The beauty of the push-up is that you can do it anywhere at any time. And the no-cost, no-hassle convenience is only one of the many benefits of push-ups. The strength-training exercise engages several muscles at the same time, helping you maintain a healthy weight, strengthen bones and manage blood sugar and blood pressure. Moreover, it was found that push-ups can be an indicator of cardiovascular disease.
Push-ups can measure cardiovascular risk, while working important muscles.
A Measure of Cardiovascular Risk
Cardiovascular disease is the No. 1 cause of death globally. That said, researchers have discovered certain predictors of the disease.
A 2019 study published in JAMA Network Open found that men who were able to complete more than 40 push-ups showed a significant reduction in the incidence of cardiovascular disease over 10 years as compared to those who completed fewer than 10 push-ups.
These findings indicate that push-up capacity is linked to a lower likelihood of cardiovascular disease and that the simple no-cost exercise could be used as a measure to assess risk.
Benefits of Push-Ups for Muscles
Push-ups work your whole body, engaging several muscle groups at the same time: the legs, hips, deltoids, core, arms and chest. The bottom line: Push-ups strengthen muscles. But why is that important? Why is muscle strength necessary? According to the National Health Service of the United Kingdom, muscle strength is needed for:
- Helping sustain a healthy weight
- Strengthening bones
- Everyday movement
- Managing blood pressure and blood sugar
Certain studies have even pointed to the benefits of push-ups for specific muscle groups. For example, a 2014 study by the Journal of Sports Science & Medicine reported that the standard push-up increases activation of the pectorals and the deltoids, the muscles attached to the front, side and rear of the shoulder.
According to another study, published in 2016 by the Journal of Physical Therapy Science, found that when the hands are situated halfway inward from their standard position, there is greater activity in the chest muscles. The findings also concluded that when the hands are placed outward, the push-ups activated the triceps more. It should be noted, though, that due to small sample size, the findings may be limited.
The Perfect Push-Up
The American Council on Exercise (ACE) recommends the following form in order to properly execute a push-up:
Place your hands on the mat, shoulder-width apart, fingers facing forward. Brace your torso and fully extend your body, so that you're in plank position. Make sure your head and spine are aligned.
While keeping the same body position, slowly lower your body toward the mat while allowing your elbows to shift outward. Once your chest or chin has reached floor level, press upward through the arms until they're fully extended. You can move your hands forward.
For proper positioning and alignment, ACE suggests that your fingers face forward and are slightly turned inward, that your shoulders are situated right above your hands and that your torso is stiff so that your back doesn't sag.
- JAMA Network Open: "Association Between Push-Up Exercise Capacity and Future Cardiovascular Events Among Active Adult Men"
- ACE: "Push-Up"
- NHS: "Physical Activity Guidelines for Adults"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "The Rise of Push-Ups: A Classic Exercise That Can Help You Get Stronger"
- NCBI: Journal of Sports Science & Medicine: "Muscle Activation During Push-Ups With Different Suspension Training Systems"
- NCBI: Journal of Physical therapy Science: "Effect of the Push-Up Exercise at Different Palmar Width on Muscle Activities"