There aren’t many exercises that engage almost every muscle, burn calories and work your core all at once, but push-ups are certainly one of them. This foundational exercise is so powerful, so versatile, that they’re found in almost any well-rounded, full-body workout.
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Here are some great reasons to drop and give 20 (or more!), every single day.
1. They Require No Equipment
Many exercises require equipment, and this limits when and where you can perform you the move. For example, to do a bench press, you’ll need a barbell, a bench and (ideally) a spotter. But push-ups don’t require any equipment at all, and don’t need much space, either. This means that you can bust out a few push-ups just about any time you’re in the mood do them. Try completing a set of push-ups first thing when you first get up in the morning to get thee blood pumping. Or, if you’re on the road, you can do push-ups in your hotel room and not let travel throw you off your exercise groove.
2. They Can Be Done Anywhere
Not only do push-ups not require equipment, they also don’t require much space. Even if you work in a cubicle, there’s a good chance that you could get in a few push-ups if you roll your chair out of the way. This is a great way to get some exercise and keep your heart rate up while you’re at the office.
If you’re self-confident enough, you can do push-ups in the hall between classes, at the bus stop, or even while you’re at home just watching TV. Of course, you might not choose to do push-ups in all of these places, but the point is that you can, which makes it great for squeezing in a little exercise when you unexpectedly have a little time on your hands.
3. They Build Upper Body Strength
One of the main benefits of push-ups is that they’re great for your upper body. They obviously are good for your chest, but they also work your shoulders and triceps, making them an ideal exercise for swimsuit season. The best part about push-ups is that they target multiple upper-body muscles at once, including ones you may not usually target, such as your back. This makes for a much more even, holistic workout than say, endless dumbbell curls.
4. They Strengthen Your Core (Without Crunches!)
One of the surprising benefits of push-ups is that they actually can be great for your core strength. If you do a push-up with perfect form and hold it at the top of the exercise, you’ll reap very similar benefits as a plank. According to Martin Rooney, author of Training for Warriors: The Ultimate Mixed Martial Arts Workout, push-ups will give you “the same core work while also building some strength, burning more calories, increasing mental toughness and creating the confidence that comes along with it.” Not bad.
5. You Can Really Do Them Every Day
There are definitely some exercises you don’t want to do on a daily basis, such as supersets of deadlifts or heavy leg presses, but some experts suggest adding push-ups into your workout every day. In the “grease the groove” method, you do half your maximum number of push-ups multiple times a day. This helps you increase the amount of work you can do, but it also helps you to avoid overworking yourself. If you do decide to do push-ups every day, make sure you take rest days from time to time, and watch for signs of overtraining. If you find that you experience symptoms such as reduced appetite, difficulty sleeping, decreased performance, increased stress, or increasing soreness, consider resting up, as you may be suffering from adrenal fatigue.
6. There Are Plenty Of Variations To Choose From
Variation is one of the keys to avoiding burnout and keeping exercise interesting. With push-ups, there’s an almost infinite number of variations. If traditional push-ups are too difficult, try doing them from your knees for an easier exercise. If a traditional push-up is too easy, you can try working up to one-armed push-ups. There are also leg-kick push-ups, knee-to-opposite-elbow push-ups, triangle push-ups, tiger push-ups, and much, much more. All of these variations can help you get a variety of different push-ups benefits and can help keep your workouts engaging.
It is important to keep balance in the body. While there are a lot benefits of push-ups, if you don’t work the opposing muscles, your body can become unbalanced, which can lead to joint pain and impaired posture. You should ideally mix up your push-ups with pulling exercises that will strengthen the muscles of your back, your lats and your biceps. This can include motions like pull-ups and rows. Performing exercises like this in addition to push-ups will help you to keep your upper body balanced and healthy and give you the greatest benefits from your exercise.