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The benefits of doing push ups, and why you need them in your life.

Why You Need To Learn, To Love Push Ups.

Love them or hate them, the benefits of doing push ups as part of your routine are worth the effort they take.  Push ups are one of the best exercises you can do to help build all over body strength and endurance.  If you can bring yourself to include push ups within your workouts, you will really appreciate the effects that they have on your body.  Push ups are compound moves, using major muscle groups, such as chest, triceps, biceps and back.  Not only do push ups help create shapely arms and shoulders, they also work your cardio system, making the heart work harder whilst it supplies oxygen to multiple muscles.  Performed correctly you will be engaging your core and using your lower body to stabilise the movement.  Push ups really do work the whole body.

Think you're not fit enough to do a push up.

I'm sorry to break it to you, but you can do them, no matter how fit or strong you are.  Push ups can be tailored to your individual fitness levels, making them easier or harder to perform to suit you, so there is no excuse not to give them a go.

Think you will never be able to do a 'real push up'.

I know what you are thinking I can't possibly do a 'real push up' - well maybe not straight away, but with practice you will be able to get to a point where a full push up is within your reach.

Mastering the technique can be achieved in stages.  If you are a beginner and think you would prefer to start with a modified push up i.e on your knees - well that's fine as most of us started that way.  However if you could manage to start with an incline push up, this will greatly increase your chances of making the transition to a full push up.  Incline push ups are best performed using a steady surface, such as a bench or stairs to elevate the top part of your body.  Once you are comfortable at that height you can decrease the elevation a bit at a time until you are at floor level.

If you have never attempted a push up and feel that your fitness levels are really not up to it, a standing push up is the alternative for you.  A standing push up is performed with palms flat on wall, shoulder distance apart and at shoulder height.  To begin with start with feet under hips, bend elbows and slowly bring chest to the wall, push away from wall (still maintaining contact with your palms), back to starting position.  Try not to flare elbows out to the side and keep them pointing down.  Once you become stronger you can increase the difficulty by moving your feet further away from the wall, as long as you can still keep your heels on the floor.

Make sure you are making the most out of your hard work.

To make sure your hard work is not going to waste, it's really important to try and get your technique right.  Taking time to make sure your form is correct will help avoid injury and ensure you are getting the maximum benefits for your effort.  When performing a push up try to follow these tips:
Body is in a straight line.
Squeeze your shoulder blades together, pulling your shoulders down and away from your ears.
Engage your abs and tighten your core.
Squeeze your glutes to help protect your lower back.
Hands slightly wider than shoulder width, flat on floor at 45 degree angle, allowing for a more stable position. A study carried out in 2005 indicated that having your hands wider than shoulder width is the most efficient position, helping to prevent exhaustion.
Elbows in and not flared out.
Exhale and use force to push off the floor/bench.  Inhale and lower chest to floor under control.
Take it slowly, it's not how many but the quality that counts.  Performed too quickly it's common not to allow a full range of movement.
To help further, watch the videos below, where Sarah will guide you through different variations.

Push ups are a great way to measure progress in fitness levels.

The push up test is a standard way in which fitness is often measured.  There are guidelines to indicate if the amount of push ups you can perform, fall into weak or strong categories etc,  a good place to start is by following the fitness test below.

Push up fitness test.

Choose the type of push up which suits you and try to make sure you hold correct form, whilst performing as many push ups as possible within a one minute period.

Once you have done the above test try the following challenge and then repeat the fitness test to see how much you have improved.

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