Twenty five ways to do your press-ups
The humble push-up is one of the most effective all-body workouts you can perform. A Pilates instructor shows 25 variations of the exercise
It's simple, can be done anywhere and no equipment except your own body is needed. Basic as it may seem, the push-up is one of the best exercises for any fitness regimen.
Granted, it can get monotonous and boring doing push-ups over and over again. So, Pilates instructor Jason Clark of PilatesAthlete has created a circuit of 25 variations of the exercise.
By simply narrowing or widening the position of the hands, different areas of the arms and back can be targeted, says Clark. Changing the incline of your position, or the stability of the surface you're resting on, can also add intensity and challenge.
"Having push-up options will also offsets your training when your muscles plateau, as you can do alternative versions at different times. Then you can come back to previous versions when you plateau again," he says.
Push-ups, along with movements such as dips, lunges and squats, are forms of body weight training - the top fitness trend for this year, according to health and fitness professionals surveyed by the American College of Sports Medicine.
"The push-up seems to be having a resurgence in popularity at the moment - and there is good reason," Clark says. "The push-up is an exercise that can provide a complete workout for most muscles in the body."
The push-up strengthens and builds definition in the shoulders, chest, arms, legs, thighs, back and the abdominal and postural muscles, he says. It also improves structural imbalance in the body, which reduces injury risk, and gives you more power and strength to do other exercises as well.
"Our lifestyle and tendency to sit at desks or hunched over computers for long periods of time has meant that often the muscles that link the vertebra, core muscles, shoulders and back are weak. A push-up, done correctly, can strengthen these muscles and correct our neutral spine and posture."
It also has benefits for your heart. Doing 20 minutes of interval training with push-ups, Clark says, is equivalent in cardio effort to 60 minutes of jogging at a constant pace.
Compared to strength training with weights, the push-up works the origins and inserts of muscles, and small muscles and ligaments, which are often underworked with weight training, he says.
The push-up is just as effective for building chest and arm strength as the bench press, a study published in January in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research reveals.
Scientists at the University of Valencia's Laboratory of Physical Activity and Health in Spain put 30 university students with advanced resistance training experience through five weeks of training. They were divided into three groups: bench press, push-up against elastic band resistance, or a control group.
The bench press and push-up groups had to perform a six repetition maximum - in other words, at an intensity whereby six repetitions would be the maximum one could do.
At the end of the training period, it was found both exercises provided similar muscle strength gains in the students.
For the full 25 positions, visit scmp.com\pressups to watch the video.