Push-ups a great way to build all-around strength

When it comes to near-perfect exercises, it’s hard to top the push-up for building upper body strength.
You’ve probably known about pushups for as long as you can remember, first doing them in a gym class or during conditioning for a youth team.
As you get older, pushups can become even more important as they’re a way to build not only chest and triceps muscles, but the scapular and rotator cuff muscles as well.
If a person has sore shoulders from bench pressing, chances are it’s because the supportive muscles on the back side of the upper body aren’t acting as strong enough support systems.
The push-up has been called the closest thing to a perfect exercise – you use your own body weight and gravity to work multiple body parts.
Most people know that push-ups really work the chest and triceps, but when done with proper form the entire body is engaged from toes to the neck to hold the parallel position.
If you can’t do a perfect push-up, then “cheaters” can be beneficial too by keeping your knees on the ground and pushing your upper body up and down. Some people call those “girl” push-ups.
For people who really have conditioning issues, they can even do a modified push-up by standing and leaning against a wall and pushing off and then back. This puts very little strain on the elbows or wrists.
How to do a perfect push-up
Lay on the floor and straighten your upper back, shoulders, and arms and push up your body weight off the floor, then slowly lower it back down. Keep a straight line across your body. Repeat for numerous repetitions.
Make sure to use your arms and chest for power – don’t cheat by using your stomach or butt for extra help.
There are many push-up variations once you get the basics down, such as on the finger-tips, knuckles, wide-grip, close-grip, triangle grip with hands and off a weight bench.

At Home Fitness consultant Aaron Dorksen’s blog deals with a variety of fitness topics, ranging from workout tips, motivational ideas and feature stories on how exercise impacts people’s lives. E-mail him with comments, questions or ideas for future blogs at aaron@athomefitness.com