Push Up Benefits – Get More From Your Push Up Variations

Armhävningar / Push up / Press up / Militrarmhävningar 2

Push Up Benefits – Strong Pecs

Naturally the Push Up is one of the essential exercises for any workout without weights. Most of us think of the push up as primarily an exercise to build up chest muscles. In fact, there are push up benefits that go way past just working on your pecs and triceps.

Obviously, using push ups consistently will help sculpt your chest and shoulders. But there are additional areas that are worked and developed that most of us don’t consider when we’re doing them. In addition to the obvious, push ups work the abdominals, the upper back, and the core muscles of the spine. With this in mind pushups can do a lot for your mid-section and posture also. Let’s take a look at an obvious muscle push up exercises work, at least the ones we’re most familiar with.

Push Up Muscles – The Pectorals.
There are two portions of the pecs. However, doing standard push ups benefits the lower portion most. The pec muscles (at least the lower portion) are attached to your sternum. It’s where they have their origin. Then they travel across the shoulder joint and attach, or insert, on near the top of the upper arm.
The muscles work to push, rather than pull, heavy objects toward, or away from, the front of the body. Take for instance pushing a car, or throwing a chest pass in a basketball game. But these are just a couple of simple examples. The pecs are also involved in throwing and punching motions which make having strong chest muscles essential for activities such as martial arts, or sports that require throwing objects, like baseball, football, and track and field events.

Studies have shown that while the whole of the push up motion works the pecs, the greater degree of muscle force is generated in the lower position. This is where the body is heaviest. It really doesn’t matter is you are using the standard form or modified form of push up, even wall push ups. It has more to do with where the majority of your body weight is suspended against gravity.

Now, while this may be pretty much common sense when you think about it, however, keeping it in mind can will allow you to get more benefit out of your push up exercise routine. For instance, many people focus on the number of reps as a marker of their progress. This is pretty typical and is time honored. But there is a lot more that you can do with this information.

If more muscular force is generated in the lower position, this means that a greater percentage of muscle fibers can be recruited in this position. So, the longer you stay in this position, the more your work the total pec muscle. Let’s look at a few exercise modifications or suggestions to get more out of your push up routine.

Following are 3 methods to up your push ups.

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  • Slow Contraction Method – This method basically is a perpetual motion push up. Using a interval timer or just counting, slow the con/eccentric contractions down to about 5-10 seconds each. This will naturally reduce the number of reps in your set but will keep you in the lower position longer to work more of the muscle.
  • Static Contraction method – This is for the most part an isometric hold without the concentric and eccentric phases. Drop down to the lowest position and hold for a specific amount of time. Build up to your desired time. Add weight to your back, or shoulders to increase the resistance if needed.
  • Standard Plus Side To Side – Assume the typical push up position. Drop down normally and with your chest close to the floor. While you are in this lower position, shift your body toward one hand, and then the other. Then, return to start position. This particular variation keeps you in the lower position for a relatively longer period and isolates each side of the pecs with the weight shift from side to side.

These are 3 simple suggestions to up the push up benefits to your pectorals during your workout routine. There are many more and you are only limited by your imagination.

Keep Your Push Up Workout Consistent

Consistently doing push up benefits your total upper body and midsection. Focusing on working in the lower position has been shown to work the muscle harder by having to support more of your body weight. And, finally, you can add this principle to any of the push up variations that you might already be doing to get more out of it.


Read This Page For More Ideas On How To Modify Your Push Up Workout

Creative Commons License photo credit: Ulf Liljankoski

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23 thoughts on “Push Up Benefits – Get More From Your Push Up Variations

    • This one is a killer if you do it slowly and shoot for time under load. Rather than counting reps, just time your self to see how slow you can go rather than how fast you can go. The longer you keep the muscles loaded, the greater percentage of muscle fibers recruited to keep you going.

  1. Great reminder of how the simple push up can be used with such variety .. admittedly I do forget it at times but its always a winner when I need to think about body development… plus its a take any where exercise

    • You mention the “take anywhere” aspect of this particular exercise. It’s true. I don’t know if anyone else has had the experience of staying at a hotel that has no, or less than ideal, fitness amenities. And, it doesn’t even have to be a hotel. It could be traveling to family or friends, or, even camping. You can always get some ab, chest, arm, and even upper back work in by doing a variety of push ups.

  2. I’ve been doing standard pushups for quite awhile now (10 sets, 50 reps/set).
    Then I read this article and decided to try the “Slow Contraction Method” described above. That’s when I realized how weak I am =). After my first 3 sets (50 reps/set), I couldn’t go on. It felt like running a marathon while carrying a bucket of water. I thought my heart was about to jump out of my chest =). Good suggestion. I’ll start training using this method from now on.

    • Wow, Kirbs. 50 per slow set is intense. Rather than reps go for time. You should fatigue in about 3 min and 1 set is all you need. Try mixing it in with your regular schedule.

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