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If you are a guy you have probably been doing push-ups since you were a kid, all men and some women have always used the push up as a measure of strength, including you, don’t lie! There’s something about this simple, ancient body weight exercise that just appeals to us. Conversely we all hate it! I included! Why do we love and hate this quaint exercise so much? Well we love it for its simplicity and hate it because it tires you out so fast. Apart from being a muscle building exercise, it turns out the humble push-up is also a cardio workout in disguise. Lastly, many of us just do not know how to execute a proper push-up or press up (they are the same thing folks).
No fear or shame, today we are looking at the how and why of push-ups, why there are an ever green bodybuilder and how to execute them properly for the best effect. Do it right and I promise, your chest will love you for it.
If you think that the push-up cannot generate enough “resistance” for your muscles to grow, you would be wrong. While it’s true that the exercise does not generate as much resistance as a 150 kg bench press, please do not over look its benefits. When your goal is to increase muscle size, remember that what matters is not the weight you lift but the level of engagement and exertion you muscles go through and building muscle is mostly about stressing them to fatigue and exhaustion, your chest muscles are no exception this. My favourite is the “German system” an example is doing 10 sets of 10 push-ups with very little rest in between, you will be shocked at how quickly you chest fatigues from this “light” exercise. So why should you do 10 X 10 push-ups instead of benching? The answer is simple; shoulder mobility.
When you bench, your shoulders are pinned to the bench to maintain good form but it impedes your shoulders from moving as God designed them to, to have full upper body strength and mobility, make sure you do push-ups on your chest day.
Some of us find push-ups scary and a bit daunting; some avoid it because they don’t want to be laughed at for not having the strength to push themselves off the floor more than 3 times, I know I have! Don’t avoid push-ups out of fear, instead PRACTICE, and think about it, who ever got worse from practicing?
:Very often beginners (and especially women) are instructed to do “girlie” pushups, with the knees bent and touching the floor. The problem with girlie pushups is that it gives too much room for cheating. Instead you should elevate your upper body and torso as high as you need them to be, with the help of some exercise steps for example while keeping your toes firmly on the ground. You can gradually lower yourself and get rid of the steps as you get stronger.
HOW DEEP SHOULD YOU GO?
Unless you have a history of shoulder pain like me, my answer to this question would have to be, as deep as you can! Many instructors will tell you not to go down too low in your push-up due to safety concerns and I get that, but like I said earlier, if you are not in pain or recovering from a shoulder injury then go down as low as you can with your chest centimeters from the ground and your elbows open about 45 degrees from your body. DO NOT, I repeat do not open your arms all the way from your body, I did that for years and all I achieved was messed up shoulders!
HOW MANY PUSH UPS SHOULD YOU DO?
Volume is king when it comes to push-ups, and the more you can do them, the stronger and bigger your chest. However, there is more than one route to the market with push up volume, you can go the German system of 10 X 10, i.e 10 sets of ten reps or 4 to 5 sets of 20 reps each, it doesn’t matter both are effective. With push-ups you need consistency as much as volume, the more you do it, the stronger your chest and triceps will get.
WHERE DO PUSH UPS FIT IN YOUR WORKOUT?
Well that depends on your goals, exercise routine and personal schedule. If you barely have time can only fit in 30 minutes of exercise 4 times a week then do your press ups every chance you get, go at it hard, as many as you can and as long as you can. If on the other hand you workout in a gym and have a dedicated day for your chest then your best bet would be to your push-ups last when your chest and shoulders are already fatigued and you just want to finish them off, push-ups will give you that metabolic kick you need to burn fat and build muscle.
There you have it people the how, why and when of push-ups. They are a classic body weight exercise, zero equipment needed; all you have to do is show up and get down! The results are guaranteed to come, no matter who you are, try push-ups 3 times a week for 4 weeks and tell me your chest still looks the same, I dare you!
Thanks, and do have a wonderful weekend!