core muscles, including the lower back, oblique and abs will work hard thus strengthening them. A strong core means more than just toned abs but also prevents back-pain and promotes good posture.
4. Push-Ups Burn Plenty Of Calories
Most people don’t consider strength exercises as great calorie burners. The truth is that they can be. Due to the great involvement of the numerous body muscles, more calories will be torched during the workout. In fact, more calories will be burnt than when an exercise that uses just a single or two muscle groups The more muscle being used during the workouts, the more energy one’s body will require for the movements hence more calories are burnt: simple physics. More energy will be burnt when doing pushups than when crunches, bench presses and triceps push downs are done.
5. Easy To Do And To Modify
The existence of the many variations of push-up only proves the fact that the workout can be modified even into a game. Push-up can be done with a fist on the ground. Alternatively, the hand, 5,4,3,2 fingers can be used as well as making claws out of your fingers when doing the pushups, just to mention but a few. It will thus hardly be a boring exercise.
6. Muscle Stretching Thus Enhanced Health And Vitality
Many don’t even know that push-ups stretch their back muscles and biceps. When lowering your body to the ground, the back muscles effectively become stretched whereas the biceps obtain their full stretch when you push up to the starting position. This is good for flexibility as well as injury prevention not forgetting the solid and attractive appearance that results.
7. Enhancement of the Cardiovascular System
Due to the fact that large muscle groups are involved during the pushups process, the heart is in turn subjected to more work of pumping the blood to and for all these muscles at an increased frequency. In other words, the cardiovascular system will also be worked out thus promoting the health of the heart.
8. Promotes HGH Production thus Increase of the Body Muscle Definition
A wide range of primary together with stabilizing muscles is greatly engaged during the movements. And since the Human growth hormone (HGH) is always produced when muscles workout, the utilization of more muscle groups in the body during this form of workout implies that more HGH will be produced. This gives you a general masculine good look.
The Most Common Push-Up Mistakes
Lower Back Pain From Push-Ups
I. Doing the Push-Ups the Wrong Way
First of all, it is worth noting that the back is one of the most fragile areas of any person’s body. This is due to the fact that small bones, muscles tendons and ligaments are located in this area. With the slightest wrong move and miscalculation, it is more likely to cause injury.. It is, therefore, important to understand that when incorrectly done, pain can result. The question is, “what is the bad form of doing pushups?”
II. The Bad Form
Primarily, pushups work the chest, shoulders and triceps, which are all upper body parts. It is, therefore, common to find people concentrating their efforts on these three parts and forgetting to ensure that the lower parts are in the right form during the workout. The misdoing on the lower parts is primarily always noticed at the hip area. Do not let your hips sag when you are lowering yourself as this places excessive stress on the athlete’s spine thus potentially leading to a flared up back pain.
III. Correct Form
There is more to push ups than just meets the eye. As you are moving up and down, be sure to take the spine alignment into consideration. When on the starting position, ensure that a straight line is formed from shoulders to the heels. This pose is referred to as the plank pose in the yoga nomenclature.
When lowering down, this straight postural alignment needs to be maintained. This can only be done by keeping the quads and abs engaged. Stoppage is when the chest reaches right above the ground after which, in a steady motion, you push yourself back and repeat the same procedure a number of times.
IV. Weak Abs
The abs need to be tightened and maintained in a process called bracing. If you have weak abs, it is almost certain that your hips will sag during push-ups. Bracing the abs not only improves one’s performance during pushups but also stabilizes one’s spine throughout the day. In return, the risks of lower back pain are reduced.
Some of the exercises that are essential for bracing include leg raise, sit-ups, and side crunches together with dead bugs, all of which work in combination to strengthen the entire abdominal area. For a corrective back pain exercise, the dead bug is the solution.
V. Excessive Abdominal Weight
Excessive weight in the stomach area strains the lower back a great deal. The same way this excessive stomach weight hurts your lower back while you are standing, the predicament is the same when you are doing the push-ups. Just reduce your stomach fat and you will have greatly reduced or even cured back-pain effects when doing push-ups. Cardiovascular exercises will help you lose weight.
VI. Existing Back Pain
This is self-explanatory. You expect that if you have a back-pain history and condition, you will suffer from the same even if you are doing these workouts right. The solution to this is the use of a recumbent bike during your healing process.
