If you aren't doing pushups as part of your exercise program, you are missing out on one of the best exercises for your body. Aside from being considered a true test of physical strength, pushups are also a cardiovascular exercise, a core strengthening exercise and a total upper body exercise. You get a whole lot in one single move.
Why do pushups? Simply put, there is not one muscle in your upper body that doesn't benefit from doing pushups. Your chest, shoulders, triceps and back are all working in unison to complete just one rep. And the lower your pushups are, the harder those muscles will work. Aside from your upper body, your core is working equally as hard. Just maintaining the pushup position requires your core stabilizers to keep your body in line throughout your reps and sets.
Another positive thing about pushups is that they require nothing more than your body and the floor; it doesn't get more minimalist than that. Pushups can be done anywhere, at any time and for as many as you can pump out with perfect form. They are a nice way to end your regular chest routine or they can be used as part of a warmup to get the blood flowing before you begin to exercise.
How do you do a pushup? Performing a pushup correctly tends to be tricky for some people, but the setup and execution is pretty simple. Place your hands directly underneath your shoulders. Your body should be in a straight line from head to toe which means your booty is not sticking up and your hips are not sagging. Once you are set up in the high pushup position, bend your elbows and slowly bring your chest to the floor going as low as you possibly can, pause for a second and then push yourself back up to your starting position. The key is to do pushups with control so you don't sacrifice your form.
>> Want to perfect your pushup? Watch the video below from our Pushup Challenge to learn how!
Are there any modifications if doing a pushup is too difficult? There are ways to modify pushups if they're too challenging. By dropping your knees and toes to the floor, you can still feel the effects of a pushup. However, you never want to be directly on your kneecaps, but rather just above them while still keeping all the tension in your upper body. Again, slowly lower down and push back up to start. If doing them this way is too easy, but doing them the regular way is too difficult, the other modification is to put only one knee down rather than both. Now you will be on one knee, but also on your toes on one foot. This is a great way to transition from modified pushups to regular ones.
What other types of pushups are there? Pushups have come a long way and there are several variations that target specific muscle groups. For example, a tricep pushup is similar to a regular one, but you bring your hands closer together with your arms right at your sides. When you lower down, your elbows point directly up to the ceiling! Click here to learn more details about the tricep pushup.
If you are looking to target your shoulders a bit more, you can do a pushup in downward dog position. With your hips pressed upward and your head positioned between your arms, lower your head to the floor and then push back up. This move, once mastered, will help you if you are trying to do full handstand pushups. Learn more about the downward dog pushup here!
If you're feeling powerful, you can also try the one arm pushup. Keep your legs wide for balance and put one hand behind your back. Lower yourself to the ground and then back up, keeping your core engaged for support. Do a set with one arm and then switch to the other. Master your form for the one arm pushup by clicking here!
For more variations, read 7 Moves to Get More Out of Your Pushup!
Do not neglect this highly effective exercise! Even if you find pushups difficult, the modifications are a great place to start and you'll get stronger every time you do them. So the next time you're looking for a surefire way to pump up that upper body, drop and give yourself twenty!