The push-up strengthens your arms, chest, and shoulders and also engages your upper back, abs, glutes, and thighs. The trick to doing it correctly is engaging your upper back and squeezing your shoulder blades together so you really use your chest muscles to push up from the floor. By sticking your chest out and pulling your shoulder blades back at the same time, you’ll engage the proper muscle groups.
Come to all fours on the floor. Place your hands directly beneath your shoulders, and knees below your hips. Engage your abs and core muscles and reach one leg back, followed by the other, so you’re balancing on your toes in a plank position. Keep your head aligned with your spine, and your feet together with your heels reaching behind you.
Slowly bend your elbows to lower your body to the floor. Keep your abs and core engaged and your torso rigid. Do not round your back or allow your hips to sag or raise. Try to lower yourself until your chin or chest touches the floor. Do not rest on the floor at the bottom of the move. You can flare your elbows out or hold them close to your body. Holding your elbows in will shift more of the work to your triceps.
To raise yourself back up, draw your shoulders back, pinching your shoulder blades together while pushing your chest out and straightening your arms. Keep your body rigid and your head in line with your spine.
You can modify this exercise to accommodate your fitness level. For beginners, do the push-up from your knees. If you are more advanced, you can do the push-up balanced on one foot, or with both feet elevated on a bench or stair.
April 10, 2015
Janet O’Dell, RN