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Manic Monday ~ THE Push-up

There is one exercise that our Zimmerman clan loves to compete with. It’s not a sprint race. It’s not the highest vertical jump. It’s not pull ups. It’s...... PUSH UPS! It’s the strangest thing to see my kids try to out do each other in the amount of full pushups they can perform before the fall on their face with true exhaustion. And when I say exhaustion, I mean truly.... muscle shaking, grunting, red balloon faced exhaustion. Each kid just HAS to our do the other one for bragging rights. It’s a never ending event. It’s been a good competition to have as my husband and I find ourselves wanting to participate (for the excitement... not necessarily for the effort required). And we have a had our share of temporary muscle soreness due to the amount of pushups we have performed. The benefit though is that I believe it has made us all a little more stronger. Besides the push-up being an exercise our clan competes with, it’s an excellent exercise to implement in everyone’s strength regime.

The push-up involves quite a few upper body and core muscles. While the push-up primarily targets the muscles of the chest, arms, and shoulders, support required from other muscles results in a wider range of muscles integrated into the exercise.

Here is a detailed description of how to perform a push-up:

Step 1

Starting Position: Kneel on an exercise mat or floor and bring your feet together behind you.

Step 2

Slowly bend forward to place your palms flat on the mat, positioning your hands shoulder-width apart with your fingers facing forward or turned slightly inward. Slowly shift your weight forward until your shoulders are positioned directly over your hands. Reposition your hands as needed to allow full extension of your body without any bend at the hips or knees. Stiffen your torso by contracting your core/abdominal muscles ("bracing"), your glute and quadriceps muscles and align your head with your spine. Place your feet together with your ankles dorsiflexed (toes pointed towards your shins).

Step 3

Downward Phase: Slowly lower your body towards the floor while maintaining a rigid torso and head aligned with your spine. Do not allow your low back to sag or your hips to hike upwards during this downward phase. Continue to lower yourself until your chest or chin touch the mat/floor. Allow your elbows to flare outwards during the lowering phase.

Step 4

Upward Phase: Press upwards through your arms while maintaining a rigid torso and head aligned with your spine. For extra strength think about pushing the floor away from you. Do not allow your low back to sag or your hips to hike upwards. Continue pressing until the arms are fully extended at the elbows.

Step 5

An alternative position is to turn your hands to face forwards and keep your your elbows close to your sides during the downward phase. This shifts the emphasis from the chest muscles onto the triceps and may reduce stresses in the shoulder joint.

Pushing through the heel and outside surface of your palm provides greater force in your press and stability to your shoulders.

Perform pushups to exhaustion for at least 1-3 sets and 2-3 times per week with at least 48 hours of recovery.

Have you performed a push up lately???

Have a GREAT week!

~ Rachel Zimmerman

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