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Push-ups are one of the easiest exercises for developing the shoulders, arms, back, abdominals, core muscles as well as other parts of your body. It is one of the most popular exercises among students at the "Golden Dragon" school. Let's see what makes this exercise such a favorite.
To start, let's deal with the initial position. It´s essential to keep your entire body straight. Don´t bend at the waist because it can transfer all your weight to the ligaments of the spine, and you won´t be working your muscles properly in this position. In fact, it can even be harmful because there´s the potential that any sudden or abrupt movement could pinch a nerve or dislocate a disc.
You should also avoid the opposite extreme of raising the pelvis too high. This position will put an uneven load on the arms and shoulders, which is not good for their development.
Maintaining the correct position for push-ups, with the waist straight and in-line with the rest of the body, conditions and develops core muscles such as the abdomen.
Put simply, learning the correct position for push-ups is key, otherwise you won´t get the results you´re looking for.
In the standard position, hands and feet should be placed about shoulder width apart. There´s a widely held but mistaken belief that placing one foot over the other leads to quicker and better results. This is a fitness myth, however. Placing one foot over the other can lead to uneven or asymmetrical muscle development, because muscle groups that should be involved in push-ups aren´t worked. It can also lead to less than optimal coordination.
There are many variations on the classic push-up. For example, you can bend your elbows to the sides or keep them tucked in close to the body. Both options are useful, as they each work different muscle groups. In the first position, your weight is mostly on your hands, and in the second position on the shoulders. Also you can perform push-ups with a narrow or wide hand position.
The number of reps and sets you do is also an important factor. For example, if you do 1 set of 50 push-ups, then you´ll be developing strength. If you do 3 sets of 20 push-ups, you´ll be developing speed (e.g. your punches will be quicker). Both options are useful, and we shouldn´t neglect either of them.
Another important thing is your breathing. Inhale as you go down into the push-up, and exhale as you come up. You should always exhale whenever you exert your muscles.
At the beginning of this article we listed the muscle groups which are developed by push-ups. There are many different types of push-ups, each with unique characteristics. While training at Golden Dragon, we perform different push-up variations, but only a few of us know the difference between them. Here we´ve chosen several types of push-ups and describe them in detail. There is a video at the end of this article, which demonstrates each of these variations.
- The classic push-ups on the hands: If you tuck the elbows in close to the body, then you´ll be primarily working the arm muscles. If you hold your elbows out at an angle from the body, then the load place more on the pectoral muscles and the muscles of the shoulder girdle.
- Push-ups on the palms, fingers inside: These push-ups are easier than the previous ones. If you put the palms at the shoulder width or wider, you work your chest. Upper abs are also included in this workout. If you put palms together in the middle and clinch the fingers, it will work your triceps, flexors and extensors of the forearm. Also you work your waist area muscles and deltoids.
- Palms together: This hands position works the triceps and lats.
- Finger Push-ups: Isometric pressure on the forearm, on the flexors and extensors of the fingers and on the finger tendons. Isometric pressure is the most intense pressure for human beings.
- Vertical fist: These push-ups greatly strengthen the wrist joints. The main work is done by the triceps and to a lesser extent the chest.
- From vertical fist to the wrists out side and back: These push-ups work the extensor muscles along the outside of the forearm, strengthening the wrists and related ligaments. The flexors muscles along the inside of the forearm get a semi-isometric workout.
- Horizontal fist: These push-ups should be done with a wide hand position. Place your weight on first two knuckles (index and middle fingers). This push-up focuses on the pectoral muscles. Also the forearms and wrists are strengthened.
- Push-ups on the outer wrists: You can do this with elbows to the sides or kept close to the body. The second way is more difficult. With these push-ups your forearm extensor muscles are worked because, reflexively, they try to straighten the wrist.
- Push-ups on the outer wrists, fingers apart: Most of the work is done by the wrist, which strengthens it. This push-up requires less tricep effort because of elbow position. But the forearm muscles are active.
- Deep push-ups: Maximum pressure for triceps. It is most effective for building the triceps because it creates maximum tension. The elbows should touch the floor, and you have to push-up in one smooth motion.
- Clapping Push-ups: These push-ups are very good for fast contraction training of arm, shoulder, and upper chest muscles. You can be as strong as you like, but still slow. Strength is useless, if you are not able to apply it quickly. Clapping push-ups help balance your power with speed.
- Chinese pushups: All muscles, are involved, both flexors and extensors with primary pressure on the back and abs. Do not support yourself by putting elbows on the floor and do not bend them too much.
- Transverse wave: To be performed on both sides. Hands should be put wide. Almost all muscles are worked.
- Leopard´s Fist: Push-ups on a half-curled fist. These push-ups give the forearm muscles a strong workout while reinforcing the ligament encircling the wrist. Keep in mind that these push-ups can be painful for your finger joints.
- On the thumbs: Do not do these push-ups without preparation, you can easily dislocate your fingers. Thumb ligaments and tendons are strengthened with this exercise.
- On the one palm: This is an advanced form of push-ups. Arms, shoulders and lats are fully involved in this exercise. This is unique form of push-ups, which focuses in particular on the lats.
This is the video of our instructors Stas correctly performing all listed push-ups and Andrew showing all mistakes students make (the video is available only with Russian subtitles, we will make English version very soon).
Author: Golden Dragon school