May 20, 2008

The power of the push-up

I know this will sound very strange to many people, but I love push-ups. I know that's crazy! I think they are one of the most effective exercises for your total body fitness. I didn’t always use to like push-ups nor was I able to do one. I can do real ones now. Yes, the man push-ups, but they are not just for men! While in Adventure boot camp, I was forced to do many, many push-ups and learned how effective they are for strengthening and toning.

Not only do push-ups work your chest and arms, they strengthen your shoulders, back, abs, glutes (butt), legs, and your core. Basically, it works and engages your entire body. It is cardiovascular, strength training, and stretching all in one. You can do it anywhere, you don’t need to go to the gym, and you don’t need any equipment. You can make it as easy or as challenging as you need it.

The New York Times recently dubbed the push-up as a symbol of health and fitness. Push-ups not only provide you strength but they can also help you as you age.

“Push-ups are important for older people, too. The ability to do them more than once and with proper form is an important indicator of the capacity to withstand the rigors of aging.

Researchers who study the biomechanics of aging, for instance, note that push-ups can provide the strength and muscle memory to reach out and break a fall. When people fall forward, they typically reach out to catch themselves, ending in a move that mimics the push-up. The hands hit the ground, the wrists and arms absorb much of the impact, and the elbows bend slightly to reduce the force.

In studies of falling, researchers have shown that the wrist alone is subjected to an impact force equal to about one body weight, says James Ashton-Miller, director of the biomechanics research laboratory at the University of Michigan.”

Okay, I know that not everyone can do a push-up but anyone can work their way up to one. Like much in life, it takes practice and work. But the results are definitely worth the work for your health today and for your future health.

If you can’t do a push-up from the floor, start off by doing a push-up against the wall or leaning against a countertop at a 45-degree angle and pressing up and down. You will build your strength and then you will be able to work your way down to the floor. On the floor, you can start with a modified push-up on your knees and then eventually work up to a full body push-up. What ever push-up you do make sure to keep your back nice and straight. Be careful not to sag or arch your back and remember to keep your movements smooth and controlled. Before you know it you will have a toned body and lots of strength. Now drop and give me 20!!:-)

Here are some resources on modified push-ups:
Mayo Clinic

Some resources on how to do a full push-up:

Photo Source: mikebaird on


  1. I marvel at your ability to do a pushup. I think I'm going to give them a shot. What could it hurt right?

  2. I have a love/hate relationship with push ups. I have gotten better at "girl" push ups, but can only do a few "boy" ones. I need more work on it!