Push ups tend to be a cornerstone exercise for many workout programs, with good reason. A push up works a plethora of muscles. Chest, shoulders, and triceps are always the first that come to mind. When you look at what a push up really is, you realize there is much more worked.
A push up is basically a plank in motion. This means that your abs, lower back, glutes, hamstrings, and quadriceps are all worked. Showing that the push up is one of the best upper body strengthening exercises we can do.
Like any other exercise doing a push up correctly is very beneficial.
What a proper push up should look like:
Start in a high plank position
Feet on your tiptoes
Arms extended, hands on the ground straight down from your shoulders with your elbow pits forward
Abs and glutes tights
Eyes 6 inches in front of your hands
Start the movement by bending at the elbows
Keeping your elbows close to your body (avoid flaring your elbows out)
Lower your body to the ground until the back of your arms (triceps) are parallel with the ground
Press the ground away from you and extend your arms till you are back to the starting position
This is not an easy movement to do and to do correctly. Like pull ups, many people struggle to do even one push up.
Here are some movements that will help you improve your push up game.
Kneeling push up
This movement is a push up except your knees are on the ground rather than your toes. This is usually the first place people will start when learning how to do push ups. This is a good place to start for your first push up. There is a movement that is better than this as a starting point.
Hands elevated push up
The hand elevated push up is a push up where your hands are elevated on a box, chair, something that has your hands off the ground. This is a superior movement to the kneeling push up because it more closely resembles a regular push up. Meaning you will be working your abs, glutes, and legs more with this movement.
Negative push ups
With these push ups you will start at a high plank, you then slowly lower yourself till you are fully laying on the ground. You will press the ground away in a kneeling push up, when your arms are fully extended you will go back to a high plank. Like our negative pull ups in my last article, if you have not read it follow this link Getting That First Pull Up, We will be using the strongest part of the exercises to improve strength.
Hand release push ups
These are just like negative push ups except you lay on the ground, lift your hands, and stay on your toes when you come up. These give you a little bit more range of motion in the movement.
Suspension trainer chest press
This exercise is similar to the hand elevated push up only you will be using a suspension trainer. The biggest difference is you will be less stable forcing you to work your muscles harder. This movement can be harder than a regular push up depending on how close to the anchor point you are.
Accessory movements are the exercises that we can use to strengthen the smaller muscles to get better at a bigger movement. These exercises are, plank and any variation, tricep extension or tricep pulldowns, rows, pull ups, chest/bench press, chest fly, shoulder press, lateral and front raise.
These movements will not only help you get to doing push ups. They will also help with improving your push up game. Push ups can be hard to master. It is a very rewarding exercise to learn how to do. When you do master push ups, you will be able to perform one of the most important movements that we can perform.