Weekly Wellness: The power of the push-up

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COLUMBIA - We’ve all endured them. The dreaded exercise called the push-up. The American English term push-up was first used between 1905 and 1910. Push-ups are a basic exercise used in civilian athletic training or physical education and commonly in military physical training. They are also a common form of punishment used in the military, school sport, and martial arts. Push-ups are an incredibly effective exercise that hit the pectoral muscles, triceps, and anterior deltoids, with ancillary benefits to the rest of the deltoids, serratus anterior, coracobrachialis and the midsection (core).

While we are all (more than likely) familiar with traditional push-ups, did you know that there are many different types of push-ups? It’s like a buffet of bodyweight exercises. I would like to introduce you to some of my favorites.

Traditional Push-up: Start in the straight arm (high) plank with your hands a few inches outside of your shoulders and your feet about hip-width apart. Bring your belly button in towards your spine to engage your core. Keeping your body in a straight line from head to heels, inhale as you lower your chest towards the floor and then exhale as you press back up to the starting position. You can also perform a basic push-up on your knees (sometimes referred to as a kneeling push-up). You will follow all of the same cues with the exception that you are on your knees and not your toes. This may require you to shift your hips forward and walk your hands forward so that you’re not sticking your butt up in the air. You want a straight line from your shoulders to your knees.

Narrow Grip Push-up: Start in a straight arm (high) plank with arms closer in towards torso and hands only a few inches apart under chest. Bend elbows and lower chest to the floor. Return to the up position by pushing against the floor. Bringing your arms and hands in closer allows your triceps to get a better workout.

Feet-elevated Push-up: Find a stable platform (like a box or bench or step). Position yourself in front of the platform, stepping your feet onto the platform. From the start of a traditional push-up (with feet elevated), bend elbows and lower chest to floor. Return to the up position by pushing against the floor. Being in a feet-elevated position allows you to work your shoulders a bit harder.

Rolling Tuck Push-up: Using an exercise (Swiss) ball, safely mount the ball with your feet on the top of the ball. Walk yourself out into the top of a push-up. Engage your core by pulling your belly button in towards your spine. Since you’re on a moving object (a round ball), make sure you feel stable before you begin your work. Once stable, lower your chest towards the floor by bending your elbows. Return to the up position by pressing against the floor. Once in the up (and starting) position, roll the ball in by pulling your knees in towards your chest (allowing the ball to roll until your ankles). Then roll the ball back into the original starting position.

There are many other variations to the traditional push-up. Just do a few searches online and see what you can find. My challenge to you is to try to complete 25 push-ups (in total) every day for a total of 25 days. I guarantee you’ll see a difference.