Summary of the Push-up Mistakes
a. Concentration Is Only On The Push
Even though the move is referred to as push-up, it doesn’t imply that the descent should be ignored. Never allow the descent to be controlled by gravity as the lowering portion of the workout is also essential in building strength too.
When at the starting position, imagine you are digging your hands in the ground by grabbing it using all the five fingers. This will turn on the lats you will use in pulling the chest down toward the ground. The lats are the biggest back muscles thus activation helps in both lowering and powering up.
b. The Space Between The Hands Is Too Wide
Placing your hands too far apart from each other is a sneaky way that one employs to reduce the work done. This is because the distance from the body to the ground is shortened. Much emphasis is also put on the chest thus increasing the stress on the shoulders.
The palms should be placed directly beneath the shoulders as this makes sure that your elbows are tucked very close to your sides. With elbows close to your sides, the triceps and the chest will get the best workout results. This makes the workout harder but saves the shoulders and makes you stronger in the long run.
c. Hands Pointing Inward And Too Close To Each Other
It is common to find people having their hands in the inward formation when doing pushups. The fingers are made to slightly face each other and the hands closer to each other. This can throw off your arms and elbow angles as well as cause shoulder pain.
The hands should be perpendicular with your shoulders with your arms and elbows facing straight out. This will reduce the risks of shoulder strain as well as make you more stable.
d. You Are Not Shaking The Tension Out
The Tightness of muscles occurs when high amounts of tension are created with load or volume. Your argument may be that tension leads to size and strength gains but the truth is that the same tension can also lead to pain and imbalances if it isn’t released after the workout. Keeping arms under tension for longer may make you walk around with shoulders that are pulled out.
Bridge stretch performance on a Swiss ball in between sets helps reduce the tension. This will stretch out your shoulders, chest, core and even the lats
e. Your Neck Wobbles
Doug Nepodal, a physical trainer and instructor call these wobbles the chicken neck. Neck wobbles happen when your arms and chest are both tied with your neck jutting outside towards the floor. Looks silly, is it? But this can be a major contributor of a misaligned spine not to mention that it also increases injury chances a great deal. The complete push-up involves the chest touching the floor and not the nose.
Have a body that forms a straight line from the head running down to the ankles. Remember to keep the body aligned all through the workout time.
f. Not Doing A Full Rep
- For you to learn how to do a full rep, you need to know what a full rep is. Upon having placed your hand perpendicularly with the shoulder and ensuring that your body is in an aligned position from head to ankle, go down and let your chest hit the ground before moving back to the starting position. If you don’t get your chest to the ground, then you are doing an incomplete rep.
g. Trying An Impossible Variation At Your Level
- There are many push up variations which will be discussed below with each having different body weights. Don’t go for the bodyweight styles that you aren’t able to withstand at your level. Do easier push-up variations instead.
The Best Push-Up Variations
The functionality of push-ups is what almost makes them a gold standard of nearly all the major forms of athletics and athlete’s programs. There are a number of push-up variations that one can choose from depending on the form of athletics, level of experience and interests among others. Below are 20 of the best Push-up variations.
1) The Wide-Grip Push-Up
The chest is the target area of this push up variation. The process involves starting the push-ups from the normal push-up posture but slowly and steadily spreading the hands out thus having a resultant hand-to-hand space that is wider than the standard shoulder-to-shoulder length. This ultimately forces the chest to do most of the work that would otherwise has been done by the shoulders and triceps hence stronger chest.
2) Narrow-grip push-Up (Close Push-Ups)
The triceps are targeted here. With the hands closer than the standard shoulder-to-shoulder distance, and just a few inches apart beneath your chest, do the normal push-ups. This transfers most of the workload from the shoulders and chest thereby leading to more pronounced triceps.
This is a full body workout with the load spread throughout all the body parts used during push-ups. Start from the push-up position. Lift one hand straight in the air thus making a T-shape with your body with your eyes being locked on the raised hand for some minutes. Repeat with the other hand and add dumbbells for increased workout intensity. This push-up variation hammers the chest, shoulders, opens the thoracic spine and builds core rotational power.
4) Single-leg Push-Up
The core and the upper body are highly intensified hence is the target. Do a set while lifting one of your legs off the ground and switch your legs with subsequent sets. The upper body ends up doing more work hence faster results.
