Push ups are the classic upper body exercise done by trainers at all levels of fitness.
They work all of the upper body including the chest, triceps, deltoids, arm's and core. The intensity of the exercise can be altered greatly through the many variations and progressions. The major benefit is the fact that push-ups require no equipment and can be done anytime or anyplace.
However, it is vital to have correct form when doing press-ups. This something a lot of people struggle with, particularly beginners.
Correct form for a full press-up includes:
– Head and neck being in line with the spine
– Full body in a straight line, making sure hips are not up in the air or dropping towards the ground.
– Maintain this straight body position while lowering the body and pushing up
– Abdominals are tight to help prevent the low back dropping
– Hands around shoulder width or slightly wider
– Inhale as going down, exhale coming up
It is well known that there are many variations of push-ups but here I will just go through some of the beginner progressions. Anyone going to Bootcamp classes or even to the gym, should be able to go through these progressions. Always be sure to start with the easiest progress and when you have mastered this you can move on to other variations.
+ Knee Push-ups
On hands and knees on the ground. Have knee hip width apart and hands shoulder width apart. Make sure hips are forward so to put pressure on the shoulders. A common mistake is to have the hips back, closer to the feet than to the hands. This is OK for beginners who are really struggling but try to bring the hips forward as best you can.
+ Full push-ups
This just involves coming up onto the feet with knees off the ground. You are in a straight horizontal position with hands shoulder width apart. Want to keep all the body straight as you bring the chest to the floor then push against it as your coming back up again. This is the most common seen variation of the push-up.
+ Decline Push-ups
When you can complete 15- 20 full press-ups with correct form then you can progress to decline press-ups. This means having your feet raised by putting them on a chair or bench. This will put further pressure on the shoulders and chest while also having your core working harder to maintain this stress. However, it is very important to make sure your hips are in line here, as having the hips hanging down towards the ground will put pressure on the low back.
These are just simple ideas to start off with press-ups and as you build your fitness and confidence you should ever get through all progressions.