Push-ups are one of the best exercises for building upper body strength as well as core strength.
Most women instinctively shy away from them, mainly because the thought of pushing your own body weight from the floor is daunting and it’s hard to make a face plant look graceful!
Push-ups are hard! I remember a time when I could barely do one! But that was mainly because of my overall bad form and lack of persistence.
Don’t fear them though! With the right tools to execute a push-up effectively, you’ll be able to progress quickly, and go from bending your arms a mere centimeter, to getting your nose to hover just above the ground.
Patience and Persistence with the right form is all it takes.
No gym? No problem! Once you get them right, there are endless variations of a push-up and the bonus is that they require no equipment at all.
So, how do you get good at push-ups? I mean really, really good? Here’s how:
1) Think of the body as one unit and maintain tension. As you lower to the bottom of a push-up you want to make sure that you are bringing the body down together, as soon as one part begins to stray, you know that you have ventured too deep for your current strength – such as low back dropping, head diving (will cover this next), leaving the butt up in the air.
As you lift from a push-up, you should maintain tension – pull the navel into your spine to allow the core to tighten, and pull your shoulder blades together.
Despite the common modification by many, your butt should never stay up in the air. Instead, the hips should be square with the floor.
Many women need to begin doing pushups on their knees until they feel strong enough to move to toe pushups. This is totally fine! But you still need think of your body – from your knees to the crown of your head – as one. If your butt is up in the air, then you’re not really building strength.
An even further modification is to begin a push-up from a standing position and perform a walk pushup.
For an in-between variation, before you move onto your toes, that will build core strength, you can try a Swiss Ball Pushup with your thighs on the ball.
2) Lead with the chest and not with the head. Another common mistake is that people dive their head forward as they push-up, so much so that it actually becomes a neck straining exercise rather than a strengthening exercise.
One of the best ways to remedy this is to use a dowel rod or a helpful friend’s arm. This will promote proper alignment and encourage the right muscles to activate.
Get a pal to place a dowel rod or broomstick along your back. As you do a push-up, make sure that the back of your head and mid-back stay connected to the rod.
Alternatively, your friend can place their forearm and hand along your spine and head and as you perform a push-up, make sure that you stay connected.
3) Breathe! Breath is critical to maintaining a strong push-up. Inhale and lower down and then deeply exhale as your draw your belly button into your spine to stabilize and push yourself back up.
4) Consistency. Doing push-ups once a month just won’t cut it! If you want to get good at them you need to practice them 2-3 times a week and go until failure. If you are currently doing them on your knees and you can whip out 10 no problem, then you need to progress to your toes. Try 5 on your toes and then 5 on your knees, until that becomes 10 on your toes. Then you’re ready to incorporate some exciting variations.
Try these 5 fun variations when you’re ready!
1) One Legged Push-up with Optional Knee Tuck – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M7-L9RD_6eA&feature=youtu.be
2) Rock and Roll Push-up – https://youtu.be/r6AHI_YIhw0
3) Rolling Push-up – https://youtu.be/MYmL5kvMknE
4) Decline Swiss Ball Pushup – https://youtu.be/bqs2opgPAhY
5) Towel Core Thrust to Push-up – https://youtu.be/4rd14_CyZF0
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