If you’re looking to build upper body strength, push-ups are about to be your new best friend. Some people might be surprised to hear that push-ups aren’t only about upper body strength — they use your core strength, too.
While push-ups look like such a simple, straightforward move, they are harder than they look because they work much more than just the arms. The chest, shoulders, triceps, abs and lower back can be toned through this move, and when they’re performed on the toes, push-ups can develop glute and thigh strength too.
While working the entire body is a highly efficient way to build strength, it can also set you up for injuries when done incorrectly, potentially causing muscle strain in the back, neck, wrists and shoulders. Even your hips can become injured from push-ups done in poor form.
Here’s how to master this common strength training exercise so you aren’t intimidated.
Start With A Plank
Begin in a full plank position with your arms extended and your palms flat, directly below your shoulder. Keep your back straight. Feet should be together or about a foot apart. Your weight should be evenly distributed with your heels reaching toward the back of the room.
Look down as you lower your body. Ideally, your elbows will come to a 90-degree angle before you push back up to complete one rep. Hips and shoulders should remain at the same level as you go. Try taking a few seconds to lower down, pausing and then pushing your body back up quickly. Then repeat as many as you can while maintaining good form. This could be 15 or two reps. It doesn’t matter, just focus on hitting this number with a rest day between each session. As your body improves, you can add additional reps.
Modify Push-Ups When Needed
The best part about push-ups is that they can be modified. By adjusting the angle of your body or hand placement, as well as the speed, you can increase or decrease the intensity. If a full plank position is too much to maintain, try resting on your knees instead.
Work With The Best Push-Up Board
The best push-up boards can help with proper alignment. They are sturdy platforms with handles to grip while you’re performing this exercise. Good for beginners or pros, this inexpensive tool offers color-coded adjustments for the handles, showing you how to increase intensity as you go. They also don’t take up much space.
Those with wrist issues favor boards because they help keep wrists in a neutral position, making them less stressed. Push-up boards are ideal for gymnasts because it elevates their hands, making it easier to perform L-sits and handstands.
If you’re in the market for this handy piece of gym equipment, check out our selection of the best push-up boards that’s been vetted by a team of experts.
Lowering your hips or arching the lower back are common form mistakes people make when performing push-ups. This undue stress can trigger back pain.
Take Your Push-Ups Up A Notch
Strength gain can plateau over time, even when using a push-up board. This happens with all bodyweight exercises. One way to help you start gaining muscle mass again is to place weights on your back while doing push-ups.
If you want to test your strength, try this 50 Push-Up Challenge that can transform your entire body.