Dear Fun and Fit: I am working on building some bulk — yes, I said bulk — in my arms and shoulders. As I get older, my skin is sagging a bit and I think building some muscle will fill it out a bit! So, I am doing push-ups as one of my exercises. But I can only do up to 10 real push-ups, and they are not very deep. Am I better to do more deeper push-ups from my knees or keep doing them from my toes and just trying to get my chest lower to the ground. Or does it matter? Thanks for your help. I love your vids. — Elle, Canada
Kymberly: Heads, shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes. Heads, shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes. Ears and eyes and mouth and nose. Heads, shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes. Is that song stuck in your brain yet?
Now to get to bid-ness! Thanks for the zippy question about push-ups, as we love them!
Start with full body (toe) push-ups with as full a range of motion (ROM) as you can muster up with good form. In other words, get the chest as close to the ground as possible with your hands fairly wide. Even if you do just one or two full-range push-ups, start there. As soon as you have to sacrifice form or range of motion, switch to incline or knee push-ups so you can achieve full ROM.
Take this approach for a week or two or five until you are up to a full set of full-body push-ups. At that time, still switch to the knee or incline ones once form goes, but take twice as long to push up as you did to drop down. For instance, count down for two counts, up for four. This rhythm change will tax the arm muscles you are wanting to target while still working the back, chest, core. You will soon look MAHVAHLUSS!
Alexandra: My sis did a good job explaining what to do right, so I’ll comment on some of the “unique” things I see my students do that we are sure you won’t! Use a mirror to be sure.
» Butts up like they’re advertising for the weekend
» Hands above the head, which strains the shoulder area
» Butts down like a worm, which compresses the lumbar area
» Hinging from the hip and touching the forehead to the floor (quick anatomy tip: Your chest is not in your forehead)
» Calling them boy and girl push-ups, which makes us irritable
Remember, knee push-ups are real push-ups — fair and square! For even more exciting (beyond belief) push-up ideas, take a look at our Patriot Push Ups post.
Readers: How did you work up to full-body push-ups?
Saaay, while you’re here, why not subscribe to our YouTube channel?