Want to get that physique toned up? Want more defined arms and a stronger, thinner core? Well the answer may be as easy as dropping down and pumping out some good old fashion pushups.
Pushups are one of the best all-around exercises. Pushups are predominately an upper body exercise; however they are also one of the best ways to build core strength. A proper standard push up is performed with your body in a straight line from your heels to the back of your head. This is a plank position. Planks are considered to be the gold standard core stabilization exercises. When I was in the military the instructors would set a broom stick on our back to make sure that your head, butt and heels were all touching the stick while doing your pushups. There is no cheating then!!
The military uses pushups more than any other exercise. This is due to the high value of a proper push up. When you are performing a push up you are stabilizing your hips, spine and ribcage while acceleration and decelerating your body weight with your arms. The stabilization aspect is what makes the push up a great exercise.
When beginning a push up routine start with easier moves and work your way up to harder exercises.
1. For shoulder rehabilitation start with wall pushups. Stand 2 to 2.5 feet away from the wall, place hands on the wall in a triangle position approximately 6 inches apart. From this position lower your forehead to the center of your hands. Keep your core muscles engaged and press back to the starting position.
2. From the wall push up, progress to pushups against a counter or table. When you lower yourself the edge of your push up surface should hit you mid chest.
3. The next step is pushups on the floor from your knees. Standard alignment is to have your hands positioned at shoulder height, just slightly wider than your shoulders. Try different hand widths to vary the effect on the muscles involved. Try to keep your feet relaxed on the floor to avoid engaging a lot of hip flexors in your push up.
4. If you have mastered those stages then you are ready for full body weight pushups. Remember your proper hand position and position your feet six inches apart. Lower your straight body slowly until your chest almost touches the ground. Then with highly engaged core muscles drive back to the up position. Perform as many as you can with good form.
5. When the standard push up is not stimulating enough try putting your feet on an elevated surface. This will put a higher percentage of your weight in your arms. It also changes the angle of your arms, which will stimulate the upper chest muscles more.
6. Another way to maximize your push up routine is to use medicine balls or a foam roller under your hands to create an unstable base. This will demand that you engage your core stabilizers and shoulder stabilizers to keep from falling off that unstable base. Be careful with using an unstable base, it could be dangerous if you are not ready for that intense of an exercise.
Pushups are very effective and can be a fun way to workout. Just always make sure to move slowly at first. Develop a good strength base before you get too crazy with the endless variety of pushups you can add to your program.
If you find this information helpful, please forward it to a family member or friend.
For questions and/or help with exercise suggestions and form please contact me at
La Jolla’s Finest Training
565 Pearl Street
La Jolla, CA 92037