The Power of the Pushup

Do you ever see a woman in the gym just cranking out “guy-pushups” and think that is great for her, but I could never have the strength? Not so at all. As a trainer I often try to incorporate the pushup in as many workouts for my clients as I can. I am a big believer in the results they can give a woman. As we know women typically lack upper body strength, and the pushup (although intimidating to some) is one of the best upper body exercises out there.

I love this exercise b/c your shoulders, triceps and chest all get working in this move. There are 3 common ways for women to do pushups:

1: Wall push-ups – This is good for beginners or those with knee or back problems -facing the wall, stand a couple feet away and place your hands at chest height and a little wider than shoulder width. Push against the wall until your shoulders are level with your elbows and press back up again.

2: Knee push-ups – the next level of pushup – With knees on floor and hands a little wider than shoulder width, press down again until shoulders are in line with elbows and press back up.

3. Toe pushups – Congratulations if you are at this level! You have arrived! Proper form is still key, so make sure you core is tight to protect your back, hands wider than shoulders and push down just until the shoulders are in line with the elbows just like the other pushups. Great job!

As you learn to crank out those pushups don’t forget to balance out your muscles and work your back. Lat pull downs and rows are great exercises.We’ll focus on the back in a later post :).

As you progress eventually you will grow tired of doing regular push-ups all the time – yes you will get there :)SO once you are ready, try some decline push-ups (feet on box or bench).  You will really feel the difference fast trust me.

So I know it seems hard but you’ll never get there if you don’t try! Start with even just one push-up on your toes and work up to two the next workout. Adding on as you progress, and you will amaze yourself. So much of your progression in fitness is mental. If you tell yourself you are not strong – your body will believe it. You are strong,so go do some push-ups!!!!

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4 thoughts on “The Power of the Pushup

  1. Great post. Do you have tips for how to get me to an unassisted pull up? That has been a goal of mine for quite a while and I just can’t get there.

    • Great goal! That is an advanced exercise which you can certainly work up to. Pull-ups require strong back muscles- specifically the lats (latissimus dorsi) which run along your ribs cage in your back basically. So first you need to strengthen them. Here are some exercise that will do that:

      At the gym : (1) lat pulldown machine – you can use a wide grip with an overhand grip for the upper lats and a more narrow close reverse (underhand) grip for the lower lats
      (2) lat pulldown with cables – take one cable in each hand and cross your arms. Slowly pull back. This gives you a full range of motion for your lats
      (3) If your gym has a sturdy low bar about 4′-5′ above the ground you can practice on that allowing you to pull up some of your body weight

      At home: (1) Dumbell row – if you have weights at home, stand with feet shoulder width apart. You should be lightly bent forward, back straight though. Slowly pull the weights back and almost grazing your elbows against your sides. Engage the lats the whole time.
      (2) Lying on your back with knees bent and holding a dumbell or a medicine ball above you, slowly bring it back over your head and then slowly bring it back to chest level. For extra range of motion you can do this on a bench.

      Once you have strengthened the lats, go try a pull-up! If you are still not quite there, put a box under the bat and use your legs to jump you up to the bar for momentum. Throughout all of these exercises make sure you are focusing o the lats and holding the contraction throughout the whole exercise.

      Strengthen that back and you will be cranking out the pull-ups in no time – Hang in there (no pun intended) ha ha

    • Thanks! What you are referring to are actually tricep pushups. It is the same as a pushup only your hands are directly under your shoulders in this exercise. This is an awesome tricep workout! I use these a lot in my workouts. So unless you are feeling sharp pain in your elbows these are safe. If you are experiencing pain try them on your knees or against the wall to take some of the pressure off. Balancing this exercise with other tricep exercises (dips, tricep extensions, etc..) is also a good idea.

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