Thursday, June 16, 2011

Proper Push ups

The Proper Push Up:

The push-up, or press up if you are in England, is one of the most basic forms of exercise. It works the pectorals, triceps. It also has benifits to your core and deltoids. It is common to sports and the military for fitness and for punishment.

We all know what they are and we have all done them in one form or the other. This simple exercise is one of the best ways to develop upper body strength. It works out all the muscles in the upper body and build optimal strength in the forearms, wrists, upper arms, shoulders and chest. 

To get the most benefit from the push up, you must do them properly.

How To Do the Basic Push Up:

  1. Get on the floor, position your hands slightly wider than shoulders. Rise up on your toes, keeping your body straight.
  2. Lower yourself to the ground, making sure your body remains in a straight line
  3. Push yourself back up until you lock your elbows
  4. Repeat.
But I can't even do one push up, or I can only do one or two before exhastion? Help!

All Important Core: The more important part of the exercise is contracting your core. Think about lifting dead weight. I can carry my 12 year old around if he holds on, but try to lift him or even move him if he just goes limp. One thing I notice in the dojo, men and women alike who have a hard time doing push ups, is that their core isn't tight. The back is always curved and the belly always hits the floor. It doesn't matter what type of push up modification you use, if your core isn't tight, you aren't doing it right. Things you can do to help your core, try planks on your elbows and supermans.

Modifications: There are many types of modiafications that you may do, but think of them as a progression. When you can do 30 push ups, move on to the next level and work your way up to 30 again.

  • Wall push ups: facing a wall place hands a little lower than shoulder height and just a little wider than your shoulders. Place your feet away from the wall and slowly let your body go towards the wall. Push your self away. Place a piece of tape on the floor where your toes are so you can remember how far away you were. Every time you do your push ups, try to do at least one more than you have done before. To progress, move your feet further away from the wall. Place a new piece of tape for your new foot position, leaving the old piece on the floor so you can remember where you have been.
  • Chair Push Ups: When your wall push ups start to get low enough, it is time to move your hands to a seat of a sturdy chair. and do the same thing.
  • Knee Push Ups: You now assume the correct start position for a push-up and then lower your knees. Placing a folded towel under your knees will make this exercise more enjoyable. Make sure you are keeping your core tight and body straight. Knee push ups are half as hard as a real push up, so when you get to 30 knee push ups, it is time to go to the real thing. 
  • Real Push Ups: Now that you can do 30 knee push ups, expect to be able to do at least 12 but more like 15 real push ups. Knee push ups are 50% weight of full push ups, so you should be able to do half as many push ups. Really push your self to achieve this. Every three times you work your push ups, increase by 1 or 2 and then make that your new goal.

Pssh! Push Ups are easy!

There are countless ways to make a push up harder. 

  • Elevated Push Ups: Instead of the floor elevate your feet on a bench or chair. To really work your core, place your feet on a swiss ball!
  • Diamond Push Ups: Instead of placing your hands shoulder width apart, try placing your hands so your thumbs and index fingers are touching each other, creating a diamond shape with your hands directly under your breast bone
  • Weighted Push Ups: Try wearing a weight vest when doing your push ups
  • Wide Push Up: A wide push up will work your pecs and your biceps more than a standard push up.
  • Spiderman Push Ups: Start in the standard push up position, with your hands under your shoulders and your body in a straight line. As you lower your torso towards the floor, bend your elbows out to the side. At the same time, lift one foot off the floor, bend the knee to the side up to hip level. As you bend your elbows out to the side and lower your torso toward the floor. Repeat, alternating sides.