The ultimate upper body exercise is the push-up, says Convict Conditioning author and coach Paul Wade.
It’s no secret that push-ups build strength and muscles, strengthen tendons and train the upper body to work in coordination with the mid section and the lower body. Wade advocates going back to the basics. He suggests a progressive variation of 10 different push-ups:
- Wall push-ups
- Incline push-ups
- Kneeling push-ups
- Half push-ups
- Close push-ups
- Uneven push-ups
- ½ one-arm push-ups
- Lever push-ups
- One-arm push-ups
Each of these push-ups is designed to work a different part of the muscle. Push-ups build the pectoris major, anterior deltoid, pectoris minor, and all three heads of the triceps. When doing push-ups, you should find a comfortable hand position. Keep your torso, hips and legs aligned. Keep your arms straight at the top of the movement, but not hyper-extended. It is also important to breath smoothly—out on the way up and in on the way down. Count two seconds down, with a one second pause, and two seconds back up.
The wall push-up
Wall push-ups are a good form of physical therapy. However, if you have any medical problems you should consult your physician. Find a wall. Facing the wall (with your feet together), place your palms flat against the wall. Your arms should be straight and shoulder width apart with the hands at chest level. Bend the shoulders and elbows until the forehead gently touches the wall. This is the finishing position. Press to the start position and repeat. Beginning: 1 set of 10; Intermediate: 2 sets of 25; Advanced: 3 sets of 50.
Find a secure or stable object (desk, tall chairs, work surfaces, or cell basin) that is about half your height and reaches the midpoint section of your body. With your feet together, lean over and grasp the object with your arms straight, shoulder- width apart. If the object reaches your midpoint, it should put you at about 45 degrees from the floor (This is the start position of the exercise). Bending at the elbows and shoulders, lower yourself until your torso gently touches the top of the object. Pause briefly before pressing back up to the start position and repeat. Beginning: 1 set of 10; Intermediate: 2 sets of 20; Advanced: 3 sets of 40.
Kneel on the floor with your feet together and your palms flat on the floor in front of you. The arms should be straight, shoulder-width apart, and in line with your chest. Link one ankle around the other and keep the hips straight and in alignment with the trunk and head. This is the start position. Using the knees as a pivot, bend at the shoulders and elbows until your chest is approximately one fist’s width from the floor. Pause and press to the start position, then repeat. Beginning: 1 set of 10; Intermediate: 2 sets of 15; Advanced: 3 sets of30.
From the kneeling position, place your palms on the floor and stretch your legs out behind you. Your hands should be about shoulder-width apart, directly below your upper chest. Your feet and legs should be together. Tighten your supporting muscles, so that your back hips and legs stay locked inside. Start with your arms straight. Lower yourself approximately half the length of your extended arms or until your elbows forms a right angle. An excellent way to establish how far to descend is to use a ball directly below your hips. This is the start position. Bend at the shoulder and elbows until your hips lightly make contact with the ball. Pause before pressing back to the start position. Beginning: 1 set of 8; Intermediate: 2 sets of 12; Advanced: 2 sets of 25.
The remaining exercises in the push-up series will be covered next month. We would like your input on this column and welcome any suggests, including future topics.