Pushups are one of the most versatile exercises a person can do. The pushup is not only simple, but extremely effective at working a lot of different muscle groups.
The pushup can be done with nothing but your own body weight, which is more than can be said for most of the exercises included in the average routine - most involve equipment, often heavy machines that you can only find at a gym, or at the very least barbells and dumbbells.
What makes the pushup so special?
The pushup is a special type of exercise for a few reasons, not the least of which is that it is extremely convenient. If you don't have time for a full workout routine, pushups can come to your aid since you can do a few sets in the morning, on your lunch break, any time of day.
Pushups are considered a functional exercise. Functional exercises are ones that affect the muscle systems and coordination skills that are used in daily life - functional exercise improve the ease with which you can move, pick things up, carry things, and your general mobility.
Pushups are also special because you don't need any equipment to perform a pushup. They rely on your body weight, which means that you can do them without having to go to the gym.
How do I do a pushup?
There are a lot of different ways to do a pushup! Many varieties have been developed by people of various intentions, and all of these variations affect different muscle groups. Pretty much every pushup is great for your whole body, but some are good to learn if you want to work out specific areas.
We'll get more into some detailed descriptions of various pushups later in the article, but for now,you probably want to know how to do a regular pushup before you read the rest of the article.
First, put your hands beneath your shoulders. Typically a pushup is done with your palms flat on the floor, though this isn’t really the best method. For beginners, though, it’s okay to learn this way.
Extend your legs straight behind you so the balls of your feet touch the ground.
Flexing your abdominals and your posterior, lower your body until your chest touches the floor. Make sure your body is kept straight.
Maintaining your straightness, push yourself back up from the floor into your original position.
What are the health benefits of doing pushups?
There are many benefits to doing pushups, and these range from internal improvements - like the functioning of your organs - to external, like your improved physique, to even mental - there's a very significant mental aspect to doing any kind of exercise, particularly body weight exercises.
Pushups increase your functional strength
Pushups activate your entire body, which is one of the reason they're considered a functional exercise. Despite the fact that the burn many people feel when they're doing pushups is centered in their arms and pecs, the pushup works out a whole lot more muscles than just those two areas.
Every major muscle group in your body takes a part in doing a pushup - in fact, it's often considered to be the best exercise for someone who wants to exercise a lot of different areas at once without resorting to using a half dozen different techniques.
Biceps are used during pushups, and are where a lot of people feel the burn of growing muscles.
Your triceps feel a lot of the burn too, and you can see them working when someone's doing a pushup.
Your core is activated to a great extent during a pushup, and they are considered fantastic exercises for building core strength.
All these groups work together to help stabilize and balance your body during a pushup. The amount of muscles involved makes the pushup classify as a compound exercise; the fact that so many groups are called upon means that you're working a lot of different areas together.
This allows for a greater understanding of how your different muscle groups work together, and allows you to improve your general mobility. Your balance will improve. Your functional strength will improve, which means that anything you use muscles to perform will become easier.
Conclusion: Pushups are a great functional exercise that activate almost every group of muscles in your body. This makes them appealing for an immense variety of reasons and workout routines.
2. Pushups provide a great stretch for your muscles
Pushups are underrated for their ability to help you stretch various muscle groups, particularly those of your biceps and back. It’s important to stretch before a workout as well, but people don’t pay as much attention to the actual stretching that is done during the workout.
Pushups and other bodyweight exercises are among the best sorts of exercises for effectively stretching your body.
During the downward motion, your back muscles are stretched - these particular muscles get knotted and stressed out very easily during daily life. In fact, you probably have knots in your back right now! The back bears the burden of a lot of stress by growing taut and tense, which is why you can tell if someone’s been stressed out by feeling their back
Pushing yourself upwards allows your biceps to obtain a full stretch. Stretching the back and biceps isn't the most commonly taught thing in exercise classes, so the fact that pushups can stretch these two muscles makes them extra useful.
Having your muscles properly stretched is important for a few reasons.
First off, they help you avoid injuries - pulled muscles are a lot less likely to occur if you stretch regularly.
Stretching is key for a person’s flexibility. Without stretched muscles, you’ll have a limited range of motion and won’t be able to perform as well as you could with fully stretched muscles and ligaments.
Stretching, combined with proper breathing, enhances blood flow throughout the body. A healthy blood flow is vital for a whole bunch of different things, which we discuss in detail in a moment.
