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Rachel Hart performs an elevated push-up for core strength.

Every so often, the History and National Geographic channels show segments related to military institutions or prison institutions. During certain of these scenes you would always see soldiers or prisoners performing push-ups. Have you ever noticed how well-built and powerful some of these soldiers and prisoners look?
The good, old-fashioned push-up has been around for centuries, yet it is one of the exercises most underrated by modern fitness enthusiasts. I smile when some men and women tell me they dislike weight training, and only perform cardio exercises. I always ask them if they perform push-ups. Most of them invariably answer yes. My second question to them is—“What do you think you are doing when you perform a push-up?” Performing push-ups is a form of weight training, whereby your own body weight is the resistance.

Muscles used in push-ups
The following muscle groups are engaged when performing push-ups:
Chest—The pectorals will face the largest strain when performing a push-up, and are in fact the primary mover.

Triceps—The triceps is one of the secondary muscle groups used while doing a push-up.

The Deltoids (shoulders)—The shoulders, specifically the anterior deltoids, are also effectively worked.
Abdominal and core muscles—In order to keep your body straight during a push-up, you must engage your core muscles. In addition, your upper back muscles are also actively engaged.

Push-up variations
There are quite a variety of push-ups that you can perform, which will place more focus on certain muscle groups. They include:
Narrow grip push-ups—This variation places a lot of emphasis on the triceps.

Feet-elevated push-ups—This type of push-up, performed with your feet elevated on a bench, will place more emphasis on your core muscles for stabilisation.

Clapping push-ups—This is a favourite with martial artists, as it builds speed and explosive power in the upper body. Try clapping twice before your hands hit the floor. Remember, this is an advance move for the very fit.

Finger push-ups—Again this is a favourite with martial artists for increasing grip strength. The late Bruce Lee regularly practised one finger push-ups.

Building push-up strength
If you are encountering difficulty in performing a push-up, try this method: Concentrate on lowering your body slowly to the ground from the elbow straight position; this will increase your strength on the negative part of the repetition. Don’t worry about pushing off the floor; that will be easy once you learn control on the descent. The reason some people fail during a push-up is because they can’t control the descent and their body literally drops to the floor.

By mastering the negative part of the repetition, you will soon be able to descend with control and then you can concentrate on the push-off action. When you have increased your push-up skill, try this advanced move: Assume the push-up position with your body kept straight and elbows bent. Now hold that position for five minutes. After one minute, the next four minutes will seem like eternity; you are going to sweat, and your body is going to shake as the various muscle groups attempt to maintain stability. Performing push-ups regularly can enhance the physique of men and women alike. Keep training.

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Tags: Push-ups, build, power

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