Push-ups from the floor are not only the classical exercise itself, familiar to us from the school bench, but also a number of its modifications, allowing to work out certain muscle groups qualitatively, to develop strength and endurance. A lot of articles and books have been written about push-ups. In order not to get confused in a lot of information, let's systematize the knowledge about this exercise and see what goals it can help to achieve.
What can be done with push-ups?
If we approach the issue globally, then practically all the muscles of our body work during push-ups. However, when planning the training process, the insignificant load that, say, the press gets, we can neglect and focus on those muscle groups that perform the main work.
When push-ups are most involved:
- pectoral muscles (top, bottom or middle of the chest);
- deltoid muscles of the shoulders.
By changing the position of the arms and body, we can shift the emphasis of the load on any of the indicated muscle groups. In addition to muscle training, push-ups are an excellent tool for developing endurance, increasing explosive strength (plyometric), training the cardiovascular system, strengthening ligaments and tendons.
In this article, we will first examine the classical technique of exercise. Next, we will analyze the following series of questions:
- What kind of push-ups to train the pectoral muscles, arms and shoulders?
- How to achieve strengthening of brushes, fists and fingers?
- What are the plyometric push-ups (developing explosive force)?
- Complicated exercise options and work with extra weight for trained athletes.
- How to start a push-up exercise for beginners?
- How many repetitions and approaches do?
Most options for push-ups, which will be listed below, are dedicated to individual articles on our website. You can always read about the exercise in more detail by clicking on the appropriate link.
The traditional version of the exercise is as follows:
- Take emphasis lying. Place your palms a little wider than your shoulders and pull the body into a string. The neck is a continuation of the back, the stomach does not sag, the lower back is smooth, the buttocks do not rise up. Place your feet a short distance apart on toes.
- On inspiration, without changing the direct position of the body, lower your chest down due to bending your arms in the elbow joints. Between the chest and the floor there are a few centimeters.
- As you exhale, straighten your arms and return to the top point.
This basic execution technique loads the pectoral muscles, triceps and slightly front bundles of deltas. Additionally, the muscles stabilize the body. It can be considered as the basis from which we will build on, considering variations for accented study of specific muscles.
Focus on the chest muscles
To pump the chest, the technique for performing the exercise needs to be built in such a way that it implies the reduction of arms (shoulders) to each other. After all, this is what is the main function of the pectoral muscles. Remember any exercises on the chest: bench press, crossover, chest press in a hammer, etc.
With push-ups with a wide setting of the arms, the chest works the most. After all, in fact, to raise the body to the highest point, you need to straighten your elbows and, overcoming the weight of your own body, bring your shoulders to each other.
The distribution of the load across the pectoral muscles depends on the position of your body relative to the floor:
- Arms and legs on the floor - the middle and slightly lower chest work.
- Legs on a raised platform - the upper chest works. Feet can be placed on a bench or step. However, the higher the legs, the stronger the shoulders are involved. Therefore, in order not to shift the load from the pectoral muscles, do not lift your legs too high. The height of the bench is the maximum.
- Hands on a raised platform - the lower chest works. There is a slightly different feature. The higher you put your hands, the lower the load on the upper body in principle (since the weight puts pressure on the legs). Therefore, it is precisely for the purpose of developing the bottom of the chest that push-ups are rarely used. As a rule, in this case push-ups are used on parallel bars, when your legs do not rest on the floor, but hang in the air.
It is also not a secret that the effectiveness of muscle development depends on the amplitude of movement. That is, the total on how much you contract muscle in the positive phase of movement and stretch in the negative.
In order to better stretch the pectoral muscles at the lower point, you can use special stops for the hands. They will let you go below. The role of the stops can be performed by any two stable objects that you can put your hands on.
Triceps always works with push-ups, no matter how your arms, legs, etc. are placed. After all, you have to unbend your elbows anyway. But, as elsewhere, it has its own characteristics. Triceps is not the strongest and largest muscle in the body. And when there is an opportunity to "share" the load with stronger companions - pectoral muscles - he does it with pleasure. That is, the stronger the pectoral muscles are connected to the movement, the less triceps are strained.
Accordingly, for training the back surface of the arms, the breast must be turned off as much as possible. Therefore, the reduction of hands to each other is removed from the movement. The palms are not widely divorced, but placed on the width of the shoulders or narrower, until the palms touch, and the elbows are pulled back and brought to the body.
With push-ups with a narrow grip, just like with diamond push-ups (a variety of the previous ones), it is the triceps muscles of the shoulder that train best.
There is another type of triceps exercise that deserves special attention. These are back push-ups. With this technique, hands are placed on a bench behind the hull.
For shoulder development
Using special push-ups, you can pump the middle and front bundles of the deltoid muscles well. To do this, raise the pelvis and legs as high as possible, that is, actually stand upside down and press yourself off the floor. In other words, inclined and vertical push-ups in a handstand are aimed at the development of the shoulders.
For their implementation, it is worth taking only when the options for exercise on the chest and triceps have already been worked out by you to the ideal state. Keeping your weight on your hands is much more difficult than on your feet, so you should be especially careful here. When performing vertical push-ups, the legs are raised high on a support, which the wall may well serve as.
Strengthening fists, hands and fingers
So, above we examined three main groups of push-ups, differing by the width of the arms and the position of the body relative to the floor. But the scope of the exercise is not limited to training the chest, triceps and shoulders.
Now let's move on to narrower points, for example, targeted strengthening of the hands and fingers. This aspect is extremely important when practicing martial arts and any sports that involve punches, palms or fingers.
To strengthen the shock surface of the fist and ligaments of the hands, push-ups on the fists and on the back of the palms are used. To make fingers strong and strong, respectively, push-ups on the fingers will help.
Explosive force development
Explosive force is the ability to perform maximum work in a minimum period of time. This quality is necessary when doing crossfit and many other disciplines. Explosive strength exercises already imply good athlete endurance and well-developed muscles. Therefore, they are not recommended for beginners.
Plyometric exercises include push-ups with cotton, Spartan push-ups (one hand is placed slightly in front and the other slightly behind, in the jump their position changes) and any other variations involving a dynamic change of pose during the movement.
A great example of a multifunctional plyometric exercise combining jumping with push-ups is Burpy.
Challenging exercise options
Below are listed exercises of a high degree of difficulty, designed to demonstrate a good level of physical fitness of an athlete. Namely, strength, muscular development, the ability to maintain balance and coordinate the work of the whole body in a coordinated manner.
Here are some of these exercises:
- Hindu push ups.
- Push-ups on one arm .
- Planche (option of push-ups without legs or in the horizon).
In addition to complicating the push-up technique with your own weight, you can increase the load by doing an exercise with additional weights. For example, you can ask a partner to put a pancake from the bar on your back. If you do push-ups at home, the usual backpack can act as a load. A special weighted vest will also be a good purchase.
When push-ups with weights, it is especially necessary to follow the technique of performing the movement.
Simple options for beginners
In most cases, trained athletes and without outside assistance know what exercises they perform and how to provide a load on certain muscle groups. But what to do for those who are just starting their journey?
You can start with the development of push-ups from the points "on the chest" and "on the triceps", just do them with emphasis on the knees, not on the feet. Thus, it will be much easier to hold your body and gradually your muscles will be strengthened enough to switch to the usual, and then to the complicated technique.
Strive to increase the number of repetitions to 10–15 in at least three approaches. Then increase the load, for example, starting to perform the first approach in the standard technique, and the next two from the knees.
How many repetitions to do?
The number of repetitions and approaches depends largely on the role that push-ups play in your training program.
- If push-ups are one of the exercises that you use to gain mass of the chest or arms, then do 8-12 repetitions in 3-4 approaches. With the free execution of this volume, do the exercise with extra weight or master complicated options.
- If you need relief and burning excess fat, do 15–20 relatively fast reps in 3-4 approaches, in combination with other exercises.
- If push-ups are your main training exercise on the upper body, and the goal is not so much gaining mass as general strength and endurance, do the maximum number of repetitions and approaches. There are various programs and techniques aimed at increasing the number of push-ups.
Summing up all of the above, we can say that push-ups from the floor are far from obsolete atavism from school physical education lessons, but a whole range of various functional exercises that allows you to effectively work out the muscles of your upper body, develop strength and endurance. Train with pleasure and the results will not be long in coming!