Everyone has done very well this winter with getting outside to walk, run, x-country ski or even cycle on a regular basis! Well done! This is so good for everyone’s mental health as well as their physical health. Just getting outside for 20 or more minutes on a regular basis helps one’s mood immensely. The heart, lungs, bones and muscles of the legs also all benefit greatly from these activities. This is so great! But now what are you doing to maintain or improve your overall strength, especially of your upper body and core? Are push-ups in your weekly plan?
I know it isn’t always easy to motivate yourself to do push-ups on your own, at home. These darn lockdowns have shown me that I need people, with me, in a fitness class, for me to do some push-ups. I am not hugely self motivated it seems! But, if you have a little desire to have a stronger body but not a great desire to spend a lot of time getting there, then push-ups are your answer. A single push-up uses the pectoral muscles of the chest, the biceps and triceps in the upper arm, the front and rear heads of the deltoid muscles of the shoulder, the rhomboid, trapezius, and latissimus dorsi muscles of the back as well as the abdominal and back extensor muscles of your core. If you are looking for one power move that trains a wide variety of muscle groups in one swoop, without no equipment required, other than your own body choose the basic push-up.
If the traditional, from the toes, push-up is too daunting for you, there are several options to try first. Be sure to pay close attention to correct form. When you can easily do 10 or more push-ups from one option, move on to the next. Standing with your feet a few feet out from a wall and your hands on the wall at shoulder height while pushing yourself out and in, is a place to start. The next progression would be to use a counter top. Next a chair or low table. Be sure to keep a straight line through the spine. Avoid dropping the hips low or keeping the butt high. Be sure to engage the abdominal muscles as well as the muscles of the upper back. Low back discomfort signals incorrect form. The lower you go with your hand position the more challenging the push-up will be. If you are on the floor, try a push-up from your knees first as these are a little easier than from your toes. Again, any low back or shoulder discomfort can mean incorrect technique, so adjust. If your hands are wide you will be using the chest muscles more. If your hands are narrow, the triceps will be in play more than other muscles. Triceps push-ups are typically more difficult as the muscle group is small. Try several different hand positions for variety.
Another easy to do at home exercise for upper body strength is the triceps dip. Not only does this body weight exercise target the triceps at the back of the arm but it also uses the muscles of the chest, back and shoulder. You can do these from the edge of a chair or table. Be sure to choose one that won’t slide out from under you at all. Sit at the edge of a chair with your hands on it. Point the elbows back, squeezing the shoulder blades together and the elbows in. Slide your butt off the chair and lower it down by bending the elbows. Straighten the elbows to come back up. Repeat as many times as you can comfortably. Be sure to avoid crunching the shoulders. Continue to engage the muscles of the upper back. Keeping the knees at a 90 degree angle will be easier. To challenge yourself, move the feet out from the chair. Be sure to push down into the chair and not push it back.
These two body weight exercises when done correctly and on a regular basis will be very beneficial to your upper body strength. Which will be beneficial to your quality of life. Add these as often as possible to your walk, run, cycle plan and complete your exercise plan. Exercise for the health of it!
#fitnesscorner #pushup #tricepsdip