Health & Safety

January 18, 2013

Improving pushups simple routine using form, repetition

Staff Sgt. Jason Colbert
Michael Hunt, 56th Force Support Squadron fitness assessment technician, demonstrates a proper pushup Jan. 8 at Luke Air Force Base. The Air Force physical fitness assessment requires males and females to perform a number of proper pushups in one minute to prove their fitness level.

Being able to do a proper pushup is not only an integral part of one’s military career, but experts agree it also improves a person’s ability to accomplish daily tasks.

“Pushups help with everyday functional movements ranging from carrying groceries to babies and lifting a bag of dog food or moving large equipment or cargo,” said Sherri Biringer, 56th Force Support Squadron Fitness Center fitness specialist supervisor. “Additionally, it’s also important for Airmen since personnel who don’t meet the physical test standards don’t deploy.

Though it may be commonly thought that a pushup works just the arms, it actually does more than that.

“Pushups work the wrists, forearms, triceps, biceps, shoulders and core,” said Dion Perry, 56th Force Support Squadron lead fitness technician.

To do a proper pushup the individual should be prone with hands or fists on the floor slightly shoulder width apart. At the same time the legs cannot be braced, supported or crossed while keeping the body in a rigid head to heel form, according to Perry. The individual needs to go down and break 90 degrees with the elbows without locking the elbows. Once 90 degrees is broken the person pushes with the arms back up.

To increase the number of pushups one can do, Biringer recommends doing chest to deck or hand release pushups.

“In this version, the individual will touch the chest to the ground then lift the hands up by engaging the triceps and push back to full extension,” she said. “One can also add weight to the pushup by wearing a weighted vest.”

While some may find pushups easy to accomplish, others have difficulty. With practice strength builds and the number of pushups increases.

“If you can’t do a pushup, start with doing them on your knees with your feet crossed,” Perry said. “Then practice breaking 90 degrees, and as time goes by you will be able to do a proper pushup without being on your knees. It’s simply developing muscle memory with practice.”

For beginners, Biringer suggests adding pushups to one’s daily workout routine or fitting them in throughout the day.

“If you don’t have the time to work out then do ten pushups every hour in an eight-hour period,” she said. “By the time eight hours have passed you’ll have done 80 pushups. The Bryant Fitness Center also has personal trainers available to help fellow Thunderbolts achieve a pushup as well as warrior classes which have exercises that work the muscles needed to do pushups.”

If a standard pushup is not challenging enough there are pushup variations that provide different degrees of difficulty. One is a diamond pushup.

“The diamond pushup is the same as a standard pushup, except the hands are positioned under the middle of the chest,” Biringer said. “The hands are placed together with the tips of the thumb and index finger of one hand touching the thumb and index finger of the other hand. The pushup is performed like a normal pushup.”

Although some put off practicing pushups, Biringer suggests starting today.

“Get out and start working out,” she said. “Challenge yourself by signing up for a 5k run or a half to a full marathon. Make a pledge to yourself to never be that person who can’t pass or struggled to pass a physical fitness test. Don’t wait until tomorrow; the time is now.”

To make an appointment with a personal trainer or for more information, call the Bryant Fitness Center at (623) 856-6241.




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