On top of that, people who are doing pushups for purposes of improving their aesthetic will find that well-stretched muscles provide a more toned appearance. They look solid, and give off a more attractive appearance. A well-stretched individual will also move with more fluidity, and the result is a nimbleness that is attractive
Conclusion: Pushups are a good way to improve your flexibility because they stretch out many of the muscles that are used during the motion. Having your muscles stretched is very important for flexibility, mobility and endurance.
3. Pushups enhance your cardiovascular system
Pushups are considered a compound exercise. Compound exercises are very versatile because they activate many different muscle groups, joints and connecting tissues. Engaging large amounts of different muscle groups means that your heart has to exert more energy in order to provide oxygen to all these muscles.
This process means that your cardiovascular system is working harder, which allows it to grow strong and become more efficient at providing blood and oxygen to the organs in your body. The more often your heart has to do extra work to pump these vitals throughout your body, the better it becomes at doing it - the heart is a muscle, too.
An improved cardiovascular system means a lot of good things.
You lower the chance of developing heart related diseases, like having strokes or heart attacks, or developing atherosclerosis, the hardening of the arteries.
Your body will become better able to eliminate cholesterol from the bloodstream.
You will be easier able to eliminate excess body fat.
Your intelligence will improve because your brain will be able to receive more oxygen and thus communicate better with the parts of your body.
Your digestion will improve because the components of your gastrointestinal tract will better be able to function.
There are lots of different ways to improve your cardiovascular strength, such as eating healthy foods containing lots of omega-3 fats. However, developing a strong body with a good ratio of muscle and regularly exercising to raise your heartbeat is most certainly the best way to do this.
Conclusion: Pushups are a very effective exercise for boosting the body’s cardiovascular system because the exercise activates so many different sets of muscles. This causes an increased need for oxygen, so the body compensates by improving blood circulation to meet this need. Improved circulation brings many benefits to human health.
4. You will improve your whole body's aesthetic
People who want to gain muscle tone and develop a perfect beach body by doing pushups are in luck - the exercise is well-known for its ability to improve tonality and appearance for lots of different muscle groups.
Despite seeming arm centric, the pushup works your core (including your abs) your back, your shoulders, and even your legs. Toning all of these muscles means that you will have a completely fit, strong-looking body.
Pushups are actually one of the single most potent exercises in terms of how many different muscle groups they exercise. Not only do they affect almost every muscle in your body, but they significantly benefit several groups of core muscles. Your core muscles include
The muscles in your abdomen, which are used to help keep your body stabilized and help you manage your center of gravity. Without a strong abdomen, you might notice difficulties in balance and coordination when carrying weight.
The muscles in your back, which are hugely responsible for your lifting capacity. Developing these muscles is very important and can prevent you from developing injuries later down the line - the back is often the first part of the human body to ‘go.’ You’ve heard countless people complaining of a sore back - it’s quite easy to pull a muscle here, even through simple movement. Fortunately, strengthening your back from an early age can help prevent these injuries.
Your shoulders are hugely impacted by pushups and help with lifting and stability.
Aside from that, pushups stimulate the production of HGH - human growth hormone. This is because that, during periods of extreme exercise (like during strength training) the body produces more HGH in preparation for rebuilding muscles.
This hormone is particularly produced during the younger years of a person's life, and declines into older age. This makes building muscle more and more difficult, which is why it’s an appealing idea to stimulate the production of this hormone. People do steroids for essentially the same reason - an enhanced ability for your body to produce and rebuild muscle tissue.
Adding push ups into a regular strength training routine will be even better because the HGH stimulation will follow through to the other exercises that you're doing.
Conclusion: Pushups are a great tactic for building strength in your core, for building and improving muscles, and more interestingly, for releasing the human growth hormone. This means that pushups don’t just carry their own set of benefits, but enhance your ability to grow stronger from any other exercises you may be doing.
5. Push ups prevent shoulder injuries
Shoulder injuries are quite common, particularly among people who do strength training often or play sports. Jumping into any type of exercise, particularly those that involve heavy lifting, is a good way for someone to injure themselves.
One of the most common injuries is a rotator cuff injury, which can be anywhere from mild to very severe. It's important to protect the rotator cuff, which is located in the shoulder.
Pushups are good for protecting this area because they safeguard your shoulder joints - particularly in middle aged folk. Pushups rely heavily on stabilizer muscles, some of which surround the rotator cuff joint.
Stabilizer muscles allow you to improve your mobility and flexibility. These muscles are often overlooked in typical workout routines - people tend to just work with muscles that are directly responsible for strength, ability, and tone.
