Monday, 31 January 2011

Push ups - the challenge...

In my last post I set myself a target of doing 50 push-ups. I hadn't really thought about how I would get there but T left me a comment with a link to a website called  Hundred Push-ups. com. Having reviewed the website I have decided to take up the challenge! My target is still 50 rather than 100 push-ups but I'm going to follow the programme to achieve it.

Why do push ups? Apparently push ups are the ultimate exercise. In a single push up motion you simultaneously strengthen the chest, deltoids, lower back and triceps. In order not to collapse to the floor with each push up you have to spend as much time and effort lowering your body down as pushing it back up. According to Myatt Murphy," It's this controlled pace that works muscles through three types of muscle-building resistance (concentric, eccentric and isometric) while teaching them to work as a team."

Myatt also goes on to say that other benefits of push ups include improving your reaction time by training your proprioceptive fibres to respond more quickly. Apparently, holding yourself in a push up position causes proprioceptive fibres (part of the body's balance system) to fire continuously just to keep your body from falling over. In addition, due to the high rep nature of push ups, they increase blood flow within the torso and arms, flushing out lactic acid and reducing post workout soreness in the muscles following weights exercises.

How do you do push ups correctly? Though people seem to have slightly different thoughts on this, the following video seems to outline the most common method:

Some sites seem to advocate going down until your chest actually touches the floor whereas others recommend lowering yourself until the elbows are bent at 90 degrees. I can just about get down to 90 degrees and still get back up but if I go all the way to the floor then I find it extremely difficult to get back up. What do you think? 90 degrees or all the way to the floor?

Timing also seems to be important. Most sites recommend taking at least 2 seconds to go down and 2 seconds to come back up to get the maximum improvement. Well I can't physically do it quicker than that anyway! It seems to me that too many people are in rush when they do push ups. Aren't you relying too much on leverage when you do them fast rather than muscular effort?

Good technique seems to be the key to getting the full benefits of doing push ups. The torso must remain rigid,  with the abs pulled in tight and the back straight. The legs should remain straight and the hips not allowed to dip. The head should remain in a neutral position, looking down and mustn't bob down as you lower yourself.

I don't think I can quite do the perfect push up just yet, so as I follow the Hundred Push Up Programme I will be endeavouring to improve my techniques as well as the number of reps I can achieve. If like me you're not too hot at push ups why not join me with the challenge - go to their website to find out what to do. I'll be reporting my progress in the left side bar.....


  1. If you find you cannot master the push up, join the Marines, the DI's will make sure you learn. hehehehehehehehe

  2. Hi, Sue...

    I think going all the way to the ground is ok as long as you don't rest there or use the ground to "bounce" from/get momentum to get back to the starting position. For the kids in our class, we have them go down until their obi knots touch the floor...

    You can also emphasize different muscle groups by where you place your hands - for example, far apart - like in the video - works the anterior deltoid (front muscle that wraps around the shoulder); hands closer together (shoulder width) works more posterior deltoid; hands underneath you (fingers almost touching) works the pectorals hard and hands touching the body on each side near the base of the ribs makes the triceps scream. Ouch...

    Good luck with your 50 pushup challenge :-)

  3. Charles, I don't think the marines will want me - well only as a mascot maybe. LOL

    Felicia, I think going to the ground is too difficult for me at the moment - I just can't get back up! I'm working at trying to get every push up down to 90 degrees even if I do less reps - I reckon a few good push ups are better than lots of poor ones! Thanks for your good advice as usual.

  4. You can't really do a push-up wrong. As long as you are not staining your spine at an unnatural angle, you'll still be getting benefits. I'll check out the hundred push-ups site. Having not seen it, I have seen some great progression work, which starts from doing push-ups against a wall, to partials off your knees to full, then on to full push-ups and on and on. Tons of good stuff out there.

    I may just take you up on the challenge.

    Keep up the good work.

  5. Journeyman, come on - take up the challenge, you know you want to!


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