Push Ups: What Good Are They Anyway?

They be good. They be oh so good. Granted, not while you’re performing them, but at some point thereafter you’re glad you did them. Let me tell you why this somewhat medieval form of torture does a body good: you know those sleeveless dresses, those cutesy tank tops, the spaghetti straps and summer dresses? That exercise makes those items look good on you. Enough said?

I’ve trained enough women to know that there are two areas that need the most help: belly and arms. (Am I right? Are you nodding your head yes? I thought so ;)) And I try my best to get my clients to do the things that they hate, and one very big “I hate this exercise” exercise is push ups! (I don’t think to this day I have been able to mention the word “push up” without it being followed by a massive groan!) You all hate them, and I get it, they’re no fun to do (zero fun) and they’re hard. Real hard. But, like I said earlier, they are oh so good for you!

Let me break down the push up for you and hopefully once you have a better understanding of what it works and the benefits you may reap, maybe you’ll be a little less inclined to sign heavily when you have to do them (maybe you’ll even be excited?) They work the pectoral muscles, (would you like perkier boobs? I thought so), triceps (bye-bye swaying, jiggly arm fat), and anterior deltoids (that’s the front of your shoulder.) It also benefits the rest of your deltoids (posterior and medial—that’s the top and back of your shoulders, so it’s all around shoulder goodness), the serratus anterior and your whole body basically, even the core (aka, belly!).

Now I understand that right about here you’re thinking, “Yes, that’s super great and those are all the things I want to work on. However, and this is a big one, I can’t perform even 5 decent reps and, oh by the way, I hate push ups so can’t we figure out another exercise for me to perform that will get me the same benefits?”

No.

Ok then. So there are many, many variations to the push up so if you’re reps are on the low side, there are ways you can start easy and work your way up to the more advanced push up. First, and most easiest is the Wall Push Up. Basically you stand in front of a wall, place your palms on the wall and lean froward and then push yourself back to standing. Easy enough? Once you get that down, try stepping a little farther away and you’ll see it gets a bit more difficult.

Once you’ve mastered that, you can move on to the Elevated Push Up. Here you can use a bench, a step or an elevated surface as long as it’s structurally sound and won’t tip over when you’re using it. Go to your staircase and use the bottom step for example. Place both hands on the step and you can either be on your knees, or your toes so that your body is fully extended, making sure you’re in a straight line from your shoulders, hips, knees and toes (knees and toes) (heh, it’s like the song…). Anyway, this elevated position helps to lighten your load when pushing up, thus making it easier than the full on version. Once you can perform that comfortably from your toes, feel free to move onward and upward!

Next, we have the Modified or Knees Push Up. Here you place your hands directly on the floor, palms directly under the shoulders, arms fully extended with your knees on the ground. Your body from shoulders to knees are in a straight line. From there you lower down as close to the ground as you can, and then push up. Perform a comfy 20 to 25 of those and I’d say you’re ready to move on.

Next comes the Big Boy Push Up where your hands are on the floor, arms fully extended, knees are off the ground, toes are tucked under and your body is totally aligned. You lower as close to the ground and while keeping your body rigid and straight, you then push up. Work your way up from 5 to 100 if you want, you’re unstoppable from this point on! And don’t think this is the end of the line. From here you can do incline push ups, diamond push ups, tricep push ups, the sky is the limit!

(By the way, I am compassionate when it comes to wrist tenderness and weakness so if you can’t perform regular push ups because the pressure on your wrists is unbearable, you can try making a fist with your hands and placing them over a towel or soft pillow and then perform your push ups. This way your wrists stay straight and aren’t strained as much.)

Since push ups can be performed literally anywhere, it should be no problem for you to be able to perform at least 10, perfect form, push ups a day. Perfect practice is the only thing that is going to make you better at them and believe me that the benefits are quickly visible. I’m working on 20 a day, slowing getting it up to 25 and from there I’ll be unstoppable! Don’t hate if my arms are awesome by June 😉

Summer is almost here ladies, let’s get serious about our arms!

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