The Push-up: Not just for Marines or Gym Rats

If you are a person who automatically thinks “UGH” at the thought of doing push-ups, please lend me your ear.

First and foremost, there are plenty of ways to do push-ups that don’t require you to be able to do a full push-up.

There are many benefits from doing this exercise, not the least of which is hitting several key areas all at once. For those of us who are into saving time and being efficient, this is a big win. In fact, some experts think that this is the one exercise for the rest of your life.

Specifically, adding this into your routine can help you to

  • move your shoulders better
  • improve your posture
  • add stability to your back muscles
  • increase your ability to do other movements with greater range and efficiency, and
  • not incidentally, make your arm, shoulder, and chest muscles stronger.

There are some things to learn about and watch out for as you get more involved with push-ups. But, again, the payoff for getting this exercise right is huge.

Push-Up progressions.
Let’s say you are giving this a try and it’s just not happening. Or you know you have weak shoulders and arms and don’t even want to start. You can do a push-up against a wall, standing a few feet from it. Or, you can do push-ups using the edge of a kitchen counter to hang onto. If that works, you can head to a flight of stairs, pick a stair that gets you on an angle, and use that for your push-up.

As you feel stronger with that, you can go down to the next stair, which would get you more toward a horizontal position. You can keep progressing in that way until you feel comfortable with horizontal. Even then, you can make it easier by doing them from a kneeling position, but with your back in line with your thighs.

What to watch out for to make push-ups effective.
No matter which of the positions mentioned above that you are using, the guidelines are the same.

  1. On the way down, pay attention to involving your shoulder blades in the movement by squeezing them together a bit. Many of us are pretty frozen in this area, which can cause all sorts of problems. Getting your shoulder blades moving can help you develop better posture (get away from being rounded) breathe better, and take some pressure off your neck.
  2. Have someone watch you or bring your awareness to your torso. Is it twisting or tilting to one side or another? If so, go slowly down and see if you can tell where the breakdown is. It could be in the abdominal muscles along your sides, in your arms, or in your shoulders. These areas can be strengthened separately to get you back into being able to do the push-up. Or, sometimes just paying attention, using an easier version for a while, and correcting yourself as you do the exercise can get you there.
  3. Make sure your back is not sagging. You need to maintain a position with your back mostly straight except for the normal slight curves at the low back and mid back areas. Draw your naval to your spine to brace this position so that your back does not arch or cave in. This is huge for strengthening the stability you can get from the muscles around your spine and torso. With that on board, as you go about your life’s activities, you will be getting a better transfer of energy from the lower body to the upper body and vice versa. Here is another way to make your movements better and more efficient. And, your posture will be impacted for the better as well.

So there you have it. Push-ups, if done mindfully and correctly, can almost be the best thing since sliced bread. You do not have to shy away from these. Just by paying a bit of attention and working with your capabilities, you can get the huge benefits that push-ups can give you. AND you can pat yourself on the back for finding an exercise that can save you time, be done just about anywhere, and can amaze your friends (sorry…just had to throw that in…).

Where are you in your quest to do push-ups? Please comment below. I would love to get your feedback.

© 2016-2020 Kristen Carter. All rights reserved.

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