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Push Yourself to the Limit with Push-ups
How many push-ups can you do? It’s a question many of us dread to answer since push-ups are just plain hard, aren’t they? I am sure a few bodybuilders out there will say, “Push-ups? Easy as pie!” Well if you’re like the rest us, push-ups are far from being “easy as pie” and if you’ve ever made pie from scratch you’d probably agree, making pie isn’t as “easy” as the saying goes. There are a lot of steps involved, everything has to be just right, and cooked at the right temperature. So I guess in that sense, push-ups are like pie—a challenging task at hand!
It is unknown who created the push-up exercise, but this exercise has been around at least since 1905 when it was first recorded. This exercise in general has been targeted towards men and is still presently used by militias and other armed forces as a form of strength training, and at times, punishment. It’s a common belief that push-ups will make you get big beefy arms with bulging biceps, and as a woman, who wants that? I can’t think of one woman who would jump at the chance to get big beefy arms, can you? So what is the truth about push-ups? You will not develop big bulging muscles overnight. Push-ups in general will help sculpt your arms, not triple them in size.
Here is how to do a push-up:
Push-Ups Could Mean Perky Breasts!
If you’re still slightly on edge about getting Popeye arms, you’ll be happy to know push-ups work more than just your arms. When you perform a push-arm, you’re working your arms (of course, let’s not forget that includes your triceps, which are the backs of your arms that are more prone to collecting fat) and also your chest, pectorals (pecs), your deltoids (shoulder muscles) and your back. If you’re a woman reading that list and thought “oh no” when you saw the word “pecs,” don’t be worry. Although there is a chance continuous and regular push-ups could contribute to reducing breast size, any cardiovascular exercise can do that as well since your breasts (unless you have implants) are made up of fatty tissues. All cardiovascular workouts and most workouts in general equate to fat loss over time, so fat loss has to come from somewhere, right? And where do many people store fat? Your breasts are one place.
However, this information should not deter you from doing push-ups. If anything, you should be excited. Have you ever heard of a “push-up” bra? Why do they call it a “push-up” bra? Maybe the meaning is linked to push-ups. For any woman with sagging or drooping breasts, push-ups can actually naturally lift your breasts higher. When your pecs are getting worked out, it’s working two muscles specifically: your pectorialis major (the major part of your chest muscle) and the pectroralis minor (the smaller chest muscle that is underneath the pectorialis major). Both of these muscles are underneath your breasts (fatty tissue). When you exercise, you are actually working these two muscles out, NOT your breasts. When you tone and strengthen these muscles, it means you are making the muscles tighter. Translation: your pec muscles will hold your breasts up higher, much like a push-up bra, making them perkier for women and for men, more defined and sculpted. But the awesome benefits of push-ups don’t stop here.
Health Benefits of Push-ups: Why Push-ups are a Great Exercise
- Push-ups are a great way to improve your level of body fitness since it involves both weight lifting (yourself) and cardiovascular and strength training.
- Push-ups can increase your level of endurance.
- Push-ups provide core stability. Although they seem to only focus on the upper body, you have to use your core muscles to maintain a push-up position (just like the plank exercise).
- Push-ups can increase your overall level of strength and power.
- Push-ups can prevent injuries such as slips and falls. Studies show you are less likely to injure yourself since push-ups strengthen your hands, wrists, arms and chest. It’s the same if you fall and you are unable to get up. What enables you to lift yourself up? Upper body strength that you can gain from push-ups.
Are you excited yet about push-ups after reading over these benefits? If you are, maybe you’d like to take it a step further and challenge yourself with this diamond push-up.
How to Perform a Diamond Push-Up
- Get into proper push-up form as demonstrated on our “Top 10 Home Workout Moves.”
- While holding yourself up with your palms flat on the ground, move your hands together until the tips of your thumbs are touching.
- Rotate your hands inward until the tips of your index fingers are also touching. With both your thumbs and index fingers touching one another, you should see that your hands are shaped like a diamond.
- While holding the position, lower yourself to the diamond—as low as you can comfortably go without touching the ground and lift back up to your starting position. This is the completion of one diamond push-up. Do as many as you can!
If you can do this and it still isn’t challenging enough, I urge you to try the one-arm push-up to feel the ultimate resistance. Famous actor and bodybuilder, Sylvester Stallone, performed several one-arm push-ups in one of his most successful movies, Rocky. Late actor and famous martial arts instructor, Bruce Lee, was also known for doing the one-arm push-up. Lee, a bit of a show-up, could even do them with just two fingers! Think you have what it takes to be like the pros? Give it a try.
How to Perform the One-Arm Push-Up
- Get into the starting position as outlined on our demonstration page and spread your legs apart (a little past the width of your hips—you going to need to do this for balance).
- Balance with your weight on your right hand and lift your left hand behind your back. Just like in a regular push-up, your right arm should remain past your shoulders.
- Lower yourself toward the ground and return to the starting position.
- Perform as many one-arm push-ups as you can and then switch arms.
There are several variations of push-ups, but one thing is clear. Push-ups are hard! If you are struggling at all with performing push-ups or maybe you want to get faster results, check out our tips for beginners and push-up enthusiasts below.
Push-up Tips of the Trade
Push-up Tip #1: If you are struggling to perform even one push-up, don’t give up! Being able to perform a push-up can be challenging, so start with a simplified version. Instead of balancing on your toes, balance on your knees with your feet in the area. This will reduce some of the pressure and weight, making the push-up easier.
Push-up Tip #2: To tone your arms faster, perform your push-ups slower. As you lower yourself close to the ground, hover for a few seconds in place (at least 5 seconds or longer) before lifting yourself back up into the starting position. You’ll notice with this tip, you likely will not be able to do as many push-ups as you could before. This modification is more intense and will help you achieve toner arms sooner.
As you begin or continue your push-up workouts, maybe you’d like to know some push-up records?
Push-up World Records
Most Push-ups in a Calendar Year: 1,500,230! This record was secured by Paddy Doyle of the UK who average 4,000 push-ups per day!
Most Push-Ups in One Day (24 hours): 46,001! This record was secured by Charles Servizio of the USA.
Most One-Arm Push-Ups in 5 hours: Using only his right arm, Paddy Doyle of the UK performed 8,784 one-arm push-ups!
We hope you have enjoyed learning a little bit about push-ups. In the words of famous American football athlete Joe Namath, “If you aren’t going all the way, why go at all?” Good luck with your push-up journey and we know you have what it takes to go all the way!