Featured Exercise #8: Push-ups
Primary Muscle Groups: Pectorals (Chest), Deltoids (Shoulders), Triceps (Arms)
Secondary Muscle Groups: Transverse Abdominis (Deep Abdominals)
Sometimes you can’t keep a good exercise down. Though it has been around forever, the push-up is still one of the most popular exercises, and for good reason. It is great for functional upper body strength, with many applications to activities of daily life. The myriad variations make it virtually immune to full adaptation by the body, meaning that you can keep it as a staple of your program almost indefinitely. The necessity of abdominal engagement while performing the exercise turns what is commonly thought of as a “dude” exercise to an “everybody” exercise, suitable for all ages including children. Here’s how it goes:
For the standard push-up, start face down on your hands and feet, in a straight-back position with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and up on your toes. From there, bend your elbows and come down towards the floor until you reach a 90-degree bend in the elbows. Make sure to keep the back neutral and your abdominal muscles engaged. Inhale as you come down. Exhale as you press yourself back up, using the chest, shoulders, and arms. There shouldn’t be any sharp pains in your shoulders during the movement. If so, decrease the distance you come down or do the modification below.
Modification: Knees Bent
This modification is for those who find the standard push-up a little too challenging, painful in the shoulders or back, or for children learning proper form for the exercise. Start in the same position as the regular push-up, then drop straight down to the knees. This will put you in the proper spinal alignment. From there, perform the movement the same as the regular push-up.