If you’re a Bootique Fitness member, you’ll be aware of our monthly do-something-daily fitness challenges this year. Several of our physical challenges have included exercises that contain pushing motions. Why do we think push-ups are so important, and what should you be doing to perfect this super-move? We’ve got ten reasons you should push it—push it real good!
Push-ups look cool
Let’s face it, there’s something downright awesome about the way someone looks doing push-ups. Your body has that long and lean look as you demonstrate your power and control. If that’s not enough motivation, keep reading.
Push-ups sculpt your arms and chest
Who doesn’t want long, lean arms? Push-up variations challenge your shoulders and arms. The first half of the movement, the eccentric part, performed with lots of control, requires your muscles to elongate. And on the way up, your deltoids, triceps, biceps, and forearms all work together to move your weight against gravity and get stronger.
Push-ups work your core
Your core has to do a lot of work during a push-up. Your body has four points of contact with the ground, on much less surface area than it’s used to! For perfect form, you have to keep your whole body in a straight line, which requires the control of your lower back, quads, and abdominals. Tip: squeeze your glutes to automatically engage as you do this movement.
Push-ups can be made easier
On your knees! Of course the traditional push-up is done with your feet on the ground, but there’s no shame in performing an easier variation while you work up to more reps. There are two fundamental ways to make push-ups easier. One is to reduce the amount of your body you’re pushing, by performing them on your knees, either with your knees under your hips or behind them. Another option is to raise the height of your hands, for example performing them standing against a wall, on your counter, or on a low stair or bench.
Push-ups can be done anywhere
This is one exercise for which there are NO excuses. Unless you’re an astronaut, chances are good there’s gravity around for you to work against. No equipment or even special clothing required!
Push-ups can be made more challenging
We’ve told you the ways you can make push-ups easier if the traditional one is already challenging, but if you’re ready to kick it up to the next level, here’s a few ways to make it harder. Clap between reps. Increase the amount of your body you’re pushing by raising your feet onto a low bench or stair. Move your hands closer together. Make your hands or feet asymmetrical, by lifting one leg or moving one hand forward or backward. Google “planche push-up” for a demo of the ultimate warrior move.
Push-ups are a functional movement
We love functional movements. The point of putting all this work into fitness is to live better. Because this is a total-body move, you’re using all the muscles that you would in difficult everyday tasks, like moving furniture and playing sports.
Push-ups are a mental exercise
You probably don’t need me to tell you that push-ups can require some mental toughness. Finishing a set of a challenging move is always a way to make your body show your brain who’s boss. You may think you can’t, but you’ll be surprised at what your body can do if you let it.
Push-ups strengthen your stabilizing muscles
Keeping your body in a straight line may not seem difficult when you’re standing up, but when your body is horizontal it requires the coordination and participation of muscles that aren’t working that much when we’re standing or sitting. While you might feel your back get sore from push-ups initially, you’ll be working your abdominals and obliques during the exercise. Once those muscles get strong, your back won’t be doing as much of the work.
Push-ups show your imbalances
Most people are not 100% symmetrical. Your right or left side might have more coordination or power, just due to the way you’re used to using your body every day. But push-ups will show you which side you tend to favor, and therefore, which to try to challenge in other exercises.
Now that you have ten reasons to put push-ups in your routine, drop and give me ten!