Drop and give me fifty. If this phrase doesn’t make you cringe and trigger an urge to flee you were never in the military or in junior high or high school physical fitness classes. Here is a factoid for those of you who love such things, Paddy Doyle of the UK currently holds the Guinness World Record for the most push-ups done in one year. In 1988-1989 he dropped and pushed up 1,500,230 times!
While most of us will be lucky if we can perform 10 full body push ups, these old fashioned moves still remain one of the best ways to strengthen the upper body and increase muscle tone and endurance capability in the chest and shoulders. They are a great upper body exercise, no need to join a gym or buy expensive equipment; you can do these at home or in your rig, any time you want to increase your upper body strength.
ACSM (American College of Sports medicine has such high regard for push ups that they use a push up to test the endurance of upper body musculature. Wall push ups will develop your upper body strength and coordination, strengthening muscles serratus anterior, pectorals, anterior deltoid, triceps and abdominals. Push ups, as they develop muscular strength and increase muscle mass, also are a good osteoporosis prevention move.
I’d like to share a way to ease into the process, and offer you a push up that almost anyone can do.
Stand facing a wall and pull your body into good alignment, shoulders back and down, chest lifted, chin slightly retracted and stomach muscles tightened. Feet should be shoulder width apart, about 3 feet away from a wall. Using the muscles of the chest, lower the sternum to the wall and slowly back up. Take 4 counts to lower, and four to return to standing. Use slow controlled movements, and maintain spinal alignment. If the move seems easy and you can manage 10 repetitions without strain, move your feet further away from the wall and follow the same instructions. When 10 wall push ups are a piece of cake, graduate to using a countertop or sturdy table, then proceed to all fours push ups and one sweet day, to a full extended body military style push up.
Variations of the push up are endless, bring your fingertips in towards each other and involve the triceps, use one hand at a time to emphasize that side of the body, take the hands out wider than the shoulder width, turn the hands outwards, try them all. Come back after practicing the push up of choice 30-50 times every other day, and show me just how strong and powerful your front body looks. Better yet, take a before and after shot, so everyone can see just how worthwhile the good old fashioned push up can be.