Doing push ups, (or press ups, if you prefer), is a great way to get stronger and it doesn’t require any equipment whatsoever. When performed correctly, it’s an exercise that builds optimal upper-body strength in the chest, shoulder and arms. Last year, a study in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research found the traditional push-up to be as effective as a bench press for building chest and arm strength. When trained athletes performed a six-repetition maximum of both the push-up and bench press exercises, the muscle-building results were the same.
But its benefits don’t end there. The push-up engages abdominal muscles for stability, but also recruits the lower back, gluteal and leg muscles to keep the lower body lifted, making it an excellent addition to your running training and another reason as to why you should do pushups.
Additionally you can adapt your pushups to make them most effective for your specific training goals. Here are some variations:
The Classic Push Up
- Start on all fours with hands slightly wider than shoulder width apart and palms flat against the ground
- Try your best to keep your head and neck in line with your back
- Extend your legs so they form a straight line with your back, keeping your hips level
- Bend your elbows to 90-degrees towards the ground, engage your core and breathe in as you bend your elbows
- Straighten your arms to push yourself back up. Try not to bend your knees and keep your hips level throughout.
- Tip: If you find this challenging, keep your knees on the ground whilst you do your pushups.
The Diamond Push Up
- Start in a classic push up position, as explained above
- Place your hands directly under your chest so that the tips of your index fingers and thumbs are touching. Your fingers and thumbs should form a triangle shape
- As you inhale, bend your elbows out to the sides and lower your chest towards the floor. Then exhale as you straighten your arms
The Rotation Push Up
- Assume the classic push-up position with a straight body from ankles to head.
- Lower the body by bending the elbows and, as you come up, rotate your body so your right arm lifts up and extends overhead. Your arms and torso should form a T-shape.
- Return to the starting position, lower yourself, then push up and rotate till your left hand points toward the ceiling.
- Repeat, alternating from left side to right side.
Push ups can be a really effective addition to your running training, and hopefully with these simple twists, they will be even more useful in helping you achieve your goals. For more great training tips, have a look here.