PUSH-UPS ARE ALL YOU!
The other evening, we were watching football with our boys and I asked our 8-year old a question. He responded with, “ya”. Blame it my controlling nature, or my tiredness, but that short-answer-word drives me crazy, especially when speaking to an adult. So right there on the spot, I decided the next time our kids respond to a question without saying, “yes” (and preferably yes, sir or yes, ma’am), they will do 5 push-ups.
In all seriousness, in addition to using push-ups as a form of discipline, push-ups are one of the best overall exercises when performed correctly. To perform push-ups, follow these steps.
- Place your palms on the floor under your shoulders and knees under your hips.
- Extend your legs and feet behind you, toes dug into the floor, eyes looking 2-3" ahead.
- Keep your head in line with your spine. Your body should be like a strait line from your head to your heels.
- Lower your body 1-2” off the floor, keep your elbows by your side, do not let them flare out.
- Squeeze your chest, abs, butt and push-up to start position. Exhale as you push-up.
Note: If you need to modify, decrease the range of motion or drop to your knees until you build up strength.
Why are push-ups so beneficial?
1. Burn a lot of calories! Push-ups are a compound exercise, which means that it engages upper and lower body muscles. You stabilize from your head to your heels while in a prone (or plank position). The more muscles you engage in an exercise, the greater your calorie expenditure.
2. Improve your posture. Do you find yourself slouching at the computer, when driving in the car or standing around talking with your friends? Push-ups strengthen the chest, and core muscles. By strengthening these muscle groups, your body can support your shoulders and back for good posture.
3. Protect your lower back. When executed properly, the push-up engages your torso muscles. Strengthening the muscles that surround your lower back alleviates pressure from the lower back. Note: While performing the push-up, if you feel any pressure or pain in your lower back, stop immediately, check your form and take a break.
4. Push-ups are free and convenient. Push-ups can be performed anywhere, anytime and don't require a gym membership. It is really important to have “go-to” exercises that can help improve your overall strength, conditioning and emotional state of mind. Take 3-minutes out of your busy day, perform 3 sets of 20 push-ups each and see how amazing you feel.
5. Positive form of discipline. As a mom of four, I’m constantly looking for positive and gender-neutral ways to discipline our kids. Push-ups are one form of discipline we use in our home, and even our 2-year old can do a push-up (or at least attempt one)! Our 9-year old does push-ups when she forgets to put her belongings away. Our 8-year old will do push-ups when he forgets to answer “yes” to our questions. And our 7-year old will do push-ups when he speaks unkindly. As for me, I do push-ups in my 30-minute workouts.
Just like parenting, push-ups challenge your mental and physical toughness. And through consistency and repetition, you can become the strongest parent, physically and mentally.
P.S. Want an ego boost? Perform perfect push-ups! You deserve to feel proud and then reward your hard work with a pat on the back.
Niccole Maurici, University Park mom of four and former certified personal trainer, is the co-founder and creator of the StrongestMom.com website and fitness videos, which promote values important to moms: encouragement, support, positive thinking, and dedication. To learn more visit our website strongestmom.com.