This is the first in a series of posts I’ll be doing concerning some of the movements we do in our Functional Fitness program.
I know…we have a lot of Push-ups here at Kemme Fitness. I believe we are up to around 2 dozen different variations, with many more to come. They range from the typical Push-up to the crazy Psycho Push-up. We have Push-ups with medicine balls and Push-ups with Physioballs. We even have Push-ups with a pull-up bar. We have Push-ups for your car. (sorry, was feeling a little doctor seuss there).
We even have complete Push-up workouts such as the Push-up Challenge.
Why so many freaking Push-ups you may ask? One answer – Variety! We love variety in our program to fight the “mental game” that is all workout programs.
Why the Push-up to begin with?
There are a few good reasons for incorporating Push-ups into your workout program. First off, they are free! Bodyweight exercises require no equipment, so I of course like them for that reason.
But Push-ups are also a great way to test your core strength. They are a wonderful gauge for beginners to determine where they are. For example, if you do a Push-up and can not keep your hips in line with your feet and neck (you know – droopy lower back) then you know you have to progress in that area, meaning strengthen your core, before going on to the more challenging movements such as Burpees that incorporate Push-ups.
Another good aspect of a Push-up is that it does work a great deal more of your body than a static bench press. It is not a Pec-isolating movement. Push-ups require you to “fire your glutes” and tighten your core. You get ripped doing hundreds of Push-ups, unlike getting huge Pecs from doing hundreds of pounds of bench presses. The point is that it does not build up a particular muscle, but is a great strength exercise that gives you a natural shape.
Push-ups are also a very functional movement. In life, we get up off the ground, or push off of things. Just use your imagination and I bet you can see yourself doing something similar to a Push-up during your chores, playing with your kids, or just even catching yourself in a fall so you don’t get hurt.
There are a few down sides to Push-ups. You do need to master form, although that is a given for any exercise. There isn’t necessarily tons of injury risk, but you are not getting the benefits if your back is saggy.
There is one real risk with Push-ups though – the wrists. There are some physical therapists who hate the Push-up because it over-flexes the wrist while supporting bodyweight. This is true. It is generally not a problem for most people. In fact, your wrist can get a little stronger in this area with work, so you can overcome the soreness. With that said, if you experience pain, you should back off and consider buying Push-up handles or use dumbbells to keep your wrists in the neutral position. However, I would prefer you work with a physical therapist to find ways to strengthen your muscles to the point to do Push-ups versus avoiding them. Why? Well, what if you fall and land on your wrists? If you spend the rest of your life avoiding the bending of your wrists like that, just imagine what injuries would happen if you fall forward!
If you can safely, it is always better to strengthen than to avoid. Hey that sounds like a little mantra! Hmmm, I might have to start using that one more often. 🙂
Just remember – especially you women who avoid Push-ups – that a Push-up is a great staple of a workout program. Many fun and exciting exercises come off of being able to do that one movement. So practice. Start out on your knees if you have to (that is not cheating even for men). Do some Spiderman Push-ups from your knees. You can still do some Push-up variations from your knees for fun before you master a perfect Push-up.
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And everyone will be glad to know that I got some inspiration & thought up of yet another variation on the push up. The countdown push up – more on this to come w/ a wod I’m currently working on.
Pete, however, is dead right on the push up. Push ups & air squats are probably the two best free body weight exercises you can do. The variation of push ups & air squats (I do Hindu Squats) is simply to keep the mental fatigue away. In my many years of working out I have always found that once I start getting bored of a certain routine/exercise a couple of things happen: 1) my motivation to workout goes down & I start skipping the wod, 2) when I do the workout I start cheating on it b/c I’m bored, & 3) the workout begins to get easy due to muscle memory & thus I don’t get as much of a benefit from it. Hence the variety.
As they (whoever they are) say: variety is the spice o’ life.
Fear the countdown push up – coming soon to a wod near you.
Thanks for the reminder about pushups. I started doing them again a couple months ago, but then kind of stopped for no real reason. I am starting them again tonight!
Glad to hear. If you do get bored, check out the Exercise Page on the menu above. I had all the Push-ups together, but now they are alphabetical. I’d say check out the Spiderman Push-up, the Scorpion Push-up, the Pike Push-up, and the Offset Push-up first.