The Push Up is a polyarticular bodyweight exercise involving the shoulders, elbows, and wrists. It, therefore, requires numerous muscles, mainly the pectoral muscles, the triceps and the shoulders (deltoid part). It is, therefore, a very interesting exercise which has the advantage of being practiced without equipment and anywhere. There is a wide variety of pumps to vary the difficulty and the muscles used. Some of its variants make the pumps very accessible to beginners. Some bodybuilding practitioners wishing to develop their muscle mass think that this exercise is limited. But by applying the many variations of Push Up, you can achieve more harmonious muscles than a person lifting weights in the gym.
How To Make Push Up
I will explain here how to make a “classic” Push Up. You will find the variants below on this page. There are many dos and don’ts. Although a bodyweight exercise, an injury can happen very quickly. The most important thing is to keep your back straight throughout the exercise. If you get into bad habits early on, you will quickly have joint pain and injuries. The steps to follow are:
- The starting position: Resting face down on the palms of the hands (arms outstretched) and toes. Hands are shoulder-width apart, thumbs inward and other fingers forward. The feet can be joined or slightly apart. The larger the gap, the more stable and balanced you are. At this point, your body should be perfectly aligned! The back straight and the abdominals sheathed. You absolutely must maintain this alignment and sheathing throughout the workshop series. If you can’t, stop immediately, take your rest time, and start shorter runs.
- Descent phase: you must flex your arms keeping your elbows close to your body while maintaining your alignment. You stop your descent before your chest hits the ground. Only your hands and feet should be in contact with the ground. Your arms then form a right angle (or slightly acute). During this movement, you inspire.
- Ascent phase: You must return to the starting position. To do this, you must push on your arms while keeping the abdominal contraction and the body aligned. It is during this phase that you exhale.
You now know how to make a classic push up. It is a movement that requires a minimum of strength and physical condition. Not everyone is able to achieve a series of 10 Push Up at the start. Until I reach the right level, I’m going to show you simpler variations of Push Up. This will allow you to assimilate the movement while progressing.
As I tell you in the introduction, the pectorals, triceps, and shoulders are the main muscles working when performing a Push Up. But this very complete exercise has the advantage of also involving the muscle of the jagged muscle, the abdominals, and the thighs to maintain The Plank.
Depending on the different Push Up variants, the main muscles will work at different levels of intensity:
- If you want to accentuate the work on the shoulders, it is interesting to raise your feet in order to have more weight on your upper body. However, avoid repeating this exercise too often. The shoulder muscles are divided into three fairly small bundles. Bodyweight is important and can traumatize the shoulders and cause injuries. It is important to build your shoulders with a variety of work to stimulate the three beams in a balanced way.
- If these are the triceps that you want to develop, then it is interesting to practice different Push Up exercises with a rather small hand gap and elbows along the body. This has the effect of further straining the triceps at the expense of the pectoral muscles. Again, this is a small muscle group made up of 3 portions. In order to work harmoniously, it is important to vary the exercises with dips (which work all the portions) for example or indoor work with pulley and dumbbells (which allow you to target specific portions).
- And for the pectorals, on the contrary, you should rather spread your arms at shoulder width and beyond. But in reality, it is far from being that simple. Unlike the shoulders and triceps, the pectoral muscles are part of a large muscle group. The three muscles composing it are the large pectoral itself composed of three bundles covering the other two muscles: the small pectoral and the subclavier. The pectoralis major is a fairly large muscle, the different variations of Push Up solicit it in different ways. Regarding the spreading of the arms: by tightening the hands, you work more inside the pectorals. Conversely, by spreading the arms, it is the outside that works the most. And then for the inclination of the body: by having your feet raised, you have more weight on your upper body and therefore more work on your upper chest. Conversely, having the bust high, the bottom will be the most requested. Again, it’s important to try to maintain some balance to optimize progression and prevent injury.
It is also possible to work more muscles now The Plank. For this, modification or deletion of supports is recommended. But this does not replace targeted work on these muscles.
The classic Push Up is a particularly complete exercise that allows you to work all the muscles in a balanced and harmonious way. So always maintain a series of classic Push Up in your training.
6 Common Mistakes To Avoid
- Do not lower your head as if you were going to put your forehead between your 2 hands. Look at the ground about 1 meter in front of you, to keep your head in line with your body.
- Don’t arch your back: you shouldn’t start hitting the ground with your hips or knees. The body is in one line and you hit the ground with your chin, chest, and hips simultaneously.
- Do not spread your elbows outwards, which causes your shoulders to go up and creates tension. The elbows should stay close to the body at an angle of less than 45 °.
- Do not leave or return the buttocks: the whole body must be well aligned and straight, remember to cheer the abs and buttocks. If you take the butt out, your waist is too small to lock the body.
- Do not do the movement completely: many people do push ups, that is to say, that they bend their arms a little and do not go up, the amplitude is only a few centimeters. You must touch the ground in the low position and extend your arms in a high position. Otherwise, you’re not working to the fullest extent possible.
- Do not gait the whole body: you have to think that the Push Up does not work only the pectoral and the arms, gait your abs, your buttocks, and your legs and keep the body in The Plank position.
- Inhale during the descent.
- Exhale during the ascent.
In order to better maintain your spine, block your breathing: inhale in the high position and during the descent and exhale at the end of the ascent.
When you do a push up, you should know that you are lifting about 50% to 60% of your mass. For example, if you weigh 70kg, you lift between 35kg and 42kg. The methods that I present to you mainly play on the inclination and the supports, in order to limit this load.
1- Bust and raised hands (inclined Push Up): the first solution is to support yourself with your hands on any object (furniture if you are at home) keeping your feet on the ground. The higher the support, the easier the movement. Do not stand vertically either, it would be useless. Start with an object arriving below the chest seems to be judicious.
- Decreasing the Incline: The first way to vary this exercise is to decrease the incline. As you progress, gradually get closer to the ground by taking support objects lower and lower. An object reaching you at the navel, then at the hips …
- Possibility to vary the arm spacings: In parallel with the change in inclination, you can also vary the arm spacing. You can either bring them together to work more deeply on your triceps. Either, spread your arms wider than your shoulders to solicit more outside of the pectorals.
2- Push Up on the knees: Once you are familiar with the Push Up of the first exercise, I invite you to do your Push Up on the floor. Before starting with classic push ups taking support on the feet, take support on your knees. Make sure to put your knees far behind so that your body is straight and aligned. From there, you can make push ups with the same variations as for inclined push ups.
Once you have successfully completed your series in incline and on the knees, you can gradually switch to the classic Push Up. And when the classic push ups are mastered, you can attack advanced pumping techniques.