The push-up is a classic exercise, simple to do yet so rewarding to body and mind.
Interestingly, the push-up is the go-to exercise of so many situations and places. You’ve got the military, where they drop to the ground and push-up for punishment, sports teams train with push-ups all the time. And then you have working-out, where push-ups are all you need to build a muscular chest and shoulders, no gym or weights required!
Goodbye Gym and Bench Press!
For me, long gone are the days where I’ll measure up against others or myself in the gym. “Benching” as they call it from the bench press, is one of the most dangerous weight training exercises you can do in the first place.
There’s a constant risk of injury to shoulders, elbows, and even your core or groin. Pulling muscles or injuring joints while benching is commonplace. You can read some science on the “alarming frequency” of injury due to bench pressing here.
Longer-term injuries include:
– Joint damage and arthritis
– Hernias in your belly or groin area are possible, due to the overstraining
The come back of the Push-Up.
In the last 4 years, I switched pretty much all of my training to bodyweight only, using my body as my gym. The primary reason for this was, well, I realized my body was all I needed for a super-strong workout.
Additional bonuses I discovered along the way.
- I workout outdoors in nature while walking
- Fun to challenge yourself to beat your maximum reps
- You build more “core animal strength” (raw strength)
- More fun working out with your bodyweight
- Almost zero risks of injury
On top of that, you have many many variations of the push-up that you can challenge yourself to once you reach a decent base level with the classic push-up.
So what’s that base level?
For men, aim to complete a push-up session of 50 reps times 3 sets.
For women, aim to complete 30 reps or close to, times 3 sets.
Once you reach that level, you are strong and have a solid base. From here you can go further with the alternatives which I’ll get into later.
Let’s see what the push-up does for us.
The Benefits of the Push-Up.
- Builds Upper-Body Strength
- Works Triceps, Pectoral, and Shoulder Muscles
- Supports Core, Lower Back, and Legs
- Burns Fat
- Supports Heart Health and Cardio System
- Great for Back Support
- Saves Time
- Improves your Posture
- Helps Prevent Injury to Shoulders, Chest, and Wrists
- Increases Testosterones Production
- Increases Human Growth Hormone (HGH) production, which leads to Stronger Muscles
- Builds Determination and Willpower
- Calms the Mind
So, once you’ve mastered the classic push-up and can complete a full session of 50 (men) and 30 (women) times 3 sets, go for the advanced push-ups. You can aim to build more strength, muscle, agility, and increase your willpower!
- Reverse Incline
- One Hand
- Jumping Clap
- Negative S
Those four variations are the hardest to do, with the one hand push-up being the toughest by far. You can progress with the reverse incline pretty quickly, which is excellent for the upper chest and shoulders.
I love the jumping clap push-up as it’s a big challenge to succeed with ten to fifteen reps, but when you do, it feels great!
The negative or static push-up, meaning you go into the lowered position, don’t move and hold as long as you possibly can. It’s super hard to hold this position for a decent length of time. Aim for a minute, but I assure you that 20 seconds will seem like an eternity at first!
Get down on it folks, and get down and dirty with the good old push-up routine, and Push Yourself to New Heights!
One more thing; Safety and Heart Health.
If you are going to make the push-up a part of your strength training workout routine, please make sure you combine it with other bodyweight exercises. I recommend you complete a full bodyweight session (push-ups, planks, squats, and pullups, or other exercises) no more than two to three times per week.
Please don’t overtrain, as that would hurt your heart. Plus, your muscles need rest and time to rebuild again, stronger.
Thanks for reading, and please let me know your comments and questions.
Former Olympic Athlete, Writer & certified Health Coach.
“It is my mission to educate people on how to lose weight, how to build a healthy, strong heart, body, and mind, supporting a longer life.”