I love pushups! Sorry, but I do! They are hands down one of the best upper body exercises that also challenges and sculpts your core. Actually, I need to be honest with you, the truth is…I used to hate pushups, but over time I’ve learned to love them for their amazing benefits. You might be thinking, “I do bench presses, that’s the same thing right!?” Unfortunately no…don’t convince yourself that some other exercise you’re doing is the same as doing a pushup, because it’s not. Just accept that fact that pushups have crazy good benefits and they need to be apart of your workout routine. Pushups work the whole body. From head to toe, your body kicks into overdrive to support itself and maintain a stiff straight posture – a task you don’t have to do lying on your back. So because of my love for pushups, I’m dedicating the next two Wednesday Workout posts to teaching you variations and proper form!
When performing a pushup, you not only work your arms, pecs, and shoulders, but you also work your core. Your core is critical to creating a well-balanced body and to gaining the strength you need to perform all exercises with great efficiency. Plus, when you have a strong core and defined upper body, you’ll stand taller, improve your posture, boost your energy, and generally look thinner than someone of the same weight with poor posture and a weak core. A strong core can banish back pain and make all your workouts safer and easier.
To get these benefits, you must maintain proper form: flat back, hands positioned under your shoulders. Different hand positions put different loads on your joints and muscles, but every one of us is put together a little differently. The way you need to place your hands to feel strongest might be slightly different than the way I need to keep my hands. So experiment with hand positions (as long as they are under your shoulders)
It’s vital to keep your back flat. I’m not gonna lie, it’s challenging to do this. It forces your abs to work their hardest. But making that effort will give you the greatest results.
Modified pushups, which you do on your knees, are virtually identical to normal pushups except that the muscles are worked at a lesser intensity or overload. It’s important to maintain proper form in the modified position as well. Rest your weight slightly above the knees, keep a flat back, and activate your abs.
If you’re new to exercising start with a modified pushup and limit your range of motion. In time you’ll be able to take your chest to the floor. Each time, push yourself to go a little lower through your range of motion. No matter how frustrating it is at first, stick with it; every rep is changing your body! Pushups are tough. They’re supposed to be. But you’re tougher!
Here is a step-by-step breakdown of how to perform a traditional pushup and modified pushup.
1. Lie face down on your mat with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and under your chest. Keep your fingers straight and your legs straight and slightly apart with your toes supporting your feet. Your weight should be on your hands.
2. Keep your body as straight as possible, with your eyes focused straight down and your neck in a neutral position. Try to keep bottom from sinking too low or piking up. A helpful hint is from the side, you should look like your standing.
3. Lower your chest toward the floor with your arms and elbows pointing away from your body. Push up so that your arms are straight but your elbows aren’t completely locked.
4. Squeeze your glutes and brace your abdominals throughout the pushup. Do not allow your lower back to sink or your hips to pike upward during the down phase.
1. Get on your hands and knees, with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and in line with your chest. Cross your feet at the ankles, creating a straight line from the top of your head to your knees.
2. Keep your body as straight as possible, with your eyes focused straight down and your neck in a neutral position.
3. Lower your chest toward the floor with your arms and elbows pointing away from your body.
4. Push up so that your arms are straight but your elbows aren’t completely locked.
5. Squeeze your glutes and brace your abdominals throughout the pushup. Do not allow your lower back to sink or your hips to pike upward during the down phase.
Now that you have a step-by-step breakdown on performing a traditional and modified pushup, get down on all fours and give me 20!