Push ups are vastly underestimated in the world of fitness and bodybuilding. They are a highly effective way to strengthen your chest, back, arms and core, whilst improving balance and posture. Push ups can be used as a sole exercise, or as a complementary exercise on chest workout days at the gym. They can be performed anywhere without any equipment, and with the correct technique and variations in form you’ll be able to reach a variety of muscles.
As with most workouts, the number one thing to remember is to keep your spine straight and your neck in line with your back. There should be no tension in your shoulders or neck.
In the most basic form of the push up you keep your hands level with your shoulders. Try to imagine that you’re doing an inverted bench press and holding an invisible bar. As with the bench press, you need to keep your shoulder blades pinched together, tighten your abs and gluts and keep your chest thrust outwards during the pressing motion.
To ease the tension on your wrists you can grip dumbbells during the push up. This will increase the range of motion and allow for a better stretch. Alternatively you can perform the push ups on your fists. This has the additional benefit of conditioning your knuckles, which is useful for martial arts that involve punching without gloves.
The further apart your hands, the easier the push up. However, if you want to reach your chest more effectively, you need to bring your hands down towards your chest and inwards. This will target the inner pectoral muscles and give you a broad chest. For this you can bring your thumbs and forefingers together in what’s known as a ‘diamond’ pushup.