5) Feet-elevated Push-Ups (Decline Push-Up)
Same as with the single-leg push-up, the target is also the intensification of the work done by the upper body together with the core. The feet are elevated on a stable platform such as a bench and normal pushups follow. The higher the platform for raising the legs, the more the work is done by the core, chest, shoulders and the scapular stabilizers (muscles connecting your shoulders, neck and midback)
6) Incline Push-Up
This variant is the direct opposite of the decline option. Whereas in the decline it is the feet that are raised on a bench, in the case of incline, the hands are raised. Instead of your legs being on the box, let your hands be. This is the easiest form of pushups, easier than the regular variant and would be recommended for the beginners who are not yet able to endure resistance withregular pushups.
7) Single-Arm Medicine Ball Push-Up
This targets the shoulders, pecs and the arms. Do a set of workout on a small medicine ball using one arm and switch the hands with any subsequent sets. The routine challenges your stability thus forcing you to not only rely on the brute strength but also much more.
8) Push-Up with Arm Reach
With the use of Valslides or sideboards, one arm is slid out in the front of the exerciser as they lower their body till attaining the position where the elbow is locked straight. Switch the arms for the subsequent reps.
9) Atomic Push-Up
For a stronger chest and core, do the Atomic push-ups. With your feet placed in a suspension trainer for elevation, do a push-up subsequently followed by bringing your knees close to the chest. According to Yeung, the Atomic push-ups slash lots of fat as it hammers your core and chest. With the entire body in motion, the workout becomes metabolically demanding.
10) One-Leg Push-Up
This push-up is for those who want to strengthen their chests and arms. The arms are kept in a wider position than the position for normal push-ups with one leg being raised up on the front. It is a great variant for stability and balance, don’t forget that it makes the abs, chest, shoulders and arms stronger than the regular variant.
11) Clap Push-Up
This is yet another push up that primarily intends to broaden the chest. At the push up peak, the exerciser pushes himself up, higher off the floor and quickly slapping in midair. The resultant is a fast jolting force between the clapping and the push-ups thus helping one to progressively develop power while increasing the pecs bulk thereby giving you a superhero chest.
12) Fingertip Push-Ups
This is done by raising yourself on your fingers. This adds a new element to the exercise as it involves a slew of some of the most neglected muscles. It also creates more space between you and the ground thus allowing you to go lower and in return increasing your motion range. You can try reducing the number of fingers supporting the body on the ground, from 5 to 4 to 3 and lastly to 2. It’s worth noting that in this style, it is not the tip of the finger that is in contact with the ground but rather the finger pads.
13) Claw Push-Ups
This is an advanced fingertip variant having some similarities.The only difference is the fact that whereas in the finger tip variant, the finger pad is in contact with the floor, in the case of the claw-push ups, it is the fingertips. It is, therefore, the best tool that any advanced grip trainer can rely upon.
14) Handstand Push-Ups
In the case of this variant, the exerciser assumes the handstand or rather vertical position before doing the push-ups. The legs hung on the air, perpendicularly to the ground with the hands doing the standing. The standard handstand push-ups will be performed when you are in a free standing position but if balancing is an issue, you can opt to support you feet on a wall. This form of exercise is great in helping improve the biceps and the abs.
15) Plyometric Push-Ups Onto Box
This involves the addition of a few boxes between your hands and the ground surface. The resultant is a workout that results in explosiveness in strength. the more the boxes, or rather the higher the surface you place your hand on, the more the explosive strength one will need. Start with 10-20cm high before you progress to higher boxes.
16) Diamond Push-Ups
These push-ups are very similar but not the same as regular pushups. The difference lies in the positioning of the hands, with the hands in diamond pushups being placed close together. It is a much harder workout than the regular pushups and is great in targeting the biceps and the shoulder muscles. If you have enough endurance with the regular pushups and it has become as simple as ABC, you can try the diamond variant. The name diamond comes from the fact that the tips of the first fingers and those of the thumbs touch each other on the ground forming a diamond image.
17) One Arm Push-Up
This is just as simple as it is. doing pushups with one hand. Though simple to understand, it isn’t simple to do. For one to be able to do it, there are a number of things to put in mind.Firstly, you have to be stronger than your weight and secondly, let your legs be as far apart as possible to enhance stability. Let your shoulders be well warmed up before you can try the variant as it is known to put a lot of strain to the elbows and shoulders.
