Pushups are a very valuable part of keeping your upper body strong and with a little assistance you can get maximum benefit from the exercise.
Wellness by Little: Modify your pushups and get great benefit
By Mary Little
Are push ups one of your least favorite exercises to do? Push ups require a massive amount of upper body strength and power which makes them a difficult exercise to execute, especially when just starting a strength training program. Many males and females can relate to the fact that more often than not the push up gets neglected over other exercises. Despite this, push ups are a fundamental exercise to everyday life and well being. Ask yourself, if I fell would I be able to push myself back up? This is why upper body strength and having the ability to perform a push up is a critical movement.
During my teacher training with SloBody yoga formerly based in DT Seattle, we talked about why men are better at doing push ups than women. If you look at where men are the broadest/heaviest, it’s commonly the shoulders and for women it’s the hips. From a biomechanical standpoint when performing a push up the body is mimicking a second class lever system with the axis located at one end (the feet), the resistance in the middle (hips) and the force at the opposite end (hands pressing against ground). If more weight is located at the center point you can see why it would be harder to press up from a push up than if the weight was added to an end point such as the arms/chest.
So here’s the answer. Instead of neglecting push ups, modify them. The most common way is to do “girl push ups” although this method doesn’t support a full range of motion push up. A full range of motion push up is having the ability to bend the elbows to 90 degrees while keeping chest and hips parallel just like you would in plank position. Two things that you don't want to do is that roll up as if you were doing cobra position in yoga and that you aren't lowering down only 2 inches from the starting position. If you can only lower down 2 inches before feeling like gravity will take over and you’ll flop to the ground than this simple modification is for you.
Shown in the photo is a user friendly method to performing a complete push up with a little love from a resistant band. This modification allows for full engagement of the pectoral muscles, triceps, anterior deltoid, serratus anterior and the midsection as a whole. Using the resistant band takes weight off of the central point allowing a full range of motion push up, core engagement and the ability to complete push ups to fatigue which is a key factor in building muscle.
Mary Little is a wellness coach and fitness trainer whose work has included coaching and training at the Washington Athletic Club, SassyFit in South Lake Union and Microsoft.
You can LIKE her on Facebook at Wellness by Little and contact her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org