Improving the strength and stability of the muscles around your shoulders decrease the the chances of you developing injuries not just in your shoulders, too. Since your shoulders are used for lifting, a weak or unstable shoulder could lead to you dropping something and being injured because of that.
Conclusion: Pushups are a good exercise for your shoulders - not just because they help build muscle mass and function in your shoulders, but because they work a set of stabilizer muscles that can protect the shoulder. These muscles are often undertrained and can easily cause injury to the shoulders if they are strained.
6. Pushups can improve your posture
Posture is extremely important for a number of reasons, and it's also extremely undervalued as a mandatory factor in everyone’s daily activities. Here’s some of the most significant reasons:
Your posture displays confidence; having a proper posture will assure people that you're self-confident and know what you're doing.
A bad posture can lead to a whole lot of unpleasant conditions later down the line. Your spine can fall out of alignment, your organs can lose function from being displaced.
A healthy stance is indicative that your body’s arranged in the right way, which is sort of a prerequisite that must be filled before hoping t o do anything physical.
Posture can be damaged by sitting at a computer all day, by injuries, or just by the fact that most people aren't trained how to stand properly. Bad posture is very commonplace these days, largely in part because of the sedentary lifestyle that most people are bred to live. It’s not typical for people to work on their core strength and posture, and the average person’s posture is proof of this.
Pushups improve your posture because they are such an effective exercise for improving your core muscles - a proper pushup engages more of the muscles that are responsible for core strength than almost any other single exercise you can do.
As you improve the strength of your core you'll find that you naturally lean towards proper posture - even if you weren't taught how to stand properly. A healthy core muscle set helps the body grow into a stance that's much healthier for daily life - as the muscles gain strength and tone, they begin to align themselves into a healthy position. The end result is you developing a taller, stronger stance.
Conclusion: Posture is extremely important! It affects the way you walk, the way you move, and even how your presence is perceived by other people. Fortunately, pushups are a very simple way to significantly improve your posture. They work all the muscles that are related to your posture, and strengthening these muscles naturally improves your posture - whether or not you’re making a conscious attempt.
7. Push ups can prevent lower back injuries
Back injuries are among the most debilitating that a person can face. Your back is a pretty crucial part in almost every movement you make during the day, so naturally, an injured back greatly hinders your daily life.
Since pushups are great at stabilizing your body and working out your core muscles, you strengthen a large portion of your back. Back muscles are a huge part of your core strength and your stability.
If you strengthen these muscles, you'll develop an affinity for lowering pressure on your back. This means that you'll be able to better prevent injuries that could be caused by a weak back or an unstretched set of back muscles.
Conclusion: Back injuries suck, and unfortunately, they’re a lot more common than some other types of injuries. Fortunately pushups work out some of the muscles that can help prevent back injuries.
8. Push ups allow you to save time and money for other health benefits
Surveys have proven that a lot of the reason people don't exercise is (or so they say) because of a lack of time. People lead busy lives with work and school and families, and often find it difficult to get enough time to go to the gym or organize an entire workout routine to fit into their daily schedule.
A lot of people make their daily commute to or from work a form of exercise. Some opt to walk instead of drive, some jog to give themselves a bit of an aerobic kick, but what if somebody wants make some serious gains to the strength of their core and tone the muscles in their upper body? A jog to and from work isn't going to help much.
Fortunately, pushups are readily available, and can be done without the need for a complete exercise routine. A few sets of pushups a day is enough to see not only muscle gains, but a significant improvement to your daily performance.
Nobody can be too busy to add push ups to their daily routine . You can drop to the ground and do a set of 20 in a minute - this means you have time to do them before work, while you’re getting ready. You could do them while waiting for the bus. You can even do them during a bathroom break at work.
One cool thing about push ups is that you can split your workout throughout the day. While those hoping to see physical growth of muscles should probably do sets of fewer, harder push ups and keep this to a single session, those who seek to improve general core strength and endurance don’t need to lump their workouts together.
Conclusion: Pushups are a perfect exercise for the time-strapped individual. They can be done almost anywhere and take no preparation, no equipment, and very little time. If you’re a busy bee and don’t have time to go to the gym between work or school, just add some pushups into your daily routine - we can guarantee you’ll have time.
9. Push ups increase testosterone production
As men and women age, their ability to produce different hormones begins to decrease. The most debilitating decrease for men is the loss of their ability to produce as much testosterone, which is a hormone required for general feats of 'manliness,' including strength, endurance, and libido.
