Here is number four in our series on exercise ingredients you can pull together to make your own personal workout. Here we look at the classic push-up (or make that a press-up if you are British).
Ingredient No 4: THE PUSH-UP:
What is it?
The push-up requires very little explanation. The basic move is to raise your body from a prone position using your arms. It has a strong association with the military particularly in context of a punishment - an unfortunate perspective given its brilliance as a highly positive strength training tool.
Why is it good for you?
On a primary level, the push-up works your chest, arms and shoulders, but it’s actually an exercise that engages multiple muscle groups so you are actually giving your whole body a great workout in this one move. During a push-up, your abs are forced to contract to hold your body off the floor and to keep your legs and trunk in alignment. It really is a great all-rounder.
Additional benefits you might not be aware of:
Due to the way your muscles have to work to perform a push-up, they are actually stretching in ways that bring a myriad of extra benefits. Whilst on the surface, a push-up can appear to be all about strength, this stretching can improve your flexibility which in turn can prevent injury, improve posture and work towards a generally better all over aesthetic. You’ve got to love the push-up.
How to do a basic push up:
- Get down on your hands and knees and place your hands wider than shoulder length. Engage your core and push yourself up into a plank position, so your knees are off the floor.
- Keep your gaze slightly forward so that you make a straight line from your head to your heels. This is the beginning and end position of a single push-up.
- Lower your torso to the ground until your elbows form a 90 degree angle. Keep your body aligned by contracting your abs. How low you go depends on your strength - you want to aim for a fist’s height from the floor.
- Raise yourself by pushing the ground away from you. Focus on using your chest and arm muscles to get you back to the starting position.
How to work it into daily life:
As well as part of a full workout, the push-up is another one of those exercises that, if you only have 5 minutes, you can do for great benefit. You require only yourself, the floor and possibly a lack of spectators (unless you happen to be really good of course). Whilst it’s hopefully clear that you are by no means punishing yourself by performing this move, you can always use it as a family forfeit. Making it competitive can only help matters – and remember there really is no reason why men should be better at push-ups than women. If you do get competitive however, keep in mind that the world record for consecutive push-ups is over 10,000 (you can always start with 10).
The push-up is one of the most well-known exercise moves there is. It is timeless because it is effective. There is no end to the ways the push-up can be developed and evolved as your strength and endurance grow, from increasing reps to adding difficulty via the many variations that exist to push even the fittest of athletes. Remember, that 10,000 is a record waiting to be broken.
And so, if you are ever asked to drop and give someone 20, then do it with a smug pride in the knowledge that it’s doing you nothing but good. YES SIR!