Pushups are a valuable exercise for building muscle in the upper body. Primarily targeting the chest, shoulders and arms, pushups use your own body weight as resistance, allowing you to complete more repetitions the stronger you get. As a 14-year old, shoot for 100 pushups performed in as few sets as possible each training period.
According to the American Council on Exercise, pushups offer a solid workout for the triceps, pectorals, deltoids, rhomboids, erector spinae, serratus anterior, rotator cuff, abdominals and gluteus muscles. Unlike weightlifting, in which you gradually add more weight to your workout, pushups use your body weight as the primary resistance for each repetition. This means you can gauge your strength-training progress by keeping tally of the maximum number of pushups you can complete in single set.
The Teen’s Health website recommends that young weight-lifters start with natural-resistance exercises before using weights. This primarily has to do with the decreased level of risk associated with lifting your own body weight versus an artificial weight. A healthy 14-year-old can safely perform up to 15 pushups in no more than seven sets performed three times a week. As your muscles become stronger, you can increase the total number of pushups you complete each set and set your daily limit to 200.
If you have difficulties completing more than five standard pushups, attempt the modified pushup by resting your knees on the ground and you raise and lower your chest. For an added challenge, try the wide pushups recommended by the Military Fitness center. Place your hands so they are roughly twice the width of your shoulders on the ground and perform as many repetitions as possible.
It doesn’t matter how many pushups you complete if your form is incorrect. Maintain a solid pushup position by contracting your abs and keeping your shoulders, hips and heels in a straight line. Continue lowering your body until your chest is 1 inch from the ground each time, and keep your weight evenly distributed between both hands to minimize the amount of wobbling and shaking. If you suffer from a previous injury or chronic health condition that hampers your performance, talk to your doctor to ensure a pushup regimen is safe for you.