18) The Staggered Push-Ups
In this variant, one of the hands would be higher than the other, say six inches higher when you get to the lowest position. The lower hand is in return forced to do more work than the other hand thus leading to an imbalanced equation. With 50 pounds of push-ups, you will realize that this variant is one of the most challenging variant, helping you to fire up the shoulders and the chest even more.
19) Spiderman Push-Ups
This variant brings out the creepy crawly side of the exerciser. Let one of your knees be up by the side of your body, toward the elbows when you are doing the down portion of the workout. In return, the oblique are squeezed thereby improving your balance. For a few reps, you will keep your knees in this position before switching legs.
20) Regular Push-Ups
We are ending from where we ought to have began. The regular push up is also referred to as the standard push-up. This is a perfect workout for training the shoulders, arms, core and the chest muscles. It is because of its diversity of pros that it is incorporate in almost all the street workout plans. The push-up position is where your arms are perpendicular with your shoulders and your body being aligned from head to ankle. This is the best push-up workout for beginners who haven’t yet developed strength and endurance to give the other variants a try.
The pushup doubles up as one of the most basic as well as most effective form of upper body exercise one can do. However, being basic does not mean that people do it right. While it is quite easy to do, there are surprisingly numerous mistakes that people tend to do when attempting these push-ups. Below are some tips that will help any workout enthusiast to master the push-ups skill, and in doing so, transforming from concentrating the pushups from the triceps/shoulders/chest to the entire body. This will mean that there is increased strength and more core muscles with faster results. Read on…
1. Brace Your Core
Squeezing or rather bracing your core will reduce the risks of rounding your spine. The same way you would flex your stomach muscles to guard against a coming punch is the same way you should flex your core muscles when doing the pushups. In both cases, the risks of injury are reduced a great deal. Bracing enforces a natural spine while engaging your core thus making the workout a full body exercise rather than just a chest/shoulder/arm thing.
2. Squeezing Your Gluts
One of the biggest body muscle groups are the glutes. Unfortunately, often times the glutes are the most inactive. Squeezing them protects the lower back and improves posture while at the same time providing full body tension that helps in involving as many muscle groups as possible in the workout. It also helps in maintaining a neutral spine.
3. Packing Your Elbows
Flaring the elbows is one of the most common tendencies when doing pushups. This is a great mistake that can result in rotator cuff and shoulder issues. It is, therefore, recommended that you pack your elbows in, trying to have the least possible space in your armpits, between arms and body. Stacking the joints at the onset of each rep with the elbows under the shoulders and the hands under the elbows improves long-term health while recruiting the lats and the triceps more. Having the shoulders perpendicular with the arms also creates better motion range in the chest and shoulders.
4. Grip the Floor
Rather than the tendency of having the fingers that together point straight up, it will be great if you place your hand in a position such that the thumbs face each other. This is followed by opening the fingers in such a manner that you appear to be holding a grip on the floor. This will in return create a full body tension and tighten the triceps and lats thus helping in engaging the upper back muscles.
5. Push the Ground Against Your side
Rather than pushing yourself from the ground, imagine that you are pushing the ground away from you and the entire body will benefit. By pushing yourself off the ground, only the upper body benefits. This is risky in causing back pains. Upon pushing the ground await instead, more muscles are involved thus translating to a full body tension that braces the entire body. The result is a full body workout.
6. Practice Air Push-Ups
This is a brilliant idea that can help one to feel a proper push-up without having to do the actual pushups. On a straight standing position, have your arms extended in your front with the top of your palm being perpendicular with the shoulder. Pull the hands toward your chest and push it out forward. Repeat this couple of times. It will be noticeable that the elbows are staying closer to the exercisers side thus helping you to learn how to reduce the flaring out of elbows when doing the real push-ups.
- When lowering down, breathe in through the nose, and then forcefully breathe out via the mouth when coming up.
- Draw your ribcage down while squeezing your glutes as this helps in flattening of the lower back hence reduced excessive arch.
- Lowering should take about two seconds while going up should take about one. This is not a race. The longer you take for the sets, the stiffer and higher tension you will have as compared with the number of sets done.
With these tips, your pushups may just become the very best you have been hoping for.