One of the best exercises that I rarely see anyone doing is the classic push up. I used to think that I had to pound out heavy bench presses every Monday, Wednesday, uh I mean Friday to build a big chest. Truth is, it is possible to build lean quality muscle using the classic push up. Not only can it help build coordination, burn fat and increase muscle mass, it can also be done anywhere.
But before I get carried away lets review what a good quality push up is, and isn't.
Here is POOR push up form:
Unfortunately when I do see a push up, it usually looks like that. One of the problems with this push up form is the elevated hips reducing the role of the core to stabilize. Also, pay close attention to the shoulder blades, they are pointed up towards the neck, this causes a 90 degrees arm angle with respect to the body. This places stress on the shoulder joint and doesn't allow max pectoral involvement.
A better push up looks like this:
Notice the shoulder blades and how now they are pointed down and retracted (closer together). The arm angle is now close to 45 degrees.
Alright, now that you know how to perform a proper push up, lets get fancy. The next push up I want to introduce is the Spider Man push up. This is one of the favorites. Get into basic push up form, then bring your knee your elbow during the decent. It looks like Spider Man climbing a wall. This decreases your body's base of support, and increases the role of the core to act as a stabilizer; and because there is now more mass higher up on the body your chest gets hit even harder! This is an advanced push up that requires a certain degree of core and upper body strength.
Spider Man Push Up:
The push up is a classic exercise and with a few tweaks and tools, it can challenge any one at any fitness level. Check back soon for more push up variations.