Master the Move | The Pushup

by Tim DiFrancesco
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Master the Move | The Pushup

The classic pushup is often taken for granted, but if you give it a chance — and do it right — you won’t be disappointed. Most people assume pushups are simply an upper-body exercise. While they definitely target your chest and arms, they also challenges your core, hips and glutes.

Mastering the pushup helps you train your upper body, core and lower body to function as one while developing better overall stability and strength.

BREAKING DOWN THE PUSHUP

Here are five keys to mastering perfect form:

1. HEAD POSITION

Keep your chin tucked gently in a double-chin position.

2. ARM PLACEMENT

Keep your arms just slightly away from your body. Shoot for having the elbows point at a 45-degree angle.

3. HIP ACTION

Squeeze your glutes tight for the duration of the exercise. Avoid letting your lower back sag or getting into an extended position.

4. CORE PURPOSE

Keep your core short or engaged. Do this by imagining you’re about to take a punch to the stomach.

5. RANGE OF MOTION

Don’t go all the way to the floor; this can cause stress on the front of your shoulders. Push your chest all the way away from the floor at the top of the pushup.


READ MORE MASTER THE MOVE

> Lunge
> Burpee


PUSHUP VARIATIONS

These exercises help you develop upper-body strength, shoulder stability and core endurance. Use these exercises as you progress to doing flat/floor pushups, which pair well with grip dominant exercises like rows or loaded carries.

INCLINE PUSHUP

By placing your hands on an elevated surface you will be able to do more repetitions with better form as you work toward building up to a classic floor pushup. Do 2–4 sets of 8–20 repetitions.

PUSHUP WITH ISO HOLD

The isometric hold gives you more time under tension in the pushup position. Adding time under tension helps you build control and improve overall form. Do 2–4 sets of 8–20 repetitions.

BAND ASSISTED PUSHUP

By applying the band assistance around your chest, you’ll be able to do more repetitions with better form as you work to improve your classic pushup form. Do 2–4 sets of 8–20 repetitions.

PUSHUP PROGRESSIONS

This is a progression from the classic pushup. These exercises target your chest, arms and core and helps you develop upper-body strength, shoulder stability and core endurance. Do 2–4 sets of 8–20 repetitions.

BAND RESISTED PUSHUP

DECLINE PUSHUP

SPIDERMAN PUSHUP

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  • David Claude Warlick

    The pushup is definitely a great exercise. I did a lot of them in the Army Airborne. Now that I’m a senior, I find the pushup very relevant. A senior has to maintain his/her balance and flexibility if the senior is to get up and down from the floor. I do 20 sets of pushups per day, doing reps until exhausted (about 12 reps/set for me). I mostly agree with the statements in Tim DiFrancesco’s article. The qualifiers are (1) Use a very soft rubberized exercise mat, as this will protect your knees whenever you get in and out of position, (2) Touch your nose to the mat at the bottom of each rep, (3) Wear shoes (I wear Crocs but anything soft and roomy would work), (4) Keep a jar of pennies, and take out a penny for each pushup, trying initially for 100 pushups per day, (5) Do the pushups in your house’s coldest location, (6) Consider adding about 300 steps to your Fitness Watch between sets (ie, don’t just stand around), (7) Try for 3,000 to 10,000 steps depending on the time length of your pushup session, (8) Keep a diary, as you will be recording more reps within a few months, and (9) If you have a blog, post a selfie every 3 months; you will see a noticeable improvement in your arms (more definition, not necessarily bigger) and waist (less fat).