Trying to tone your body but having a hard time finding quick and effective exercises that give great results in a short time span? Enter the pushup! This tried and true maneuver can be done anywhere – even on the floor of your office or the foot of your bed. And the great news is that once you learn how to execute the perfect pushup, this move works your entire body – extremely well.
If you’re used to doing pushups, there’s actually a good chance you’re doing them wrong! And that’s because many people actually have no idea what proper pushup form looks like. But once you understand how to do a correct pushup, you’ll be unstoppable!
When you’ve mastered perfect pushup form, you can work your entire body in just 5-10 minutes a day – increasing your overall strength. Let’s go over why the pushup is one of the best exercises and how it can help you take your workouts up a notch!
Benefits of a Perfect Pushups
Works it All
A standard pushup exercise works every single muscle in your body. And you can also do variations of the pushup to work some muscles more than others. Some of the major muscle groups you use in different kinds of pushups include your chest, biceps, shoulders, abdominals (core muscles), triceps, back and lower body muscles.
Helps Improve Your Posture
Many of us spend long days at an office sitting in front of a computer. But whether you’re mainly sitting during your 9 to 5, chasing around your kids or doing something else, many of us could use help with our posture. One of the most common reasons for bad posture is weak core muscles. But as you continue to do correct pushups, you strengthen the muscles that support better posture. The more pushups you do, the more you’ll start to improve your posture, naturally.
Helps Prevent Lower Back Injuries
Lower back injuries are common, but when you do pushups, you stabilize your entire torso (including your chest, abdominals and back). By strengthening this part of your body, you help protect it from injury. And by building up muscles in the lower back, you also help alleviate pressure in that area – necessary to prevent and treat low back pain.
Supports Heart Health
Rarely do we think about the potential health effects of certain fitness exercises, but everything in our body is connected. And since performing pushups uses major muscle groups, it actually gives the heart some exercise too. Your heart ends up needing to work harder to deliver oxygen-rich blood to muscle tissue – an activity that supports overall heart health while promoting less stored body fat.
What’s The Best Way To Do Pushups?
Going back to perfect pushup form, it’s so important in order to experience peak results from the exercise. And adjusting the way you do them isn’t impossible – it just takes a little time to learn.
The best thing you can do is practice, practice, practice in order to become more comfortable doing this activity “the right way”.
6 Tips for The Best Pushup Workout
Tighten Your Core
Did you know that a perfect pushup is one of the best core-strengthening exercises out there?! But only if you do it right! The key is to keep your core tightened the entire time – literally, the entire time. A great thing to do is squeeze your core like you’re bracing to get punched in the stomach. Doing this for the whole exercise helps reduce the risk of injury by engaging your core and encouraging a neutral spine.
Squeeze Your Glutes
Squeezing the muscles in your behind is probably not something you would think to do during a pushup! However, since many of us sit for much of the day, these muscles can become pretty inactive. Want to firm up your booty?! Your glutes are one of the biggest muscle groups in your body, and they need to be worked! By squeezing your glute muscles during your pushup workout, you provide full body tension. This helps maintain a neutral spine, protects your lower back and improves posture.
Stack & Tuck Your Elbows
Despite what you’ve learned in the past, there’s no need for your elbows to flail out like wings while you’re doing a pushup. Many people have the tendency to put their elbows out wide during their pushups – which is dangerous and could lead to potential shoulder and rotator cuff problems.
To do a correct pushup, start by placing your hands on the ground shoulder length apart. When you push yourself up, your shoulders, elbows and wrists should be “stacked” in a straight line. When you come down, your elbows should fall back in a straight line (also close to your body). Envision a piece of string touching the entire outside of your arm while you’re doing the pushup. You don’t want your elbows to pass that imaginary string, a visual that can help you grasp the perfect pushup form.
Keep Your Neck in “Neutral”
It’s very tempting when you’re doing a pushup workout to tuck your chin under or look up, but this can actually be harmful to your neck and back. Instead, keep your neck in “neutral”. The best way to do this? Focus on keeping your body in a straight line as well. If there were an object on your back, like a broom, you would want it to touch your neck, spine and the back of your feet all at once.
It’s important to remember to breathe during any exercise you do, but there’s also a way to do it that maximizes your effort for the best results. Though you may need to specifically focus on your breaths in and out at first, eventually it will become much more intuitive and effortless. To start, focus on breathing in as you lower yourself to the ground, and exhaling as you rise up. Make sure your breaths are nice and deep, and do this continually until the exercise is done.
To get more out of your pushup, focus on pushing the floor away from you as you move. Typically, we think about pushing ourselves off the ground, but this little switch in concept helps you use more muscles, working more of your body in a bracing effect.
Advice on Re-Learning How to Do Perfect Pushups
After reading this article, if you attempt to perform a perfect pushup for the first time and think “Oh my gosh, I can’t do this!”, don’t worry! It’s very common when you’re doing pushups incorrectly to think you can do dozens of them, only to find you struggle just to do 1 or 2 correctly!
Likely, you will need time to work on your pushup form, so make it easier for yourself in the meantime. The best way to do this is to start doing perfect pushups on an elevated surface, such as a workout bench. As you get better, lower the bench more and more, until you’re back on the floor.
Once back on the floor, you can maintain the same pushup form, except put your knees on the ground and cross your ankles. Remember to keep the rest of the tips above in place for the entire pushup exercise. And finally when you’re ready, you can go back to full pushups.
Push Your Way to Toned & Healthy!
And that’s it! If you make a commitment to do pushups daily, squeezing them in whenever you have time, you’ll be taking the first step to a stronger, more toned figure. And remember that exercise is also an important part of full body health, and it doesn’t have to take hours every day – just try to move as much as possible! Pushups are a great way to tone your whole body in a short amount of time, no equipment needed.
What are your favorite variations of the standard pushup and why? Let us know, below!