Why are push-ups a good exercise?
The act of “pushing” is one of the most primal of movements. After crawling, as infants we begin to use our upper body movements to push and squirm our way to our feet (kinda like a mini-burpee). With the push-up, not only are we constantly supporting our bodyweight, but we are strengthening many important upper body muscles and our trunk (core/abs). The push-up may as be the most important and most efficient upper body exercise for women.
The push-up is one of the first exercises we are “taught.” I use the word “taught” loosely since we really are never taught how to perform a perfect push-up, as many times push-ups were associated with a “do as many as you can” mentality, no matter what. It’s an easy exercise to command, but sometimes not an easy exercise to coach.
Since every posture and biomechanical situation is unique, you must look at the push-up as an exercise that should be coached according to your current state of fitness.
In this article and video (below) I am going to guarantee you leave here with the mindset and strength to perform the perfect push-up!
Are men better at push-ups?
Proper push-up form is generally harder to attain for women than it is for men, mostly because of women’s belief that they are not as strong.
That’s right I said BELIEF, not ABILITY. I believe women can achieve a great push-up in form and function just as easily as men can and I’m going to help you do just that.
I’m going to start from the top of your head to the bottom of your feet, because one affects the other and all are equally important!
6 Key Checkpoints for the Perfect Push-Up For Women:
Checkpoint #1: Head
Problem: Jutting and leading the push-up down position with your head, instead of your body. Aside from not being taught correct form this can happen because of weak arms, tight shoulders, and/or tight neck muscles. And if you continue to jut your head forward on your push-up you will not only add to the tightness, you won’t be getting stronger and improve your performance like you would by correcting the dysfunction!
Solution: Always keep the back of your head in alignment with your spine. Pick a spot about a foot or two out of the front of you and focus on that. If your arms are currently too weak to go ALL the way down, perform the push-up correctly by not going all the way, just as far down as you can do keeping optimal form.
Checkpoint #2: Chest
Problem: Not leading the push-up motion with your chest.
Solution: Keep your chest OPEN! Once you have perfected the art of keeping your head strong and in alignment with your spine, leading with your chest will happen naturally. The key to leading with your chest is what I call “lengthen out”, meaning to extend your body by driving your shoulder blades back and down and straightening your spine.
Checkpoint #3: Elbows
Problem: Flaring your elbows out and up, causing your shoulders to round and your head to just forward.
Solution: Keep your hands LESS than shoulder width apart! Ideally, you should keep your elbows into the sides of your body especially if you are just starting to do push-ups OR do push-ups correctly. Doing this helps keep your shoulders in the correct position and it makes it easier to keep your head and spin neutral. Remember everything is connected!
Checkpoint #4: Belly and Hips
Problem: Not drawing your belly button into your spine and not engaging your hips.
Solution: There should be NO movement at the hip joint. Drawing your belly button requires you to be conscious and aware of your body and current position, in this case, the push-up position. While performing a push-up: Take a deep diaphragmatic breath in through your nose, drawing your belly button in as you go down and as you drive your body up, exhale through the mouth with pursed lips.
Juanita lost over 42 pounds in less than 9 months doing THESE exercise routines (perfect push-ups included)
Checkpoint #5: Low Back
Problem: Allowing your low back to sway down compressing your lower (lumbar) vertebrae, which can lead to lower back injuries and pain.
Solution: Draw your belly button in and keep it there! If you are following along, especially after the Belly and Hips discussion, then you should have no problems keeping your lower back in the right position.
The lower back generally sways when you are compensating from weak upper body and arm strength. Focus and be aware of your form and if you notice your low back curving, try and fix it by the Belly and Hips solution and if that doesn’t work, then first do wall push-ups (see picture) and then progress to knee push-ups!
Checkpoint #6: Knees/Toes
Problem: Staying on your knees when you should be on your toes OR staying on your toes when you should be on your knees.
Solution: Quality NOT Quantity! If you are just starting out, it’s probably a smart idea to start on your journey to the perfect push-up on your knees until you can successfully perform about 15 push-ups with perfect form.
From there, you should perform as many as you can on your toes, then complete the rest of the set on your knees. The main point with this checkpoint is that you should focus on the quality of your push-ups before you focus on the quantity.
Before Your Perfect Push-Up: Take a Deep Breath, Literally…
One last thing to consider before, during, and after your perfect push-up is your breathing. Specifically for the push-up, you want to breath in through your nose (with your tongue behind your front teeth) as you go down in your movement and then breathe out through your mouth (ideally with pursed lips) as you come up in your movement.
Breathing will increase your performance and help keep your form stable.
If you have any questions on push-ups, let me know in the comments section!
And now some random quotes:
“Practice makes perfect, and perfect practice makes for sexy arms!”
“Repetition is the mother of skill, provided their skill in your repetitions, and skilled repetitions burn fat!”
P.S. I shot this video for you explaning this article in detail: