Push-ups are a widely performed exercise that is favored by people from all walks of life, including soldiers, elite athletes, and high-school kids. However, some personal trainers prefer bench presses for their more experienced clients, considering push-ups to be a beginner exercise. But as an ex-powerlifter and bodybuilder, I am not one of those trainers. In fact, I believe push-ups are an awesome exercise that can teach you how to stabilize your entire body and lift your own body weight comfortably. They are more functional than bench presses and can be done anywhere and anytime, making them the ultimate excuse-free upper body workout.
It is interesting to note that push-ups and bench presses use the same muscle activation pattern. Studies also indicate that push-ups can be effective for building muscle mass and strength. So, contrary to popular belief, push-ups are not inferior to bench presses. However, to get the most out of push-ups, it is important to do them regularly and follow a structured routine.
With that in mind, I have developed a tried-and-tested 6-week program for push-up mastery. This program will not only turn you into a push-up ninja but also help you build muscle in your chest, shoulders, and triceps. Before we dive into the program, let’s ensure we are all familiar with the correct form for push-ups.
To perform a push-up correctly, start by kneeling down and placing your palms flat on the floor, shoulder-width apart. Rotate your arms slightly so that your elbows are pointing backward, which engages your upper back and stabilizes your shoulders. Walk your feet out and back until your legs and body are straight. Brace your core and contract your quads and glutes to stabilize your lower body. Bend your arms and lower your chest to within an inch of the floor, keeping your upper arms close to your body. Do not drop your head towards the floor and keep your neck neutral. Pause for a second with your chest just above the floor, and then extend your arms to return to the starting position. That’s one rep.
To maximize the effectiveness of push-ups, remember to inhale as you descend and exhale as you return to the starting position. Imagine pushing the floor away rather than lifting your body. You can make push-ups more manageable by bending your legs and resting on your knees, or more challenging by raising your feet or using handles or blocks to increase your range of motion.
Push-ups are a compound upper body exercise that involves multiple joints and muscles working together. They primarily target the pectoralis major (chest muscles), deltoids (shoulder muscles), triceps brachii (upper arm muscles), core muscles, and even the lower body when tensed. To make push-ups safer and more effective, it is important to tense your lower body and maintain stability throughout the exercise.
Now that we understand the basics of push-ups, let’s move on to the 6-week program for push-up mastery. This program is designed to improve your push-up performance while building and strengthening your chest, shoulders, and triceps. Before starting the program, it is important to spend a few minutes warming up your muscles and joints with easy cardio and dynamic mobility exercises. Additionally, activate your upper back and stabilize your shoulders with a couple of sets of band pull-aparts. Finally, practice and perfect your push-up technique with 1-2 submaximal sets.
The program consists of progressive overload, meaning that the intensity and volume of the exercises will gradually increase over the 6-week period. Each week, you will perform three push-up workouts with a day of rest in between. The number of sets and repetitions will vary depending on your current level of strength and fitness. It is important to challenge yourself but also listen to your body and avoid overexertion or injury.
Throughout the 6-week program, focus on maintaining proper form and technique. If you find yourself struggling with the prescribed number of repetitions, modify the exercise by performing push-ups from your knees or against an elevated surface. As you progress, gradually decrease the modifications until you can perform full push-ups with ease.
Remember, consistency is key. Stick to the program and push yourself to improve each week. By the end of the 6 weeks, you will notice significant improvements in your push-up performance and upper body strength. So, get ready to become a push-up ninja and build some serious muscle!
(Note: This article does not endorse or promote any specific brands or products.)