Bring the push-up with you
By Brett Beil, CSCS
The warmer seasonal weather typically brings a lot of people outside and away from their local gym. My hopes are that they will still choose a handful of strength exercises to complement their various forms of outdoor cardiovascular activities.
The push-up, one of my favorite exercises, should be one of these movements. I imagine when a lot of people think of the push-up, the first thought they have is “I never could,” or “Not that same old exercise.”
If you do push-ups correctly, you will reap some serious benefits. Benefits include the activation of many major muscle groups, improved flexibility, and improved cardiovascular health. Plus, they can prevent injuries in your lower back, stabilize muscles in your shoulders, and improve your overall posture.
Preparing for Push-Ups
When you are preparing to do a push-up, make sure that your hands are slightly wider than shoulder width apart and the spacing between your feet feels good for you. Brace/engage your abdominals and imagine your body is a straight line — from your head through your shoulder blades, through your lower back, through your knees and out your heels. Lower your arms down to a 90 degree bend (or deeper) at your elbow and return all the way back to full extension.
Start Where You’re Comfortable
If push-ups are challenging for you, be on the lookout for an elevated surface to perform them on such as a bench or a step at the local playground, or even a countertop in your own home. You can progress from an elevated surface toward the floor, as you get stronger. For example, if you can comfortably do three sets of 10 push-ups on the fourth stair of your home, move one step lower to make the exercise more challenging.
If you are looking for some guidance, I suggest 3 sets of however many reps are comfortably challenging for you 3x a week. If you have been practicing push-ups regularly, one of your weekly workouts might include just one set to failure or even a 2-minute test in which your goal is to complete as many push-ups as you can in the given time.
Remember, we are a civilization of convenience, and the push-up can follow you anywhere.