The Power of Push-Ups

“It’s too cold, I get bored, I’m so out of shape,” or, my personal favorite, “I’d rather eat this slice of pizza.” These are all too familiar push-ups childutterances between my friends and I. Excuses of why-not to workout come in all shapes, sizes and extremes. Believe me, this winter, I have attempted to validate my sedentary lifestyle in order to avoid the hardships of physical exertion in the most creative and far-fetched of ways. As the cold winter weather looms over Chicago, I try to remind myself that sometimes, even the most basic of exercises can lead to big results. One such exercise is the infamous push-up. Push-ups vary in types and levels of complexity to those who complete them. They are an extremely advantageous exercise for adults and children alike.

Below is an outline of some of the most basic of push-ups:

  • Knee Push-Ups: Begin by kneeling on the floor. Walk your hands out in front of your body so that they are palms down, directly below your shoulders and supporting your upper body. Lower your hips so that your entire body forms one straight line, perpendicular to the floor, from the crown of your head to the backside of your knees. Keep your knees on the floor. From here, bend at your elbows to lower your body so that your stomach is almost touching the floor.
  • Traditional Toe Push-Ups: Complete the steps above. Once in the Knee Push-Up position, extend your knees so they are lifted above the floor by walking your hands even further in front of you. Again, your body should be one straight line from the crown of your head to your heels, with your toes and the palms of your hand being the only parts of your body that are touching the floor. From here, bend at your elbows to lower your body so that your stomach is almost touching the floor.
  • Pilates Push-Ups: Position your body in the same way as you did to complete the toe push-ups. This time, instead of bending your arms outwards while lowering your body, try to keep your elbows as close to your sides as you can, bending them towards your feet rather that out to the side. This movement pattern will exercise a different muscle group in your arms.
  • Exercise Ball Push-Ups: This is exactly the same as the Traditional Push-Up, except the top of your feet and ankles should be balanced on a medium sized exercise ball. Maintaining your balance on the exercise ball while completing this exercise will add an increased challenge for your abdominal muscles.

The muscle groups that are exercised while completing any of these push-ups could include biceps, triceps, shoulder stabilizers, wrist stabilizers and the extensor musculature of your neck and back, as well as your core muscles. These exercises also provide deep proprioceptive input to your muscles and joints. This input can be very regulating for children and adults alike! Incorporating push-ups into your day-to-day life does not need to be time consuming.

Start with 3-5 rounds of 10 push-ups each day right after you brush your teeth. The exercise should not take you more than 15 minutes to complete. You don’t need a lot of room, therefore, there is no excuse to skip a workout!  By completing your routine in the morning, you will also be done with your work-out for the day before it even starts. There will probably not be the temptation of a steaming box of an extra-cheese pizza on the kitchen table neither. Good Luck!