I used to have a love hate relationship with this exercise, maybe that’s because I wasn’t always so good at them as my lower body strength has always been a lot stronger than my upper body. As a side note, this is pretty common in females, our lower bodies are naturally stronger than our upper bodies. With some application of the principle of specificity (training given muscle groups, in this case upper body muscles), we will improve the strength of those muscle groups. Pushups are a great exercise to improve both upper body strength and endurance. Over time I have grown to love push ups, even when I do feel the burn, and I hope with these few modifications and variations you will too (okay maybe like not love).
The push up is an exercise that focuses on the muscle of the chest and engages the muscles of the core, the arms, the shoulders. In fact, I would venture to say it’s a pseudo total body exercise. One of the great aspects of the push up is that it can be done anywhere without any equipment and it is modifiable. Take for example my 95 year old grandmother, we can have her do push ups on a wall. Then my mother, love you mom, she’s been working on her upper body strength, and can modify the pushup to her knees. Then you have my sister, who performs a standard push up.
Above I am demonstrating knee push ups - notice my hips are in a line with my shoulders and knees. Aim to keep a flat back and hips. Below is a standard push up, again, aim for a straight line between ankles, hips, and shoulders, keeping the core engaged.
Another plus about the pushup is the variability you can incorporate. By adding in a bench, you can do incline push ups or decline push ups which target different angles of the pectoral muscles. In the case of today, I did not have access to a gym but I used the various surfaces of the rocks to create an incline or a decline.
In the image above, I was performing pushups on a decline, with a little encouragement from my new friend, I was able to keep going! In the image below, I was on a slight incline.
Want to get that heart pumping a bit? Try doing push up step ups on the bench. Start with your hands on the ground, bring one hand up to the bench and then the other. Perform an incline push up at the top of the bench. Then bring one hand back down and then the other.
And last but not least – push ups can be done literally anywhere. On the beach, in your living room, at the gym, at the beach, on the rocks, you name it.
In an effort to improve upper body strength and total body strength, work to incorporate push ups into your workout program. I recommend starting with 3 to 4 sets of 10-15 repetitions 2-3 times a week.
Have a great rest of your week! Above are some outtakes from shooting, thank you Lisa! We had a blast with this guy ;).
Let me know where you get in your random push ups this week! I love to hear from you!