Why Push-ups Should Be a Part of Every Routine
The absolute best way to incorporate exercise is to first choose an activity that you actually enjoy. The second best way is to make sure you perform exercises that will save you the most time while giving you maximum benefits. This is where push-ups come in handy. You may think of push-ups as an exercise that is only for men and gives you big, bulky muscles, but this is far from the truth. Women can benefit just as much from incorporating push-ups into their routines, and will most definitely not bulk up into the shape of a bodybuilder if that is what you are thinking. They may seem like a hard exercise to do for some, but with proper form and practice, they can actually be a quick and easy way to strengthen every part of the body.
Benefits of Push-Ups
Full Body Workout
The best benefit of push-ups is the fact that they engage many muscle groups at once. From the moment you get in the starting position, the body requires the activation of several muscles for stabilization. The arms may be the parts that are performing the actual movement, but if it weren’t for the core muscles, the push-up movement would not even be possible. The core includes the upper to lower back muscles, abdominals, hip flexors, and all of the glute muscles. The job of these groups of muscles is to control the body from falling to either side and keeping it in a straight line throughout the entire movement.
During different parts of the push-up movement, there are muscles being put on a stretch. While in the starting position, where arms are straight, the biceps are being stretched. At the lowest point of the movement, where the elbows are bent and the body is close to the floor, the chest muscles are stretched out. Improving the flexibility of these muscles is important for proper posture while standing which leads to less risk of low back pain and other injuries.
The most common reason given when asked why people do not exercise enough is lack of time. Yes, it takes time to get ready to work out and drive to and from the gym, but choosing exercises such as push-ups can be a huge time saver in these cases! As mentioned, movements that engage the entire body at once are key to getting the most out of workouts when you are short on time.
Challenges the Body
Improving strength, flexibility, and core stabilization are the main reasons why push-ups are such a beneficial exercise to include in your regular workout routine. Another good reason is because there are several ways to make them more challenging. Variations are plenty so changing them up each time is easy. Rotating the hands inwards or outwards, spreading the feet, and changing the speed of the push-up are just a few ways to target different muscles.
The Perfect Push-Up
It is important to perform push-ups with the proper form to avoid injuries. The starting position should have the hands in line with the shoulders and the head, spine, and hips should all be parallel and in line with the floor. Ideally lowering to the ground should be done slowly and to the full range if possible. For those with more weakness in the upper body or core, a modified push-up can be done. This is where the knees are on the ground to help stabilize and decrease the amount of weight the upper body has to carry. The standard push-up is where the elbows angle out and back but stay close to the body at the bottom of the movement.
Keeping the hands closer together and elbows straight back glued to the body at the bottom of the movement works the triceps more, while widening the hands will engage the chest muscles more effectively. Adding in a side plank throughout the movement, as shown below, creates a challenge for the stabilizing core muscles and incorporates a more cardiovascular workout. Another great challenge for the balance and core is performing push-ups with just one foot stabilizing the body. Even more challenging is trying a push-up with one arm!
With so many effective variations to perform push-ups, they should be a staple to any exercise routine. Adding in a few sets three times per week is all it takes to reap the benefits. General strengthening is beneficial for many reasons including lowering the risk of heart disease, obesity, arthritis, and osteoporosis. Strong muscles will especially help runners last longer during those hard runs and races, as well as keep them free from injuries. The legs are not the only part that is required for running. The core muscles keep the pelvis stable and help control a good posture, and the arms are involved in the forward motion and trunk rotation in running. Runners can easily add in a couple of sets of push-ups before or after runs to fit in this necessary component to their training programs.