You not only are working your chest, shoulders, triceps and back but also your core. Because of all of the muscle recruitment needed to perform push ups you use a lot of energy and build a lot of muscle doing them.
Unfortunately most people do them wrong. I often cringe when I see improper form because doing them wrong gives very little benefit and can cause injury. The bad form is true for “modified” push-ups as well as regular push-ups.
You have to push up your entire body weight from the ground which for most of us is more weight than when we were in High School and you have to use your core as well as your chest and arm muscles to do it.
Always keep your head in line with your spine! Reaching your chin toward the ground doesn’t do anything but put stress on your neck. Tighten your abs and use them to help push yourself up while keeping you body in a plank position. This means don’t stick your bum in the air or arch your back! OUCH!!!
Your fingers should be spread wide apart and facing the same direction as your the top of your head. Place your hands wider than your shoulders at chest level. You need to lower yourself to within a fist distance from the ground. If you can’t get that low you should be doing modified push-ups.
If you are a beginner or struggling with them, do a couple, rest a minute or a minute and thirty seconds and then do a couple more. Also try doing them at the beginning of your workout not the end. To increase the number of push-ups you do you need to do them more often. PRACTICE!!!
This article authored by Rory Sparrow. Rory is a certified personal trainer here at the Norwell Athletic Club and is frequent contributor and writer about all things exercise and nutrition. Rory has 20 years of weight training experience and fitness instruction including personal training, marathon training, and athletic coaching. She is an adjunct Professor at Curry College in Milton, a PICP Level 2 Coach, NASM certified Personal Trainer, NASM Certified Corrective Exercise Specialist, Certified TRX Instructor, and a Spinning Instructor. Rory can be reached at the Norwell Athletic Club at 781-659-6565.