I was writing an article about Jack LaLane recently and it talked about the importance of push-ups. Did you know that a push-up done correctly can add a lot to your overall fitness workout and, depending on how many you are able to do at one time, push-ups say a lot about how you are aging. They even have a little calculator there that will tell you how you compare to others in your age level. Of course I did it. You should try it too. I’ll tell you mine if you tell me yours.
When I think of doing push-ups, well, actually I try not to think of doing push-ups, but when I do think of them I have visions of a boot camp with a drill sergeant screaming at some poor soldier and telling him to get down and give him 20. Sometimes it’s raining and the soldier is still out there doing push-ups in the rain at night. So you can understand why I don’t like to think about doing push-ups. However, if Jack LaLane says they are good for you, well I just had to check it out.
Here’s what I found out. They’re good! I mean, really really good. Push-ups work all kinds of muscles in your body. Over all push-ups are the most efficient exercise you can do for total body fitness, and once you get the hang of it, they aren’t hard to do. I don’t seem to have the hang of it yet but once I do, these babies are going to do my body a heck of a lot of good.
What kind of good you ask? Okay, just getting into the correct push-up position flexes and stretches your abdominals your lower back, your biceps, legs, core muscles and chest, and that’s not even doing any reps. Why? because just getting in a stabilized push-up position requires all those muscles to do some work.
When you get around to actually doing the reps you are doing one of the best exercises you can do for the chest, deltoid muscles (that’s the shoulder) training the back, abs, biceps and lower back and quadriceps, not to mention the cardiovascular benefits. So the ole push-up is the way to go if you want to do one thing that works the whole body.
Another benefit of the push-up is you don’t need a gym. You can do them at home, during TV commercials or while waiting for dinner to cook; you can do them at the beach or on the lawn; it’s hard to do them in the car but if you are stuck in traffic and you have a big front seat, then why not! Just kidding. Push-ups do not require a gym membership or any equipment. All you need is you and a flat piece of ground.
To get the most out of it you have to have good technique. But what is good technique? Here goes. Lie chest-down with your hands at shoulder level, palms flat on the floor and slightly more than shoulder-width apart, your feet together and parallel to each other. Your wrists should be stable and just slightly wider than your shoulders. Keep your legs straight with toes meeting the floor, straight back. Look out for the butt it should be down in alignment with your back. (Women can do a push-up from their knees if the toes stance is too hard) Slowly lower your chest to the floor, your elbows should be at a 90 degree angle, don’t worry about touching the floor with your chest.
Straighten your arms as you push your body up off the floor. Keep your palms fixed at the same position and keep your body straight. Try not to bend or arch your upper or lower back as you push up. Exhale as you come up and straighten your arms. Don’t lock your elbows as you straighten them.
Pause and do another. Lower your body slowly towards the floor. Bend your arms and keep your palms in fixed position. Keep body straight and feet together. Don’t try to do the push-ups too fast, the benefits come with the control and the tight core muscles. You’ll find that the more control you have the easier the push-up.
Lower body again. Try not to bend your back. Keep your knees off the floor, and inhale as you bend your arms.
Pause for a moment. Begin straightening your arms for a second push-up. Exhale as you raise your body.
Don’t try to do too many at first. If your wrists start to hurt stop and re-assess your form. You might be trying to do too many to start with, or your technique might be a bit off. Remember the idea is to be stronger and healthier not whipped to death.
And if you are still not sure how to do them here is a video on the proper way to do a push-up.
I've tried the little bars and my gym guy says they help with form and protect the wrists. I read that Jack LaLane does his push-ups on 3 chairs, one for each hand and one for his feet. He likes to do really deep push-ups...He's 93! Yikes.
That's why it's so much fun to work out where you like when you like. I've added a category on my website...Work outs without the Gym, so folks can have some suggestions for variety to add to thier routines.
When you are first working out remember not to over do anything. If it's comfortable, try a few the first day and then see how you feel the second day and go from there. The key is build up slowly or you can start with knee - push-ups. I lost 54 pounds myself and I found that the key was start with things you can do successfully, and add as you go. Easy does it.