With a gym full of upper body equipment, it can be easy to push off classic groundwork exercises like pushups. However, push ups are a great way to work the upper body without all those fancy pieces of equipment, which makes them great for at home workouts or exercises at the gym.
In upper body work, most equipment-based workouts push the shoulder blades back into the bench. This is important for safety and to promote a stronger rep for the flat or incline bench or chest press machine. However, push ups allow freedom of the back, allowing the shoulder blades to move and activating the serratus anterior muscles.
Pushups also work the abs, obliques, deltoids, pecs, triceps, and biceps.
Modified Push Ups for Beginners
Not everyone can immediately do a clean pushup. As easy as they sound, pushups can be difficult to start from point zero. Although many people are taught to do modified pushups by putting their knees on the ground, this isn’t as effective as other methods of modification. For example, start in a traditional push up position but add elevation to your hand positions. Use a Smith Machine or even simple blocks. Band assisted push ups place a band looped around a rack or J hooks around your hips to support.
How Far Should I Go Down with a Pushup?
Many people wonder how far down to go with pushups, especially those who are just starting. How deep you go depends mostly on how healthy and strong your shoulders and arms are. Theoretically, everyone should be able to perform a full push up to the floor unless it physically hurts you to. Listen to your body.
How Many Pushups Should I Do?
Pushups are great for volume based exercises. Sets of 6-8 are a good place to start, but pushing up to 15-20 reps can help add size, strength, and thickness to your chest and triceps. Warm up your muscles with rows before pushups to avoid stress induced injuries to the shoulders. Because pushups can be fairly heavy pressing exercises, they can be a great finishing movement.
Advanced Modified Push Ups
Stability balls are a great way to increase the difficulty of basic pushups. By making the exercise less stable, your body needs to work harder to balance and perform the workout. Decline push ups put your feet above your head, effectively increasing the amount of body weight your arms and chest have to push up against. Diamond pushups are done by putting the hands close together to make a diamond with your thumb and index fingers.
Avoiding Common Mistakes
One common mistake is sagging your torso and core. To fix it, work on your plank to increase your core strength. Your neck should be neutral, in a straight line parallel to the floor, eyes down. Don’t look up or forwards or you’ll strain your neck. Your hands should be directly under your shoulders to avoid straining your shoulders. Placing them too far forward can stress your shoulders and joints. Lastly, never lock your elbows at the top of the movement. You should keep a slight bend to avoid straining the muscles and stressing the joints.