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5 Benefits of Push-Ups: Tone, Trim & Get Back in Shape


If you stroll into a gym during peak hours you’ll find people (mostly men) sweating, grunting and valiantly doing one push-up after another. With sturdy arms and a straight spine they’ll lift themselves up and down till their bodies tremble and collapse back down on the ground. It makes me wonder, are push-ups really worth all the trouble?

Martin Rooney, creator of the ‘Training for Warrior System’ seems to think that push-ups are the real deal: “Push-ups help build strength, burn more calories, increase mental toughness and instill confidence.” They work every muscle in your body, from your neck to your toes, also strengthening your chest, abs, shoulders and triceps. No wonder an article published in The New York Times referred to push-ups as the ‘ultimate barometer of fitness’.

That said, if you’re one of those people who remain essentially motionless through the day, except when you squirm around for water or bathroom breaks, doing push-ups a few times a week will serve as a great workout. Here’s why:

1. It’s a Good Full Body Workout – By working on a large number of muscles in your body, push-ups help tremendously for a fitter you. Push-ups help you focus on your arms, abs and your lower body, all at the same time. They train your muscles to work together and become stronger.

2. Helps Create Balance and Stability – According to David Nordmark, author of the book Pushups for Everyone: Perfect Pushup Workout for Muscle Growth, Strength & Endurance, “push-ups help improve your reaction time by helping to train your proprioceptive muscle fibers. These fibers are microscopic nerves that keep your body balanced. When you attempt a push-up these nerves are firing constantly in an effort to keep your body from tipping over. This trains them to respond more quickly to stimulation which aids your balance and speed.”

3. Helps Build Muscle Density – With age, you start to lose muscle density which alters the way in which your body uses and burns energy. One of the things exercise intends to do is maintain if not improve muscle density. This does not mean that you’ll see results with a few push-ups. An article on the website Fitness Black & White outlines the ideal number of push-ups you need to do to build muscle mass in different parts of your body.

1. Chest, Shoulders and Triceps – 4 sets of 12-15 reps

2. Back and Biceps – 4 sets of 12-15 reps

3. Legs and Abs – 4 sets of 12-15 reps

4. Upper Body Definition – Push-ups have sometimes been labeled as the one of the most suitable upper body workouts and for good reason. According to LaReine Chabut, “When you do a push-up, you recruit your core muscles to help keep your back straight and assist you in pulling your belly button toward your spine.” They sculpt not just your arms but your chest, back and shoulders.

5. A Strong Core – If you’re looking for washboard abs and a strong core, then push-ups might just be the perfect starting point. By core, we mean the abdominal section, waist, side of the waist and everything right down to the pelvis. Strong core muscles allow you to do physical activities with ease, help with back problems and maintain good posture.

Tips to Doing Push-ups

Watching someone do a push-up makes it seem real hard, but it doesn’t have to be. Read these tips before you attempt one and with a little practice, you’ll be swift in no time.

1. Don’t Rush – Yes, it does matter how many push-ups you can get through, but not when you’re doing them in the wrong motion.

2. One Straight Line – Make sure your legs, hips, neck and head are in one straight line. Slowly, but gradually lift them off the floor and come back down in the exact same position. If you can’t go all the way up and come back down then try one of the variations to see which one you can follow to the T.

3. Lift Those Hips – Weight distribution changes with difference in the angle of your body so don’t let your hips loose. Keep them tight and aligned with your neck and feet. Any kind of weight distribution can hamper with the kind of resistance you’re trying to build. When your shoulders are aligned with your feet, your arms are working more than your feet. And when your body assumes an upward slant (moving up from your feet), you lower body is building more resistance.

4. Watch Those Hands – A 2005 study suggests that placing your hands wider than the shoulder width and in line with the shoulder may be an optimum efficient hand position for push-up performance. This wide position would also result in less fatigue or exhaustion.

5. Don’t Lift the Shoulders – While lifting your body off the ground make sure you aren’t lifting your shoulders but are only moving your shoulder blades backwards.

Category: Health Tips

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