A motion of exercise that stimulates as many muscles as a push up also tends to increase the production of testosterone. This benefit creates a positive cycle - more testosterone allow for the expenditure of more energy and thus the ability to work out for longer and harder, which in turn creates more testosterone.
Pushups are also good for men who have naturally low levels of testosterone. For these men, full body workouts are a very healthy way to help restore their testosterone levels to a natural balance.
Conclusion: Anyone who’s worried about their testosterone production levels might want to consider doing a bunch of pushups, since the exercise has been shown to improve the production of testosterone. This means that pushups make you more ‘manly,’ and also more willing to exercise more.
10. Pushups can give you a quick energy boost
If you’re feeling tired, pushups can be a great way to give yourself a quick jolt of energy.
Next time your eyelids start closing while you’re at work, hit the ground and do a set of as many pushups as you can, as quickly as you can (and ignore the looks you might get from your coworkers.) This will jumpstart your heartbeat and thus your circulation, causing a flood of fresh blood and oxygen to energize your entire body.
This will turbocharge not just your body but your brain as well, which can help restore your thinking power during the middle of the day.
Additionally, short, intense bursts of exercise like this cause your body to generate a lot of heat. This is very useful in a lot of situations - if you have to walk to work in winter, or even scrape the frost off your windshields, and you dread those minutes of cold before your body’s had time to adjust and warm up from walking? Do a set of pushups before you walk outside and you’ll find the temperature much easier to deal with.
Conclusion: Pushups are a great way to kick yourself into third gear in the middle of the day. They can be done quickly, intensely, and can re-start your body and brain by booting up your circulation and your thinking process. If you’re getting lazy, you should try dropping to the ground and doing a set of pushups before taking a nap - they just might be enough to wake you up.
11. Pushups increase your metabolism
Pushups, as we’ve mentioned, are able to work a bunch of different muscles at the same time.
Since this makes the heart work harder than it would if you were just working single muscles, the need for calories is increased. This improves the metabolic rate of your body which is great for people who are hoping to lose weight.
This makes pushups ideal for several different types of workouts.
People who want to lose weight will find pushups great because they build muscle as well as helping to put a dent in the excess fat by increasing your metabolism
People who want to gain muscle but don’t have a fast metabolism will be able to eat more food this way. Eating a lot of protein rich food, as well as vegetables and other whole foods, is a great way for you to bolster your workout. As long as you’re not eating garbage food, there’s really no reason for you not to eat tons of food everyday - as long as you’re working out, you won't really have to worry about counting calories.
People hoping to improve their general fitness are bound to find pushups useful; the improvement to their metabolism and circulation being invaluable assets to endurance training.
The faster your metabolism, the faster your body is able to make use out of the food you consume. This can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on your goals and the type of food available to you.
If you’re broke and can hardly afford food, having a quick metabolism isn’t great because it means you’ll be hungry all the time. People with quick metabolisms can eat a full meal and find themselves really hungry a couple hours later.
However, this also opens up opportunities for effective weight gains - if you have a quick metabolism, you’re able to eat almost constantly. This means that you have more opportunity to eat protein as well as consume foods with vitamins and minerals that improve the strength and function of your muscles and body.
Conclusion: Those hoping to lose weight shouldn’t exclusively rely on pushups as their form of weight-loss exercise. However, they can be assured that the pushup increases their metabolic rate, which will make it easier for the exerciser to lose weight with other activities.
Precautions to take when doing pushups
Like any exercise, the pushup contains potential danger. Fortunately these dangers aren’t as obvious or risky as some workouts that involve heavy machinery - but, it’s still a good idea to watch out for certain things.
First off, make sure you don’t dive right into a pushup routine that’s way too intense for your body to handle. If you haven’t been exercising, you’re probably not ready to push yourself straight to your body’s limit and attempt doing clap pushups until you collapse.
Just like someone who’s decided to lose weight shouldn’t attempt going for a five mile run after spending the last two years of their life on a couch, someone who wants to begin building muscle shouldn’t strap weights to their chest and try doing sets of 30 pushups. Ease yourself into it.
Beginners can do a modified pushup that’s a lot less strenuous by using your knees to support yourself instead of your toes. This takes a tremendous amount of weight off the exercise, making it much easier.
You can do this modified form of push up until you’re strong enough or comfortable enough to do regular ones.
The possibility of injuries is still present even if you ease yourself into the workout.
