Push-ups are not only the classic exercise itself, familiar to us from the school bench, but also a number of its modifications, allowing to work out certain muscle groups qualitatively, develop strength and endurance. A lot of articles and books have been written about push-ups. In order not to get confused in a lot of information, let's systematize the knowledge about this exercise and see what goals it can help to achieve.
If you approach the issue globally, then during the performance of push-ups, almost all the muscles of our body work. However, when planning the training process, the insignificant load that, say, the press gets, we can neglect and focus on those muscle groups that perform the main work.
The most involved during push-ups are:
By changing the position of the arms and body, we can shift the emphasis of the load on any of the specified muscle groups. In addition to muscle training, push-ups are an excellent tool for developing endurance, increasing explosive strength (plyometric), training the cardiovascular system, strengthening ligaments and tendons.
In this article, we will first examine the classical technique of exercise. Next, we will analyze the following series of questions:
Most of the push-ups that will be listed below are dedicated to separate articles on our website. You can always read about the exercise in more detail by clicking on the appropriate link.
The traditional version of the exercise is as follows:
Place your feet a short distance apart on toes.
This basic execution technique loads the pectoral muscles, triceps and slightly front bundles of deltas.
Additionally, the muscles stabilize the body. It can be considered as the basis from which we will build on, considering variations for the accented study of specific muscles.
To pump the chest, the technique of performing the exercise needs to be built so that it implies the reduction of arms (shoulders) to each other. After all, this is what is the main function of the pectoral muscles. Remember any exercises on the chest: a bench press, a crossover, a press from the chest in a hammer, etc.
When push-ups with a wide setting of arms, the chest works the most. After all, in fact, to raise the body to the highest point, you need to straighten your elbows and, overcoming the weight of your own body, bring your shoulders to each other.
The distribution of load on the pectoral muscles depends on the position of your body relative to the floor:
However, the higher the legs, the stronger the shoulders are involved. Therefore, in order not to shift the load from the pectoral muscles, do not lift your legs too high. The height of the bench is the maximum.
The higher you put your hands, the lower the load on the upper body in principle (since the weight puts pressure on the legs). Therefore, it is precisely for the purpose of developing the bottom of the chest that push-ups are rarely used. As a rule, in this case push-ups are used on parallel bars, when your legs do not rest on the floor, but hang in the air.
It is also not a secret that the effectiveness of muscle development depends on the amplitude of movement. That is, the total on how much you contract muscle in the positive phase of movement and stretch in the negative.
In order to better stretch the pectoral muscles at the lower point, you can use special stops for the hands. They will let you go below. The role of the stops can be performed by any two stable objects that you can put your hands on.
Triceps always works when push-ups, no matter how your arms, legs, etc. are placed.
After all, you have to extend your elbows anyway. But, as elsewhere, it has its own characteristics. Triceps is not the strongest and largest muscle in the body. And when it is possible to "share" the load with stronger companions - the pectoral muscles - he does it with pleasure. That is, the stronger the pectoral muscles are connected to the movement, the less triceps are strained.
Accordingly, for training the back surface of the arms, the breast should be turned off as much as possible. Therefore, the reduction of hands to each other is removed from the movement. The palms are not widely divorced, but placed on the width of the shoulders or narrower, until the palms touch, and the elbows are pulled back and brought to the body.
When push-ups with a narrow grip, just like with diamond push-ups (a variation of the previous ones), it is the triceps muscles of the shoulder that train best.
There is another type of triceps exercise that deserves special attention.
These are back push-ups. With this technique, hands are placed on a bench behind the hull.
With the help of special push-ups, it is possible to pump the middle and front bundles of the deltoid muscles well. To do this, raise the pelvis and legs as high as possible, that is, actually stand upside down and press yourself off the floor. In other words, inclined and vertical push-ups in a handstand are aimed at the development of the shoulders.
It is worth undertaking them only when the options for exercise on the chest and triceps have already been worked out by you to the ideal state. Keeping your weight on your hands is much more difficult than on your feet, so you should be especially careful here. When performing vertical push-ups, the legs are raised high on a support, which the wall may well serve as.
So, above we examined three main groups of push-ups that differ in the width of the arms and the position of the body relative to the floor. But the scope of the exercise is not limited to training the chest, triceps and shoulders.
Now let's move on to narrower points, for example, purposeful strengthening of hands and fingers. This aspect is extremely important when practicing martial arts and any sports that involve punches, palms or fingers.
To strengthen the shock surface of the fist and ligaments of the hands, push-ups on the fists and on the back of the palms are used. To make fingers strong and strong, respectively, push-ups on the fingers will help.
Explosive force is the ability to perform maximum work in a minimum period of time.
This quality is necessary when doing crossfit and many other disciplines. Explosive strength exercises already imply good athlete endurance and well-developed muscles. Therefore, they are not recommended for beginners.
Plyometric exercises include push-ups with cotton, Spartan push-ups (one hand is placed slightly in front and the other is slightly behind, their position changes in the jump) and any other variations that require dynamic change of pose during the movement.
A great example of a multifunctional plyometric exercise combining jumping and push-ups is Burpy.
Below are the exercises of a high degree of difficulty, designed to demonstrate a good level of physical fitness of the athlete. Namely, strength, muscular development, the ability to maintain balance and coordinate the work of the whole body in a coordinated manner.
Here are some of these exercises:
In addition to complicating the push-up technique with your own weight, you can increase the load by doing an exercise with additional weight. For example, you can ask a partner to put a pancake from the bar on your back. If you do push-ups at home, the usual backpack can act as a load.A special weighted vest will also be a good purchase.
When push-ups with weights, you should especially carefully follow the movement technique.
In most cases, trained athletes and without any help will know what exercises to perform and how to provide a load on certain muscle groups. But what to do for those who are just starting their journey?
You can start by mastering push-ups from the “chest” and “triceps” items, just do them with emphasis on your knees, not on your feet. Thus, it will be much easier to hold your body and gradually your muscles will be strengthened enough to switch to the usual, and then to the complicated technique.
Strive to increase the number of repetitions to 10-15 in at least three approaches. Then increase the load, for example, starting to perform the first approach in the standard technique, and the next two from the knees.
The number of repetitions and approaches largely depends on the role that push-ups play in your training program.
There are various programs and techniques aimed at increasing the number of push-ups.
Summing up everything said above, we can say that push-ups from the floor are far from obsolete atavism from school physical education lessons, but a whole complex of various functional exercises , allowing you to effectively work out the muscles of the upper body, develop strength and endurance. Train with pleasure and the results will not be long in coming!