Why pushups are your new favourite exercise
With fitness’s constant hunt for the next big wonder move, it can be easy to forget that the simplest exercises are often the best. Like the pushup.
One of the oldest moves in our workout arsenal, pushups are a great exercise that you can bust out anywhere and anytime.
Stuck in a hotel room on a business trip and need to get the blood pumping? No worries! Drop and give me 20.
The other great thing about pushups is that they combine your core with strengthening (and even cardio if you do it right) all in the one simple move making them one of the best all-round exercises you can do.
According to Sydney-based personal trainer and fitness model Andreas Lundin, pushups are a compound exercise that activates multiple muscle groups.
“Pushups utilise two three main parts of the body,” Lundin tells The Juice Daily.
“The first are what I call the prime movers and these are the pecs or chest, the assisting front shoulder and the triceps. Then there are the stabilizers – the rotator cuff in the shoulder adn the trunk which offers core stability.”
Also activating the back and legs, pushups offer a full body workout in one simple move.
Add to that the cardiovascular benefit of using large muscle groups and there’s really no reason to hold off doing them any more.
The pushup low-down
But all these benefits aside, what goes into performing the perfect pushup?
Here’s a simple step by step:
- Start in a plank position with your hands placed outside your body just below your shoulder level
- Push yourself up, remembering to keep your back straight and engage all your core muscles by pulling your belly button in against your spine
- Lower yourself down until your parallel to the ground (remember, keep that back straight)
- Repeat for ten. Or until you hit failure.
According to fitness expert Simon Newton, it’s imperative to keep your posture in mind the entire time.
“The key points regarding good form for a “regular” push up is keep a neutral spine, draw in your belly button to keep core tight and look directly between your hands,” says Newton.
“Make sure you are keeping your shoulders away from your ears and avoid shrugging your shoulders upwards (as often happens when you approach failure). Another issue is “worming” when clients curve their spine by lifting their chests faster than they drive up their hips. This can put unwanted pressure on the lower back and push the spine out of alignment. But overall, push ups are generally a fairly simple and safe exercise.”
If you’re a beginner or building up strength from an injury, the pushup can be tweaked to accommodate every fitness level.
“Pushups can be regressed by executing from your knees or on an upwards incline with your hands above your feet,” suggests Newton.
“To make the exercise more advanced, try clapping pushups, decline pushups where the feet are elevated, weighted push ups or even one arm push ups. This is just a few variations – the options are almost endless.”
They can also be tweaked to target specific muscle groups.
For a more pec-focused exercise, moving your hands a little wider will help target more of the chest area. For triceps, bring them closer to the body.
Pushups are also particularly good for women, where upper body strength can sometimes be overlooked in favour for cardio.
“Pushups can really help ladies build upper body strength, something that they can sometimes struggle with,” explains Bronwyn Campbell, head trainer at F45 Pyrmont.
“Women tend to be much stronger in their lower body and struggle to tone their chest, shoulders and triceps due to holding onto stress in this area —particularly in the triceps. Pushups can help prevent a sagging chest by keeping this entire area toned.”
If all that strengthening and multiple-muscle working weren’t encouraging enough, the humble pushup can also help undo a lot of the damage done by being hunched over a desk.
“Given they work the core, they can contribute to strengthening good posture, in conjunction with other mobility and core strengthening exercises,” says Newton.
“However, given push ups are primarily a “pushing” exercises, they should be complimented with “pulling” exercises to ensure muscular balance (think bodyweight rows, pull ups and chin ups).”
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