Pushups seem to be one of those things that many people feel they either can’t do, “suck at,” or at the very least wish they could do more of. If you’ve ever wished you could do more (or even one!), this article is for you.
Before getting technical, let’s talk about the benefits of increasing your push-up load. Push-ups are one very effective way to increase your upper body strength with even only one version of this exercise. When done properly, pushups develop your chest, shoulders, triceps, abs, and even back muscles. As this happens, you’ll start looking, feeling, and performing better. As long as you’re eating right and otherwise living healthy, you’ll notice improvements in your muscle tone, and you will expend less effort while doing tasks requiring upper body strength such as lifting or pushing heavier objects. This in turn lowers your risk of back pain or other injuries because your developed upper body is able to take strain off other areas (and maybe also give you a rockin’ beach body as an additional perk).
The key to developing these targeted muscles, however, is to use proper form when doing pushups. Look at our animated friend below:
Notice how he keeps his back straight the whole time, not letting his lower back and hips sag toward the ground. To do so, he straightens his spine and tightens his abdominals, maintaining this form in both up and down positions. He achieves a full range of motion by going down until his elbows achieve a 90 degree angle/his chest touches the floor in the down position. We will then assume that he rises from this position back into the up position until his arms are full extended once again, and that he repeats this exercise until he can no longer maintain such good form.
But what if you can’t do even one push-up, perhaps because you’re not as generously muscled as our animated man? Or maybe you’ve been doing push-ups for a while and feel like you’ve plateaued and just can’t get past X number. Or maybe your wrists and arms hurt whenever you try to do a set.
These are all common setbacks, and these are all addressed by Perfect Fitness’ Perfect Pushup. The devices are essentially two inexpensive handles you place on the ground and hold onto as you do pushups. They differ from more traditional push-up handles in that the Perfect Pushup rotates as you go through a pushup’s range of motion, thus also working out assisting muscles that normally might be ignored in a traditional palms-on-floor pushup. The handles also elevate you off the floor by a few inches. These features result in your being able to do a pushup with full range of motion (chest all the way to the floor) while taking the strain off your wrists (your wrists are pointing straight down like the rest of your arm as you pushup and not bending as they touch the floor like during a normal pushup).
The Perfect Pushup comes with two handles and a workout chart included in the box. The chart is super helpful in motivating you to start a workout routine, as it asks you to do a max set of pushups to determine what a good number of starting reps is for you. From that point on, you then do a pushup workout every other day, generally consisting of a combination of regular pushups, wide pushups (arms spread further to your sides), tricep pushups (arms held closer together so your elbows touch your sides as you pushup), and chair pushups (pushups done with your feet elevated on a chair). Workouts for each type of pushup are done in two minutes or less, so your muscles only get little breaks in between sets. This pace ensures that even if you can’t do too many pushups, your muscles will get worked out hard each time.
But what if you can’t do ANY pushups? No problem! The Perfect Pushup has workouts for you too. They are organized identically to the one described above, but you do less reps and go on your knees as required. And just like the workouts tailored for people who can do 50+ pushups, you measure your max every 21 days to see if you can tackle more challenging workouts and thus continue growing. The best thing is that if you outgrow these included workouts or even just feel like a change, the developers’ website (www.perfectonline.com) offers several other workouts and videos to keep you interested.
Spicing up your training with these workouts will also prevent your body from developing muscle memory. Your muscles will be consistently introduced to new versions of pushup exercises, so no one muscle will ever get too familiar with doing the same motion over and over again. This will prevent your fitness level from plateauing.
With so much fitness equipment being advertised nowadays, it’s comforting to know that this particular device was developed by two people passionate and knowledgeable about sound fitness principles (one is a former Navy SEAL and a certified personal trainer, the other a former college athlete). I have owned the original basic version of this product for about eight months now, and I have seen firsthand how the Perfect Pushup was crafted by a company who really does care about manufacturing quality goods and incorporating fitness and health into people’s lives. Using this device consistently and supplementing it with other upper body strengthening exercises will most certainly help you increase the number of pushups you can do and your overall fitness level.
One thing the Perfect Pushup won’t give you, however, is motivation – this you must supply on your own and bring to every workout. However, its innovative design, easy-to-follow workout charts and helpful website will help keep you focused on fitness and personal growth.