The mighty push-up or press-up as known in some countries. A great FULL body exercise used by many personal trainers and fitness professionals across the world. Most people know it as a chest exercise, which it is...but it can do so much more when done correctly. When done in a high plank position, the body needs the core, glutes, anterior delts, triceps and hamstrings to stabilize the position. So why are so many people doing the ‘lady’ version...when your knees are on the floor?
To me, the ‘lady’ push-up seems counterproductive and sexist to say the least. Why should this version be named after us? AND why are we still doing them? Not only does it take out the lower body element, makes it really tough to activate your core effectively, but it also renders it seemingly impossible to progress into a full push-up.
Follow these simple progressions to help you through any phase in your life;
The wall push-up – A GREAT exercise to use when you are pregnant as you can activate your core without adding to much pressure to your abdominal wall. It uses your full body whilst strengthening and toning your upper body. For an added challenge, use a stability ball between you and the wall. Not only can you do this when pregnant but if you suffer from Diastasis Recti (DR) too. Include these into your program once you have completed a few foundation moves and can effectively activate your core muscle group.
The incline push-up – Once you find the wall push up easy and you are not pregnant, you can progress into the incline push-up. The great thing about the incline push up is you can pick a level that suits you and adapt it as needed. Most people have a staircase in their house and this is where I tell most of my clients to do their push-ups. Pick a step that is challenging but where you are able to maintain form and reduce the level when needed until you no longer need a step. This is by FAR the best way to learn how to do a full push-up.
The full push-up – Not an easy move and not to be done if you suffer from DR or are pregnant as it can increase the gap between your abs (stretching the linea alba). The key here is to keep your bum down, but not dipped (maintain a flat back by pulling your abs in towards your spine). Don’t T your arms out to the side, keep a 20-40 degree angle from your torso to your upper arm (this applies to ALL push-ups explained above). Lower as close to the ground as possible, PAUSE and return to the top.
The decline push-up – Not for the faint hearted! Definitely an advanced move for us mamas who are well beyond our postpartum phase and have zero separation of the abs. I’m not great at them myself but it is something I’m working on. Adding a step to your feet will increase the use of shoulders and upper chest.
Have fun with exercise and don’t be afraid to try new things…If you HATE push-ups because they are so hard, try one of these versions to keep you on track!
Eden trying to do a push-up and telling daddy he had to do one too…she is a great ring leader and hopefully one day will be a great leader! Lead by example mamas!