The Humble Push Up
Love them or hate them: push-ups are an excellent, versatile exercise for building muscle mass and strength.
Push-ups, like squats and lunges, are known as compound body weight exercises because they use more than one joint at once – so they’re perfect if you’re short on time!
They also provide the foundation for many other exercises where your body weight goes through your hands and feet.
Where to start:
The best part about push-ups is that you can modify them to suit your strength level. To begin, find out which push-up style you can complete 3 x 10 repetitions of safely, whilst still working in your challenge zone (not too easy, not too hard). Add them to your program 3 days a week for 3 weeks, and then try going up a level!
1. Wall push-ups
A great place to begin. The a_space Body Pulls & Push-Ups Station is great for beginners to train the movement pattern and prepare the body for the next level.
2. Bench push-ups
3. Swiss ball push-ups – hands on ball
Adding an unstable surface fires up the nervous system and can mean more strength and muscle growth as a result.
4. Asymmetrical push-ups
A ball, or step under one hand will load the body in a different way. Make this dynamic by constantly changing the side of the raised surface.
5. Decline push-ups
6. Push-up claps
The ultimate upper body test – this exercise requires strength and power to push the ground away and get some airtime! It’s best to build up to this one.
How its done:
- A traditional push up is done on the toes, however to control the movement you can come down on your knees to decrease the force generated by the muscles. A mat can also be used for comfort.
- Place your hands slightly wider than your shoulders, but not in front of them.
- If your hands were on a clock face, rotate them so that your middle finger would point to 11 and 1 o’clock, left and right. Ensure that all 10 fingers touch the ground.
- Find a ‘neutral spine’ – your lower back shouldn’t have excessive curving or flattening. By drawing your navel up towards your spine, you can engage the core muscles to keep the lower back safe.
- Without moving your neck, looking just in front of the hands, lower your chest down by bending your elbows and letting the shoulders open outwards. This places the chest muscles under tension and builds their strength.
- To rise to the start position again, imagine that you’re pushing the floor away from you. This engages the right muscles around your shoulder blades and helps to prevent injury.
Like any exercise that develops strength, mobility is equally as important in preventing injury. To warm up the shoulders, the a_space Shoulder Mobility Wheel is great – otherwise do arm circles and dynamic movements. Finish off with some serious chest stretching, the Stretch Station will give you some tips on how to do this properly.
If you are new to exercise or have a medical condition, consult with your doctor before commencing.