Do you believe that pushups should only be made in those challenging bootcamps when a drill-sergeant coach barks at you as asks for 20? No sir, pushups are actually very good for your health, despite those harsh feelings they might evoke. So if you want to enjoy their full health benefits and learn how to do them correctly, this article can help you set your record straight on these underrated exercises.
Here are five reasons you should be adding pushups to your daily routine
- Upper-body strength
If you ever tried to do one, you definitely know that a pushup is challenging your upper half cause you’re basically using your hands to lift your entire body. Certified trainers confirm that pushups will help you work chest, shoulders, arms and upper back. When you build strength in these areas, your entire upper body-strength will improve helping you perform easier daily chores such as lifting a suitcase into an overhead space, carrying a heavy bag of groceries.
- Core strength and stability
If done correctly, pushups can also help you improve your muscle strength and your joint flexibility, stabilizing your entire core. This includes all of your muscles from your midsection, basically all your body parts that are not your legs, arms or head. More than this, a properly performed pushup can target the deep core muscles that support your spine – (transverse abdominis and multifidus) and of course your abs. When you target these muscles, you’re helping your entire body get more stable and stronger, making your gym activities easier but also your daily chores.
- Cardio challenge
If you do enough pushups you make your heart pump faster and decrease the risk of cardiovascular problems. It’s true that you might need to bust out at least a set of at least 40 pushups over 30 seconds to get to that point, but it will definitely worth it.
- Bone density
Pushups can do more than challenge your heart and muscles. They can also help you build strong bones, promoting a healthy musculoskeletal system and preventing you from developing osteoporosis, slow bone loss or other bones related diseases.
- Improved posture
In today’s digital world, when computer and smartphones are used for almost everything, we spend hours at the desk, with hunched shoulders and rounded spine, watching on our monitor or scrolling on our tablets. If done correctly, pushups can help you improve your posture by engaging the two muscles from your mid-back that are underworked. When you’re strengthening your rhomboids and scapula, you will change your spine alignment, gaining core strength and stability hence a beautiful posture.
How to do a proper pushup.
Get on all four members and make sure your shoulders are over your wrists. Keep your knees underneath your hips and open them as wide as your hips.
Walk your hands forward while shifting your body forward too so that your shoulders are again over your wrists. Your hips will be in front of your knees now. Extend your fingers as you press your weight through your palms. Pull in your bellybutton and tuck those toes under to be able to lift the knees from the ground and stay in a high plank position. If you move your heels together you might be able to engage your deep core better.
Make sure you’re well aligned with the heels directly over your toes and your wrists underneath your shoulders. Your neck and your spine need to be aligned as well. Also your glutted and upper back.
Now you’re in the start position. Lower yourself down as you bend your elbows at a 45 degrees angle and squeeze your shoulders while keeping your quads and core braced.
Try to lower yourself as much as you can without letting your posterior hike up and your hips sag. Make sure your body is in straight light from head to heels. When you reach at the bottom of this movement, push yourself back up in the starting position. Don’t forget to breathe ?. This was your first rep.
Tip: if you’re new to pushups, a mirror can help you achieve a good posture/assure you’re properly aligned and perform the exercise better.
Don’t get scared if you can’t perform them as we described them from the beginning. They are quite challenging reason why there are easier alternatives for those who have joint issues, limited mobility or can’t stay in a high plank position. A popular variation from the common pushup is when you simply drop to your knees and perform it from there, reducing this way the strength demand on your body but engaging the same muscles. However, this alternative can stress your lower back and increase your risk of round spine. Another alternative would be to perform standing pushups against a wall.
Health risks of pushups.
If you’re just recovering from an injury, or if you have problems with your wrists, joints, elbows and shoulders talk to a physical therapist before attempting pushups. If you experience sharp pain during your training, stop immediately.
How many pushups does it take?
The most important thing is to try challenging yourself on a daily basis and to do enough reps to feel the exercise is challenging but you’re still able to perform. Trainers recommend doing pushups 1-3 times a week to let your body rest and recover as well.
How to avoid plateauing.
If you reach plateau at some point, remember that this is part of the journey and you will overcome it. For example, if you already practice 30 consecutive pushups a day and you can’t go to 31, lower yourself and hold that position as much as you can without considering that you need to push yourself back up. In time, your body will be able to go to the next level.
In conclusion, if done properly, pushups can help you improve your posture, maintain bone density, while providing a solid cardio challenge and strengthening your upper body.