Push-Ups: An All-Encompassing Exercise

Posted on: January 12, 2015
Tags: Physical fitness,

Here is client, Missy Bernhardt, demonstrating the Front Clap Push-Up. She is looking good because she had great trainers!

Push-Ups: An All-Encompassing Exercise 

We all want to get the most out of our workout: burn the most calories, work the most muscles, and gain the biggest benefit. One exercise we do at Explosion does all this and more! 

Working over twelve different muscle groups from the shoulders all the way down to the toes, push-ups could be the best exercise out there. 

Our trainers are big on push-ups because of all the muscles that are incorporated in that one movement. The beauty of the push-up is that there are so many variations that you never get bored. And our trainers like to “switch it up,” as Trainer Morgan says. Here are some of our trainers’ favorite push-up variations along with why they like to include them in training sessions:

-       Front Clap Push-Ups are great for Matt Schaber. This variation is where you push yourself up with enough force to clap before going back into starting position. This type of push-up helps test overall strength and shows that you can translate your strength into explosive strength. 

-       The variation we call the Let Down is the best according to Joey Robertson. This is where you start in push-up position and very slowly lower yourself to the ground. You don’t push yourself back up, but just get up and start over again. This helps to gain strength and work on form. 

-       Emily Miller favors the Tempo Push-Up that is a 5 count down, 1 count up motion. You start in push-up position and lower yourself in 5 counts, then push up in 1 count. The reason she likes this type is that it works on form as well as both eccentric and concentric muscles. You can also do this exercise from a bar or the ground, so it is good for all levels of fitness.

(Concentric exercise is a contraction that shortens a muscle, while eccentric exercise is a contraction that lengthens the muscle; that sounds complicated, but push-ups actually work both types. Concentricis the lowering part of the push-up when the targeted muscle is working to perform the action. The eccentric portion is the return to the starting position).

-       Have you ever done push-ups using a box? Trainer Morgan likes to start with a push-up on the box, then put your left hand on the ground and do a push-up. Back on the box for another push-up and then put your right hand on the ground for the final push-up. That equals one rep. Yes, this is hard, but putting pressure on one arm at a time along with both arms really works a lot of muscles, including the oblique muscles. It also forces your body to work on stabilizing and balance. 

The Perfect Push-Up

To perform push-ups correctly, the back should be straight; not sagging or arching. Hands are placed below the shoulders and elbows are at a 45-degree angle to the body. Start in the up position and slowly lower yourself down. The perfect push-up is when you get down low enough that the sternum is on the ground. Just remember not to sacrifice form for your range of motion. 

If you can’t do a push-up with correct form on the floor, you can always begin on an incline. Start as low as you can while holding the correct form. Try for 5 push-ups on your first day and increase by one each day. When you are able to perform 25 push-ups using good form, try some of the variations.

Although push-ups are not hard to do, they are hard to perfect. We recommend that you learn to perform all exercises from a professional trainer. When you do exercises wrong, you might not notice, but your body does. It will compensate by using different muscles or using the right muscles the wrong way. This leads to doctors, physical therapy and stopping your exercise program because of pain. You can avoid all this with just a little help.