There are numerous different exercises you can do to develop your muscles, but many fitness experts and personal trainers agree that push-ups are among the best. This simple exercise can be performed comfortably in any location, including your home, even if you do not have a lot of space. You don’t need any equipment, and you work against the weight of your own body to develop your strength.
While you may think of push-ups as “just another exercise”, or a “last resort” exercise when you don’t have a gym, they are perhaps among the most effective workouts there are for strengthening and stabilizing your upper body.
1. Push-ups are a compound exercise
Push-ups work out a number of different muscles simultaneously and produce functional strength. There is a reason that push-ups are so difficult for so many people. They involve a very large number of muscles, many of which you rarely use for difficult work, and which are undertrained. Not only your biceps are worked out, but also your abs and lower back muscles, as well as your quadriceps. The triceps, anterior deltoids, and chest are all exercised as well. That means that push-ups are actually a full body workout, with many secondary muscles receiving a boost.
2. Enjoy the benefits of a nice stretch
The biceps and back get a bit of a stretch while you are doing push-ups, so along with strengthening your muscles, you are also toning them. This helps keep you limber, and also can improve the appearance of the muscles you are building.
3. Push-ups boost your cardiovascular health
Push-ups help to circulate blood through the entire body, and are great for your heart and cardiovascular health. A healthy heart means a longer life, and often a healthier, more able one as well.
4. Push-ups increase your body’s production of human growth hormone, or HGH
HGH helps your muscles to grow. Our bodies manufacture it in larger quantities when we are young. This is one of the reasons that it gets harder to put on muscle as you get older. If you are having a tough time bulking out, doing more push-ups may help you. To get this benefit, you need to do a number of repetitions, and make push-ups one of your main exercises.
5. Push-ups protect your body from injury
One of the most common injuries as people get older are rotator cuff injuries. These can be crippling, and challenging to recover from. Many people never even make full recoveries, and lose some of their range of motion and strength. These injuries can cause a lot of pain and limit mobility. Doing push-ups properly strengthens and stabilizes the muscles which support your shoulders. The stronger and more stable this system is, the less likely you are to injure it.
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You may assume that any and all exercise is good for you, but this is not the case. Ironically, doing a lot of bench pressing without doing push-ups can actually make it more likely you will get injured. Why? You strengthen your chest and shoulder muscles when you use a bench press, but not the support system for your shoulders. When you use those muscles to lift something or do some other task, there is no counterbalance in place to keep everything where it belongs. The result is often a torn rotator cuff. This is why balance is so important in your workouts.
6. Improve posture
One more way in which doing push-ups can protect you from injury is by correcting your posture. This is only true if you do them correctly, however; if you arch your back too much, you are doing them wrong and will teach your body bad habits. If however you do them with your back straight, you will teach your body good habits. This will reduce back pain and also protect you from straining your back.
Doing Your Pushups
What do you do if you cannot do a push-up? Don’t be discourage, everyone has to start somewhere. If you cannot do a push-up yet, try holding the correct form of the posture instead (get someone to help you so that you know you are doing it right the first few times). Even holding this posture has health benefits and can help strengthen your body.
You can also try doing a “press-up”, where you perform a push-up motion, but with your knees firmly planted on the ground. After a while, you’ll be able to do one full push-up, and then many more!