Pushups, when done with proper form, activate nearly every muscle in your body. Your biceps, core muscles, triceps, anterior deltoids, and lower body muscle groups are all activated to support your body and stabilizing your movement. This makes pushups are great for your heart too! When you simultaneously work large muscle groups, your heart must work harder to deliver oxygenated blood to all the muscles. Ultimately, pushups are both an effective strength and cardiovascular exercise, which stimulates muscle growth, supports heart health and promotes fat loss.
Bonus: You don’t need any equipment or very much time to get in somebody toning pushups! Now drop and give me 10!
...wait… remember that part about perfect form to maximize effectiveness. Before you drop and give me 10 read on about the perfect pushup form, how to master the perfect pushup, and how to build the strength to get off your knees.
Perfect Pushup Form
While you read this really let the form sink in. Don’t let the negative thoughts in your brain tell you “you can’t do it perfectly like that anyway, why bother”.... Because with practice you can! I’m going to show you how at the end of this post.
“Now I can do pushups and I really like that. I like when I got into the yoga class now and I’m the one that’s going to be full on pushups. Even if there are other things I can’t do that give me so much confidence and pride.”
Step 1: Get into a straight arm plank position with hands planted directly under the shoulders (slightly wider than shoulder width apart). Ground the toes into the floor about hip width apart (wider for more balance or feet together for an added core challenge) to stabilize the bottom half of the body. Engage the abs and back so the body is neutral, in one straight line.
Step 2: Begin to lower the body as you inhale—back flat, eyes focused about three feet in front of your hands to keep a neutral neck—until you nearly touch the floor, chest directly between the hands. Don’t let the butt dip or stick out at any point during the move; the body should remain flat from head to toe all the way through the movement. Draw the shoulder blades back and down, while keeping the elbows tucked close to the body, so the upper arms form a 45-degree angle at the bottom of the pushup position and the elbows break the plane of the back.
Step 3: Keeping the core engaged, exhale as you push back to the start position as explosively as possible.
HOW TO GET THERE
That’s all well and good but pushups are hard. Which is why we women often resort to dropping to our knees. Yes they make it easier because they take away some of the weight you are pushing up but they also take away from all those full body benefits mentioned above.
Instead, try the Negative pushup!
These engage the full body the same way as the full pushup while helping you build up the strength necessary to complete the whole movement. All the work in a Negative pushup is done lowering yourself down as slow as possible. Don't worry about how you are getting back up.
Here’s how it works:
Be sure to follow all of the good from rules above.
Step 1: Start in a perfect pushup plank position as mention above.
Step 2: Slowly lower your body all the way down to the floor. Really focus on keeping that perfect straight line form I talked about earlier. Unless you are pregnant don’t worry about falling onto your belly; in that case, inclined pushups are a better option. Use every last bit of strength to go as slow as possible, and then lay down on the floor. Take 2-second break if necessary.
Step 3: Push yourself back up into the plank by any means necessary.
Start with 3 sets of 10 a couple times a week. After a few weeks, try to make the first few full pushups and go back to the negative pushups when you can’t do anymore. Over time the ratio with shift and you’ll be doing more and more full pushups.