Is there ever a day that goes by when a new fitness trend isn’t coming or going? Despite the ever-revolving door of next-big-things when it comes to staying in shape, there’s a reason that push-ups remain a go-to exercise for trainers and fitness buffs alike. We could go on all day about the benefits of push-ups, but for now let’s focus on two of the best reasons to add them to your routine: 1. They work nearly every major muscle in your body; and 2. They require no equipment so you can do them anywhere.
Ready to incorporate push-ups into your workout? We’ll help you master this killer exercise.
First, there are a few problems most people have when doing push-ups that you should watch out for:
- Sagging hips
- Bent arms
- Lower-back pain
- Hands too wide
- Spine isn’t straight
- Failure to impress others with strength (that might just be me)
Rob Shaul, founder of the Strong Swift Durable training facility, says that in order to maintain perfect form, you should opt for the dead-stop push-up. This method keeps you from being able to “cheat” by relying on help from the stretch reflex that accompanies a series of fluid reps in quick succession.
Shaul calls the dead-stop push-up a “true test of strength,” according to Men’s Health. Here’s how you do it:
- Get into the up position with your feet and back straight. Arms should be below but wider than your shoulders. Spread your fingers out for stability.
- Lower your entire body to the floor. Your P.E. teacher back in middle school probably told you not to hit the floor. Go ahead and touch your belly to the floor; they’re not around to give you an F on your report card.
- Lift your hands off the ground.
- Push up with all of your strength.
That’s it. Here’s a video of the method in action:
The pause forces you to do a push-up using your full range of motion, keeping you from cheating.
If you can do 20 in a minute, that’s about average. Thirty is exceptional, 40 is all-star level, and 50 is hall-of-fame status.
There are two ways to incorporate these push-ups into your workout. One way is to test yourself at first, then do 40%-60% of your test reps. For instance, if you can do 10 dead-stop push-ups, for the next four weeks do four or six push-ups during your workout. Another way is to do as many as you can within a minute. If you stop after 30 seconds, rest for the rest of the minute (so 30 seconds). Keep doing this for 10 minutes, and you’ll be worn out.
As for perfect form, the easiest way to maintain it is to squeeze all of your muscles. Squeeze your butt cheeks together to keep your spine and hips straight. Tighten your core so you are more stable when you’re working out. And keep your feet together to provide more muscle tension.
These push-ups are twice as hard as regular push-ups, but you’ll gain more strength with fewer reps.