In this third installment of our Exercise of the Week, we’re going to continue with simple bodyweight movements that must be practiced and mastered before progressing to more difficult exercises that will include resistance. We’ve talked about the Squat and Lunge, and how important posture and balance were throughout the movement.
A terrific upper body movement that also requires good posture and is an excellent movement to develop upper body strength and stability is the push-up. Everyone knows the push-up as an exercise to develop the chest, shoulders and arms, but it also requires good torso and shoulder girdle stability to perform the movement safely and correctly. Like any exercise, be sure to check with a qualified trainer and doctor before integrating these movements into your exercise program.
The push-up seems like a simple exercise, but it is very important to work on proper body stability throughout the motion. Keeping your entire body flat and stable throughout the movement requires good torso strength and endurance. It is not uncommon to see people that have poor abdominal and torso strength be unable to properly perform a push-up.
The start position requires you to have your hands about shoulder width apart, maybe slightly wider, just below your shoulders. Fully extend your arms underneath you, with your torso flat as a board. I should be able to draw a perfectly straight line from your heels, through your knees and hips all the way to your shoulders and back of head. No slouching, no arching of the hips.
Slowly lower yourself to the floor by bending your elbows. You should come within a few inches of the floor, roughly the size of an apple, before pausing, then pushing against the floor to return you to the starting position.
Common mistakes include not fully extended the arms in the starting position (doing halfway movement rather than all the way up), or arching/slouching the hips.
Don’t underestimate the value of being able to perform push-ups with perfect technique. I am more impressed with someone who has the ability to properly stabilize the torso and shoulder girdle throughout several repetitions of perfect push-ups than someone who can bench press their body weight.