You can hurt your wrists by doing pushups with your palms facing the floor, which is this standard taught for the pushup. A safer alternative is to use a dumbbell in each hand and do your pushups off of that.
If you’re using dumbbells, don’t lower your body all the way to the floor or you’ll just hurt yourself anyways. Instead, lower it to the height of the top of the dumbbell.
You can hurt your spine if your body’s not properly aligned. You want your body to look like a straight line from head to toe, and keep your back as straight as possible. It’s very helpful to have a third party let you know how your posture is, because it’s pretty hard to tell by yourself.
Any prior injuries or weakness should be addressed prior to starting a new exercise regime. Consult your doctor about the type of workout you plan to do and let him know if you have any prior injuries.
If you hear any abnormal clicking sounds (aside from regular joints cracking, which isn’t strange as long as it only happens once or twice) particularly in your shoulder or neck regions, stop the exercise.
If you feel pain, stop doing pushups. If the pain persists, see a doctor.
Keep your abdominals flexed when you’re doing pushups. This helps to keep your spine aligned and promotes your balance, as well as limiting the chance of injuring your back.
Keep your back straight, straight, straight! Not doing so can do lasting damage.
Some things should always be considered when doing pushups to ensure that you don’t hurt yourself!
Picking is the term used for when you raise your posterior too high, turning your body into a pike shape. This is usually done because it takes pressure off the core and can seem appealing. Unfortunately, it puts more pressure on your shoulders.
Make sure you keep your stomach tight and flat during the whole exercise. If you neglect this aspect, you risk injuring your lower back, as well as making the pushup more difficult.
Not going all the way!
A lot of people don’t touch the ground when they do their pushups. If you want to see the best gains, make sure you follow the whole motion!
Pushup variations for you to try
There are a lot of different push up variations out there, and each one suits a different need.
While every pushup is going to be a great exercise for your core, it’s a good idea to switch up the variety of pushups you’re doing. Exercising the same muscles every day will strain them more than it will help them grow, and you won’t see as much improvement as you will if you’re able to switch up the exercises that you do.
These are probably the easiest pushups you can do. This pushup is for beginners who aren’t able to do pushups on their own, or for those who are physically disabled and who want to begin at an easier stage.
Put your hands on an elevated surface - a bench or a hard chair works good, anything that’s not soft and cushy. Put your legs straight out behind you like you would in standard pushup position, then lower your chest to the surface and push yourself back into the original position.
Your range of motion is much shorter in this exercise, which makes it a lot easier.
2. Decline pushup
I’m sure you can guess that this is the opposite of the incline pushup.
Instead of putting your hands on the elevated surface, put your feet there. Have them extended straight out like you would for a regular push up, and put your hands on the ground or on dumbbells at shoulder width.
Make sure you keep your abs flexed and your body held straight. Bring your chest down to the ground, then push back into the original position.
The extended range of motion and the angle make this pushup an intense workout.
3. Clap pushup
Clap pushups often bring up memories of macho guys trying to show off. They’re no easy achievement.
Start in a regular pushup position and lower yourself. Once your chest touches the ground, push up with as much force as you can so that you’re able to lift your hands off the ground once you’re at the top of your pushup position.
Using your momentum, lift your hands off the ground and clap. Quickly. Let your hands land back under your shoulders and repeat. These pushups can cause a lot of stress in the shoulders if they aren’t executed perfectly, so try to have a spotter who can inform you if your posture is off.
4. Wide-arm pushups
Start with your hands a bti wider than they would be for a normal pushup. As usual, legs are kept straight back.
Bring yourself down until your chest touches the ground. You’ll notice this variety of pushup works out your pecs a lot more, when compared to the strain a regular pushup puts on your triceps.
Return to the original position and continue.
5. Diamond pushup
This is a push up that works your triceps even more than the regular variety.
Put your hands in a triangle beneath your chest - your pointer fingers should be touching each other and your thumbs should be touching each other to form the shape.
Have your feet behind you, spread a bit from each other in order to help you maintain your balance. Flexing your abs and keeping your body straight, lower yourself until your chest touches the triangle you’ve formed with your fingers.
Push away and repeat as many reps as you feel fit.
The pushup is one of the best exercises around, hands-down (pun not intended.)
It works out a massive amount of muscles, has lasting benefits that can help you throughout your life, and even improve the efficiency of other exercises you do.
Best of all, they can be done anywhere at any time, without the need for equipment. If you’re not already doing pushups as part of your exercise routine, there’s no better time to start.