The summer is quickly creeping up on us, with little time to prepare! Many of us are already planning a summer vacation or actively thinking about how to enjoy the summer best. So if you want to build your summer physique, the time to start is now. But what if you are back on business travel and can not follow your workout plan? No worries, we got you covered.
If you have to stay in a hotel without access to a gym, another straightforward way to accomplish your summer physique is the push-up. In what follows, we will be diving deep into the world of push-ups. Not only will we share the many benefits of this multifaceted exercise, but we will provide descriptions of the many variations of push-ups available to perform. So, if you want to master the push-up, continue reading!
What Muscles do Push-ups work?
While push-ups often are only thought of as one exercise for the chest, the other muscles should not be overlooked. When performing a standard push-up, the other muscles you will target are the shoulders, the triceps, and the core muscles. This will help you not only look good but feel more confident. The illustration of a standard push-up below highlights the main involved muscle groups in red.
As push-ups have different variations (and difficulties), every variation may work for a different muscle group. For example, performing wall push-ups will mainly work on the arms, shoulders, and chest. On the other hand, standard push-ups will particularly help strengthen the chest, shoulders, and back muscles. And by performing narrow push-ups, you work the triceps and chest muscles, while elevated push-ups help work the shoulders, upper back, and triceps.
In summary, a push-up targets several upper body muscles, allowing those who perform them consistently and correctly to improve strength and sculpt their physique. Depending on the angle of your body and your stance width, you can also emphasize different muscle groups or regions better. However, it is difficult to give an exact percentage of how much each muscle group contributes. Therefore, it is recommended to do several different types of push-ups for optimal development.
Variations of the Push-Up
There are several push-up variations, each with its own purpose and benefits. If you are new to the movement and have yet to master any other type of push-up, it is likely best to stick to learning the standard push-up before attempting any different variation. But, of course, the kind of push-up that you opt to perform will largely depend on your current strength, experience, and capability levels.
The good news is that the standard push-up has an extremely low barrier to entry, with adaptations able to accommodate even the most passive and inexperienced. Start doing wall push-ups or kneeling push-ups if the standard push-up is too challenging. If the standard push-up variation becomes too easy, explore these three common variations of push-ups:
- Wide push-up
- Narrow push-up
- Elevated push-up
The standard push-up position starts in the plank position with extended legs so that the knees do not touch the floor. The head is kept neutral by looking down at the floor, and the hands are placed under the shoulder. Make sure that the back does not sag, the core remains tight, and the hips do not lift into the air.
Muscles worked: arms, shoulders, chest, and serratus anterior.
The wide push-up is only slightly different from the standard push-up. It just involves widening the distance between the hands, focusing more on the chest muscles. Get into the plank position, but place the hands further out to the side. The elbows will point further out to the side as the arms bend.
Muscles worked: chest, shoulders, and back muscles.
The narrow push-up is another variation of the standard push-up, but it is usually more difficult. It reduces the distance between the hands, which means that the arm muscles have to work harder. As in the standard push-up, get into the plank position. This time, place the hands closer together and directly below the chest. The elbows should tuck back into the body as the arms bend and straighten.
Muscles worked: triceps and chest muscles.
The elevated push-up position raises the feet above the body, which requires more strength to get back into a plank position. As done with the other variations, start in the plank position and then raise the lower half of the body. Place the toes on a sturdy object, ideally a bench, but a box or chair will do it. Place the hands underneath the shoulders, keeping the arms straight.
Muscles worked: shoulders, upper back, and triceps.
The Benefits of the Push-up
When it comes to staying in shape (or getting in shape), the push-up is arguably the most superior of exercises, not only for its low barrier to entry but for its effectiveness and versatility. Furthermore, the push-up can also come in handy for those looking to build their ideal summer body. Whether you are on the road, at the beach, or even in your hotel room, the push-up can be performed optimally and without interruption.
Doing push-ups can be a powerful full-body workout. This is because a large amount of energy is used to lift and lower much of the body's weight in a short period. In addition to muscular development, a push-up has also been attributed to improving balance and posture, and flexibility.
In a nutshell, push-ups are a simple exercise that requires very little or even no equipment, so a person can easily do them as part of an at-home or in-hotel-room workout. There are also many push-up variations to suit people of different strengths and abilities. Let us have a look how to get started.
How to Master the Push-Up
Before learning how to master the push-up, it is crucial to learn how to avoid doing it incorrectly. Like any exercise, there are several common mistakes when it comes to the execution of the push-up. The following are the most common mistakes to avoid when executing the push-up:
- Placing your hands too far forward
- Dropping the hips
- Flaring the elbows
- Not controlling the eccentric and concentric portions
Tips for proper form
Doing push-ups without proper form can lead to an injury. Doing the exercise in the correct form will avoid experiencing lower back or shoulder pain. And if the push-up variation is too difficult to begin with, modify the exercise to make it easier.
Things to do to perform a proper push-up:
- Keep the back straight and core engaged.
- The butt should be down, not lifted.
- The body should form a straight line, not arching the back.
- And the body should never sag down.
Ask your gym buddy to make sure your form is correct or take a video when exercising alone.
Step-by-step Guide for mastering the Standard Push-up
While the following is certainly a great guide, nothing is better than taking action. If you are attempting to master the push-up on your own, consider an external app such as FitBod to track your progress throughout the process; Heck, even take a video of yourself to correct your form!
- Begin in a classic plank position w/ arms shoulder-width apart.
- Legs should be fully extended w/ body completely aligned.
- Tuck your elbows in at a 45-degree angle, palms under your shoulders.
- Breathe in. Engage the core and buttocks muscles and bend the elbows to lower the chest as close to the floor as possible.
- Pause for 1 second.
- Breathe out. Push the arms straight to lift the body off the floor and back into the plank position.
By maintaining a neutral spine, engaging the core, providing your body with a base through the strength of your fingers and palms, and prioritizing control throughout the repetition, you will be well on your way to mastering the standard push-up!
How many reps?
As always with fitness, this depends on various factors such as age range, gender, and of course, physical fitness. A good way to figure out how many reps can be done in a set is to perform as many push-ups as possible in two minutes. This total number then gets divided by three. So, for example, if the number was 36, this would translate into three (3) sets of 12 push-ups with short breaks of 2 minutes between them.
The Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology also created some norms with the follow ing categories: needs improvement, fair, good, very good, and excellent. This might provide some guiding principle too. Another example might be the U.S. Air Force. Recruits must pass a physical fitness test that includes 1-minute push-ups. Men must perform at least 33 push-ups and women 18 or more. While some people try to perform as many push-ups as they can within a certain time frame until they tire out, this is not a recommended strategy for daily exercise as it could lead to burnout or injury.
Whether you are a beginner or professional, the push-up can be a great implement if executed safely and effectively, both while traveling or in your own home!
And if you are traveling from hotel to hotel, you are likely to experience a lack of equipment variety. In such circumstances, the push-up can be a valuable and effective exercise implement. To help you stay on track during your travels, consider checking out a fitness app like FitBod. Here, you can input your progress so that you can hold yourself accountable during your travels with ease.