Everyone and anyone has heard of the push-up, right? If someone was to ask you to name an exercise, then the push-up would probably be high up on your answer list. However, how many of us actually know how to do a push-up properly?
When it is performed correctly, the push-up is one of the most effective exercises in any training plan and its different variations mean it can be performed by beginners and seasoned athletes alike to work those chest, shoulder and tricep muscles. All Mudders need a strong upper body to complete many of our trademark obstacles, so we have put together a comprehensive guide, as well as a cool vid from Tough Mudder Trainer Born Barikor, to help you perform the perfect push-up.
Before jumping straight into any exercise, it is vital that you warm up. After all, injuries are no fun for anyone. Born recommends three exercises to engage those upper body muscles:
- Arm swings 10-15 reps
- Speed Bag 10-15 reps
- Jack pushes 10-15 reps
Basic Push-Up Principles
One of the best things about push-ups is that they can be done from virtually anywhere and don’t require any equipment. No heavy weights or daunting machines, just you and the floor. Therefore, you really have no excuse but to incorporate them into your home workouts from now on.
Born runs us through the basic principles for every variation of push-up:
- Keep your back straight and core tight
- Keep your hands in line with your shoulders
- Stay on the balls of your feet for the whole exercise
- Keep your elbows tucked in
- Inhale as you go down and exhale when you push up
Get these fundamentals right and you’ll be well on your way to crushing this key move.
Beginners Incline Push-Up
The very idea of a push-up may send shivers down the spine of anyone who has never performed one before. Don’t fret though, Born has just the exercise for you: the incline press-up. Find a horizontal pole, use a sofa, or even the wall and press away from it for 9-10 reps, following the basic principles above. Phew, panic over. Thanks Born.
Ready to take that next step? Of course you are. Next, try the kneeling press-up. Get on your knees and simply push-up, again following those all important principles for another 9-10 reps. Mastered that? Ok, now you’re ready for the regular push-up.
So that’s all the build up done. You’re now ready to take on the real deal. Remember, all core principles remain exactly the same. Really fight that urge to bend your back or lift your bum up, and keep the push-up going in one fluid motion. For optimal results, Born says to perform 10-15 reps. Master this and you’ll be able to take on anything out there in the mud or any of the activities we throw at Mudder Nation through our 21-day virtual fitness adventure, Tough Mudder Challenges.
Regular push-ups too easy? Want to work yourself a little bit harder? Try these variations. Simply by changing your hand position, you can change the muscles that you work and take your workout to the next level.
- Diamond push-up: keep your hand close together and form a diamond with your index fingers and thumbs. The diamond really hits those triceps hard.
- Wide push-ups: To hit the chest a bit more, widen your hand position past shoulder width.
- Claps: If you are aiming for explosive power, then why not add a clap after pushing up?
- Knee touches: For those seasoned athletes out there, try and touch your knees after pushing up. This will get the heads turning in the gym or around the house.
- Superman: If you’re superhuman, then why not try a Superman push up? After pushing up, extend both your legs and arms and pretend you’re saving Metropolis. Disclaimer: only attempt if you have mastered the previous variations – please don’t blame us for any broken noses.
Mastered these and feel like you’re ready for the mud? Time to check out our event page and commit to a 2021 event today. Keep on pushin’ and we can’t wait to see you out there, Mudder.