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The Benefits of Push Ups


Push Up Training

As soon as you join a gym, you are likely to discard the push-up in favour of the bench press, cable racks or the pec dec - dazzled like a kid in a sweet shop at the range of options available to you.

However, the benefits of push ups are many.

A few peak-time trips to the gym and you'll soon see that floor space is a lot easier to get hold of than bench time, while keeping your hand in with the push-up will allow you get a decent workout when you just don't have time to leave the house.

Don't ever think that you're missing out, as the push-up is a complex compound move that works your chest, biceps and core. There are even a few tough variations open to you once you get to grips with the exercise.

1. How to do it

You've probably been doing it since you were old enough to know what a bicep is, but there is a good chance your technique is not as good as it can be.

Lie on the floor face down and place your hands about 2.5-3 feet (75-90cm) apart. Hold your body up at arm's length while balancing on your toes.

Bending at the elbows, lower yourself downward until your chest almost touches the floor. Breathe in.

Now, exhale and push your upper body back up to the starting position, squeezing your muscles in your chest as you rise.

After a brief pause, repeat for as many repetitions as needed.

2. Test yourself

As they are a body weight exercise, push-ups are useful to test your fitness and strength. Test yourself by performing push-ups for three minutes. Rest as much as you need, but don't stop the clock. Strength coaches consider 55 to be 'average', with 75 being deemed as (far too mundanely, in our opinion)'good'. If you can't reach 75 or just want a challenge then you could try some variations. Fit these into your chest sessions to build the added strength, power and sleeve-ripping muscle you'll need.

3. Variations

Plyometric push-up - This is the famous clap push-up star of various Hollywood workout montages. It's great for developing explosive upper-body power. Use the standard position, but push up quick and hard enough for your hands to leave the floor. A padded mat may take some strain off your wrists, while a few extra inches gap between your feet could help you for stability.

Raised push-up - Not for the faint-hearted or bandy-armed. Place your feet on a high surface such as a bench or a few steps up the stairs and start your reps. The benefits of push ups when raised are even better - they increase the resistance and targets the upper chest muscles more.

One-handed push-up - Again, this is tough, but more about technique than brute strength this time. The 'arm-out' technique sees your legs spread much wider than your shoulders to provide the stability you'll lack from using one arm. You should feel the tension in the press arm (obviously) across to the opposite leg. Keep your other arm behind your back and go for it. Only use two fingers if you are Bruce Lee.