Muscles Targeted: Push ups do wonders to strengthen the muscles in the chest, shoulders, triceps, back, core, legs and even your toes get into the picture. It’s also a very good core exercise that works abdominal, oblique and hip flexor muscles. Because the push up is done with the hands on the ground, this is a unique pushing exercise that can strengthen the hands and wrists.
Exercise Advice: Begin with the hands about shoulder width apart with your fingers pointing forwards or slightly inward. Keep your entire body straight and stiff by bracing your abs and tightening your quads. It’s also helpful to tighten the gluteus muscles in your butt to add more core stability. Lower yourself down to the floor by bending at the elbow joint while keeping your whole body tense and stiff. Pause when you’re an inch or two from the floor or when you’re touching the floor but not resting on it. Press yourself back up by straightening your arms until they are straight but not locked out.
Things To Avoid: The key to a great push up is to have no movement in your body except at the elbow joint. Your hips, chin, chest and forehead shouldn’t sag as if they were reaching for the floor. Also keep in mind where your elbows track during each rep. Ideally, your elbows shouldn’t stick out to the side. Keep them close to your rib cage or let them rest at about a 45 degree angle at your shoulders. Be sure they track in a straight line through your range of motion. It’s not uncommon for the elbow to “circle” by moving outwards as the body is pressed up from the floor.
Reps and Sets: The push up lends itself well to between 3-5 sets, but even a single set can be good for warming up at the start of a workout. Repetitions depend on your strength levels but between 10-15 reps is a great range to work in.
Other Exercises To Use: Pair the push up with the bench press or pectoral flys to add intensity or emphasis on the chest muscles. The push up also goes well with dips and shoulder presses for more upper body pressing strength.