Body Weight Exercises - The Pushup

Pushups are probably one of the most well known exercises around. If you've ever taken gym in school you have likely done a pushup. The beauty of it is it's simplicity, how easy it is to adapt, and that you can do it anywhere. This post will explain the musculature involved in a simple pushup and ways to alter the way the pushup is done.

The Science-y Bit

Push-ups involve the following muscle and their actions:

Muscles
Actions
shoulder flexion
shoulder adduction
shoulder medial (internal) rotation
elbow extension
minimally assists shoulder adduction
shoulder flexion
minimally assists shoulder addution

Push-ups typically involve two major actions - elbow extension and adduction of the humerus. Pectoralis Major is the main target of the exercise, with an average activation of 95%. Triceps get an average activation of 75%.

The push-up also involves stabilizing muscles of the trunk, but I don't want to make this too boring for you all. If you are interested in all of that, then by all means, contact me. 

The Practical Bit

So, now that I've bored you completely, what's the big deal about push-ups? Well, as I mentioned earlier, they can be done pretty much everywhere. Granted, you're not likely to get down on the floor in the middle of your office to do a few push-ups, but the option is there

The are a compound exercise. Compound exercises are great because they are multi-joint and typically more functional than isolated exercises. For example, there are times when you would have to do a push-up to get yourself up off the floor if you happened to fall down, but when, in the real world, will you ever actually have to do a bicep curl?

Three simple Adaptations

Adaptation 
How it changes the pushup
From knees
Decrease length of lever arm and therefore percentage of body mass supported, making pushup easier. Appropriate for beginners.
narrow hand position
Increases activation of triceps, making in a more targeted exercise for arms
wide hand position
Increases angle for adduction and thereby requiring larger percentage of activation from pectoralis major. making it more targeted to chest

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