Push It, Push It Good - Muscle & Performance

Push It, Push It Good

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Contrary to De Beer’s propaganda, push-ups, not diamonds, are a girl’s best friend. They’re literally the Wonderbra of workout moves, strengthening the muscles and ligaments of your chest to hold your girls firmly in place while also improving shoulder and triceps strength and bettering your posture.

But did you know that push-ups are also good for the gut and the butt? The mechanics of holding your body steady and straight as you execute a push-up forces your core to cinch like a corset and your glutes to tighten to stabilize your hips. This muscular multitasker gives you more bang for your workout buck while increasing your calorie burn and overall endurance.

Moreover, push-ups are pretty darn cost-effective: All you need to do them is a body (you’ve got that), gravity (a physics given) and some gumption. Likely it’s your gumption that will need some work, for even though you inherently know that push-ups are awesome, you’ll probably still avoid them like the plague. Why? Because they’re hard! But with practice, you can become a push-up princess and could double or even triple your reps in as few as four weeks.

Body Mechanics

The key to becoming super-proficient at push-ups is correct form. Check out these tips for perfect push-ups.

At the top:

  • Place your hands just outside your shoulders with your fingers spread for stability.
  • Extend your legs behind you and balance between your hands and your toes.
  • Imagine a straight line going through your head, hips and heels. Adjust your body accordingly until it falls into this line.
  • Keep your head neutral to protect your spine; don’t tuck your chin or hyperextend your neck.
  • Tighten your abs and glutes to stabilize your hips and lower back.

Lowered:

  • Maintain a tight, straight body as you bend your elbows and lower your chest toward the floor.
  • Lower your chest until it’s about two to three inches from the floor. Not sure you’re low enough? Place a rolled-up hand towel underneath you; when your chest touches this towel, press back to the start position.
  • Maintain a neutral spine throughout.
  • Don’t let your back sway or your hips lift.

Push It Like a Dude

Doing push-ups on your knees is great for the upper body, but you’ll completely miss the core and glute workout. Not sure you can do a “boy” push-up? Give them a try anyhow. See how many reps you can do before your form begins to flag, then drop to your knees and rep it out to failure. Next training session, shoot for one to five more full push-ups before dropping to your knees. After about a month of training like this, we bet you’ll have doubled your reps.

Chest Challenge

Already a push-up princess? Try these variations to strengthen your muscles, joints and ligaments in different planes of motion:

Incline: Place your hands on a step, stair or flat bench and perform push-ups on an incline to hit more lower chest.
Decline: Place your toes on a surface higher than your head and hands, like a step, stair or platform, and perform push-ups at a declined angle to hit more upper chest.
Diamond: Place your hands on the floor underneath your chest with your thumbs and index fingers touching, making a diamond shape on the floor to emphasize the triceps.
Wide: Position your hands outside your shoulders on the floor to target the pecs and de-emphasize the triceps and shoulders.
Yoga Style: Position your hands directly underneath your shoulders to hit more triceps and front delts.
Stacked Feet: Place the toes of one foot on the heel of the other foot to challenge your balance and further engage the core.