Many of us get caught up in the world of exercise trends and fitness fads. We buy cute workout clothes that match our running shoes, sign up for all the classes, pay for all the videos and all the rest that goes along with the consumer fitness industry. Unfortunately, after all of this, most of us rarely stick to whatever recent trend got us excited this time.
We keep paying the monthly gym fee, but rarely make an appearance there. We get so stuck in these kinds of cycles, that we immediately reject the idea that a simple technique could take the place of all the machines at the gym and the gadgets on TV– and that it can be done anywhere for free. That is the magic of the good old fashioned push-up.
When we think of push-ups, many of us immediately revert to the ideas of gym class from our youth. However, there was a reason that the P.E. teacher kept yelling for us to do one more– push-ups work out a number of different muscles at the same time, and they are actually one of the most beneficial exercises a person can do. Doing push-ups every day can take the place of several of the workouts you would do at the gym and will help you get into shape more quickly than just about anything.
Don’t worry; you don’t have to start out doing 100 at a time and clapping your hands as you go to get a beneficial workout from push-ups. Start slowly, and slightly increase the number you do each day. Eventually, you will associate push-ups with a hardcore workout and a sexy body, instead of conjuring up images of middle-school gym shorts and P.E. teachers. But if you need some convincing as to why you should do push-ups every day, here are just a few of the many reasons.
Strengthen Your Upper Body
The simple up and down motion of push-ups exercises your arms, chest and shoulders, and it will help you build upper body strength. When done correctly, it will also work out other muscle groups, specifically in the abs and quads. By progressively increasing the number of push-ups you do each day, you will increase your strength and build muscle without lifting a single weight.
Exercise Your Core
While the most obvious benefit deals with strengthening your chest and arms, every muscle group in your core is engaged when push-ups are done correctly. As your body is in a straight, horizontal position, the transverse abdominus and rectus abdominus engage and work to stabilize your spine. That is why the muscles along the side of your abdomen feel slightly sore after you have done a few push-ups. This helps to tone and tighten your abdomen without doing crunches.
Increase Bone Mass
As we get older, our bone mass naturally declines, making us more vulnerable to fractures. Weight-bearing exercises such as push-ups help to maintain bone mass and improve the overall strength of your bones. Also, because push-ups strengthen major muscle groups around the bones, the risk of fracture is greatly reduced. This is especially important around the joints in your wrists and elbows.
It may look a little strange to your coworkers in the office, but if you are feeling sluggish at certain points throughout the day, drop down and do a set of push-ups for a quick, natural boost of energy. Doing push-ups improves circulation and builds more heat in your body, firing up your brain and helping you to think and work more efficiently.
Because this simple exercise engages and challenges so many muscles at once, your heart has to work harder and your breath quickens. This will raise the metabolic rate in your body, burning calories and promoting weight loss. Combined with the strength and energy benefits, this makes for a great workout for your overall health and body composition.
How to Get Started
If you are not used to doing push-ups, start by simply doing as many as you can in a row. As soon as you feel the need to rest, stop and this will be your first set. The number of push-ups from that first set will be your original benchmark upon which you will improve daily by adding two. If you were able to do six your first time, do eight the next day, 10 the following day and so on. Even if you have to rest in between, increasing your number of push-ups by two every day is the best way to begin to get all the benefits listed above without overdoing it. Do this every day for a free, simple way to stay healthy and get in shape fast.