Preamble

Hey guys, how are you doing? In this post, we are going to discuss push-ups. I am sure that everyone has already heared of this, and knows pretty much how it is done. But it surprises me time and again how people can be mistaken in what the correct form is. Usually, people are also quite unaware about what muscles it exactly trains, or how effective it really is. To clear the misconceptions that may be circulating, I want to provide some information here on how push-ups are performed correctly, and what it actually does. Rest assured, they are one of the most effective exercises out there, so you should really start with them asap! In this article you will discover why.

Muscles Trained with Push-Ups

So, what muscles do you train exactly by doing push-ups? I’m glad you asked. It trains a lot of muscles actually, and this is exactly the reason why push-ups are used a lot in the military to train the cadets. It is also one of the secrets of many martial arts, as a technique to whip the students into shape. If you know all the muscles that are trained with push-ups, hopefully you will understand how important this exercise can be.

First of all, it trains the pectoral muscles. If you want your chest to look firm, then doing daily push ups is a great way to keep them in shape. Especially doing the push up with a wide grip is very good for your chest. We will come back to the narrow grip push up in a second, and reveal what muscles that targets.

But first, I want to talk  a sec about the other muscles that you train. You also work out the deltoids. Those are your shoulders. Note that your shoulder muscle is a pretty big muscle. It is basically the size of your chest, and your chest is also a big muscle in your body. Working out multiple big muscles simultaneously is already a pretty heavy exercise, just to paint the picture.

So, we have push ups training your chest and your shoulders, which are already big muscles. It also trains the serratus anterior muscle. You probably never heard of this one. Take a look at the first image below to see where it is. You can see this muscle very nicely with gymnasts at the Olympics for example. It also trains the coracobrachialis which can be seen in the image to the right.

Push-ups serratus anterior
By Bildbearbetning: sv:Användare:Chrizz. CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=239312
Image in public domain

The final muscle it trains is your triceps. You probably already know where it is, but just for reference you can find it in the image below. The triceps are really important if you want to be able to lift a lot of weight at the gym, for many exercises. So, this is also the muscle that the narrow grip push up targets the most. If you want to give your triceps a good working out, build some strength and muscle there, then you should do the narrow grip. If you want to train your chest more, you should do the wide grip. And of course your shoulders and other muscles are trained as well, with both these variations. You can alternate between these two, do the narrow grip one day, and the wide grip the other day. If you keep doing this every day, you will inevitably see results in the way your muscles look and how much strength you have. If you are really motivated, you can even do it twice a day, once when you wake up and before you go to sleep. If you keep this up, you can easily reach 50 push ups in a row within a few months. I’m going for the hundred now, let’s see if I will make it.

By Anatomography - en:Anatomography (CC BY-SA 2.1 jp, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=27447079)

Different Varieties of Push-Ups

Regular

The Regular push-up looks like this (the video below), with your arms around shoulder width. You need to keep your entire body straight, otherwise the form is not correct. I see a lot of people arching their back, or even bending it the other way. You will not train your muscles as effectively if you do this. For example, if you arch your back, you will do more work with your arms and also the rest of your body. So your chest will not really be worked out. Furthermore, try to keep your feet close together.

Wide grip

This one trains your chest more instead of your triceps and shoulders. You can make this variation on certain days if you wanna work out your chest. Again, try to keep your back straight, and feet close together.

Diamond

This push-up is designed to target your shoulders and triceps more. Pick this one if you want to train that area. You do it by putting your hands close together, and making a diamond shap with your thumbs and index finger.

Staggered

The final one is called the staggered push-up and focusses more on one single side of your chest. You place one arm more to the front and the other one further back. Alternate you arms to do the other side as well.

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