Friday, January 7, 2011

Flex your pecs!

Hate pushups? You're not alone. Most of us find them to be quite challenging, and that's not without reason. We lift about 75% of our body weight when we perform pushups, and that's part of the reason why they seem so difficult. But they're so very good for you. While the focus remains on your pectoralis majors, otherwise known as your chest muscles, the rest of your body is getting a good workout, too. Pay attention, and you'll probably notice your core and glutes tightening. Also your back, and I'm sure you feel it in your arms as well.

Think your pecs are too weak for pushups? Think again.

The pushup is a highly adaptable exercise that can be done in a variety of different ways. Like on or off your knees. Inclined or declined. Even with only one hand on the floor. But the pushup isn't the only chest exercise out there, I'll have you know. So next time you hit the gym, add one or two of the following to your repertoire of exercises. I'd certainly hate for you to ignore your pecs altogether simply because you're not a fan of the pushup!

1) TRIPLE-STOP BENCH PRESS: Load a barbell with a suitable amount of weight. Lie underneath
    the rack, or have a friend (or trainer) hand you the barbell. Lower it to your chest, press it to the
    ceiling. This extended position is your starting position. Now, lower the bar about two inches and
    pause for for two seconds. Lower the bar halfway, pausing again before bringing it down to right
    above your chest. Pause here for two more seconds, then extend your arms back to your starting
    position and repeat the sequence accordingly.

2) BENCH PRESS, HAMMER STYLE: (Hammer pants not required.) Channel your hammer curls in
    this bench press. Pick a set of dumbbells that will accurately challenge your chest muscles. Lie flat
    on a bench, then press one dumbbell to the ceiling. As you begin to lower it, begin to press the other
    toward the ceiling. Just like hammer curls, only you're chest pressing. Make sense?

3) INCLINE CHEST PRESS ON EXERCISE BALL: Grab a set of dumbbells and an exercise ball. Lie
    down on the ball so that your body is parallel to the floor. Drop your hips, keeping your butt off the
    ground while creating a nice inclined chest. With your palms facing away from your chest, press the
    dumbbells up toward the ceiling. Lower and repeat.

4) MEDICINE BALL PASS: Grab a medicine ball, find a partner or pick a wall that can support a
    slamming ball. Hold the medicine ball at your chest, then push with all your might to throw the ball
    at your friend (or the wall). Make sure you're really putting your chest into it, and not relying solely
    on your arms for power.

And just in case you like pushups, here's a variation worth trying:

5) PUSHUP PLUS: Perform a standard pushup, either on your knees or with your legs extended. When
    you return to your starting position, push your shoulder blades up to the ceiling. This will slightly
    round your upper back. Relax back to your standard starting position, lower into another pushup and
    repeat. Complete your desired amount of repetitions before relaxing. (This pushup variation
    challenges your serratus anterior even more than a standard pushup. This muscle helps support your
    shoulder blades, so its strength ultimately helps prevent overly forward shoulders and a slightly
    rounded upper back.)

If you truly don't like pushups, try not to give up on them completely. Remember—they're good for your core, back and butt, too. Pretty much your whole body, really. Just like a plank. So try them on occasion. At least use them to judge the increase in your chest strength!

Question: How many pushups can you do before your muscles completely fatigue?

No comments:

Post a Comment


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...