Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Are Those Stupid Push-Ups Really Necessary and Can They Really Help Me Lose Stomach Fat?

Here's a question/comment I get quite often and how to get past this common workout problem.

Question: "What if I can't do push-ups?" Or. "What if I can only do 5 push-ups but your workout calls for 10?"

A: Surprisingly this is a pretty common problem. Many people are either too heavy or too weak to perform a single push-up. Or if they can do push-ups they can't do very many at one time. (FYI: You can substitute virtually any exercise for push-ups like squats, planks, lunges, etc. that people have trouble doing)

That's not a good problem to have, but it's not the end of the world if you take action.

There are a few reasons you may not be able to do any push-ups (or very few).

The obvious ones are that you're too heavy or too weak. That's easy.

However, there are some people who are relatively strong and not too heavy who still can't do push-ups. They may be able to do a decent amount of weight in exercises like the dumbbell chest press or machine chest press, but push-ups are just too darn hard.

These people may be weak in their core. I say that because if your low back, abs and all the little, deep stabilizer muscles aren't strong enough to hold you up, you can't do push-ups.

Or your shoulder stabilizers may be too weak. This is a very common problem, even in people who regularly exercise but only use the machines found in health clubs or a big home gym. You have lots of little muscles around your shoulder that help stabilize that joint. If they're weak, you won't be able to hold yourself in a push-up position, let alone lower your body and press it back up.

But do you really need to do push-ups? Are they all that valuable outside of gym class from middle school?

Absolutely! Push-ups are, by far, the most valuable upper body exercise around. They work way too much muscle to be excluded and help strengthen virtually every muscle in your upper body, including your abs and low back - muscles that everybody wants worked.

But how do you get to a point where you can do push-ups if you're having trouble doing 1, or if you can only do a few?

Well, if you're someone who's too heavy - lose weight. Easy answer, huh?

Seriously though, you can substitute an exercise that I love to use called a "Standing Resistance Tube Chest Press". You just need some resistance tubing and a place to anchor it, like a door.

Anchor the tube and stand facing away from the tubes with your hands at your sides at chest height. You then press your arms straight out in front of you so you are essentially doing a push-up in the standing position. It's very important to keep your abs braced and tight throughout the movement. If you don't, you'll wobble all over the place like a flower in the wind.

Once you've mastered that movement, and are doing it perfectly, give the push-ups a try again. If at that point you can do at least 5 push-ups, you're good to go.

Now that you can do a few push-ups, but can't do the recommended number a workout calls for, you just need to tweak a few things.

Let's say you can do 5 push-ups and the workout calls for 3 sets of 10.

I want you to perform 3 sets of 4 push-ups. By only doing 4, rather than your maximum of 5, you ensure you won't completely tire yourself out, yet in total you'll do 12 push-ups, which is pretty good progress in my book.

Then each week, try and do more push-ups than the last. Pretty soon you'll be a push-up master and will be able to move on and do more difficult versions.

If you can do regular push-ups and want to step it up a notch and do some more difficult ones, check out these 2 videos I made:



Have a good day!


P.S. - I love push-ups, and for good reason. They are an excellent upper body exercise and strengthen your chest, shoulders, triceps (back of your arms), upper back, abs, low back and glutes (butt). They are a fantastic fat burning move and they're one exercise that you can perform endless variations of. If you want to learn how to integrate push-ups into your fat burning workout, check out my Fat Loss To Go program now at www.fatlosstogo.com

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