The push-up is a workout staple that targets multiple muscles and joints in one go. This bodyweight exercise can be done pretty much anywhere. When done correctly, this functional, total body movement can leave you feeling powerful. A push-up targets your upper body, particularly your chest, arms and back. It helps build your core strength, which improves your posture and helps keep back pain at bay.
In a 2019 study of 1104 active adult men published in JAMA Network Open, it was revealed that “participants able to complete more than 40 push-ups were associated with a significantly lower risk of incident cardiovascular disease (CVD) event risk compared with those completing fewer than 10 push-ups.”
Another reason why the push-up is so popular is because of its versatility. There are several variations of a push-up that you can attempt as you get stronger. “With your core engaged, you must begin with 45-60 seconds of planks on palms before anything else”, explains Neha Agarwalla, CrossFit Level 3 coach and co-founder of 303 CrossFit Drive. You can slowly progress to incline push-ups against a wall or a chair and knee push-ups, where your knees touch the ground and your feet are raised and crossed. After you’ve mastered the classic push-up, you can try the weighted, one-arm or declined versions as well to challenge yourself. However, there must be a professional supervising your form and making sure that you’re not arching your back, relaxing your core or flaring out your arms.
Since this is a pushing exercise, Agarwalla suggests you also include pulling exercises like dumbbell bench presses and dumbbell rows in your routine to balance out the training and strengthen your entire body.
If you find yourself trying for a while but not being able to complete even a single repetition, chances are your stance needs some improvement. The right form is indispensable to avoid unwanted injuries, advises Agarwalla as she demonstrates the correct way to perform a push-up.
Steps To Master The Perfect Push-Up
- On a hard and level surface, get into a plank position. Face the floor and balance your body weight on your palms and toes. A push-up is a lot like an up-down moving plank.
- Tighten your abs and squeeze your butt. Your core needs to be engaged, as it will stabilise your movement. You can also keep your feet a little wider apart (but still parallel to each other) to increase stabilisation.
- It is important that you do not arch your lower back, to avoid aches and injuries. Just like a plank, you must position your neck, spine and legs in a straight line.
- Make sure that your hands are placed on the floor, in line with your chest. They should not be too far ahead and be placed shoulder-width apart and pointing forward. Your head should face either downwards or slightly forward.
- Your elbows should be in line with your shoulders and palms. When you go down, they should push back and tuck in instead of flaring out.
- You need to squeeze your hips (or the glute muscles) and align them with the rest of your body. Your hips should not be raised too high.
- Finally, keep some tension in your arms as you lower your body down. Maintaining alignment, bring yourself back up. Inhale as you descend, exhale as you ascend. Start with 5 repetitions and then aim higher as you progress.