Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Favorite "Suck It Up" Move for Upper Body: Push-ups

I will self disclose that I was not able to perform a regular push-up until this year.  I’d been doing modified push-ups (or if we want to be sexist – “girly” push-ups) for years, but I didn’t have the confidence nor ambition to try a “real” push-up until recently.  Not only did it build my upper body strength, it also boosted my fitness confidence. After all, the ability to do a push-up is a standard among fitness and strength assessments.  I don’t enjoy them, which is why it is a “suck-it-up” move, but they are great toners for the entire upper body, working the arms, chest, and shoulders.
If you are new to the push-up, definitely start with the modified version. Once you can complete several sets of 12-15 repetitions of the modified version, attempt at least one repetition of the standard push-up. Add the one rep push-up on the days when you complete your upper body strength building routine. After you can handle one push-up with good form, attempt two repetitions. Try to add one rep each week (i.e.  after 5 weeks, you can do 5 standard push-ups).
If you’re already a push-up pro, incorporate some variations, such as medicine ball push-ups, push-ups with single leg raise, or plyometric push-ups (where you explosively push off the ground and clap your hands together while your body is in the “up” phase).
Adding the push-up to your fitness regimen will help you sculpt and tone almost all major muscles in your upper body. In addition, keeping good form and contracting your abs while you perform the exercise is good for your core. It’s also great because it can be done anywhere… the gym, your home, a hotel, in a park, etc. Lastly, once you finally reach your goal, whether that be advancing to a more complex push-up or just being able to do 5 reps of the standard push-up, you just may end up feeling  like GI Jane or GI Joe. :-) Happy push-up-ing.

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