Push-Ups: Getting Your Full Range

November 19, 2020

The Benefits of Wide Push-Ups and How to Do Them
The Push-Up is only beneficial if we can get our chest close to the floor. Compared to dumbbells during the chest press, our bodies are much heavier than dumbbells. Therefore, it makes sense that pushups are generally harder. However, there are ways to improve the pushup and to improve your strength. I know, it can be challenging to get your chest low even on your knees. On the other hand, if you are doing pushups on your toes and your chest doesn’t get low, you MUST get your knees down to get low. Bringing the chest down to get ground gives you the full RANGE OF MOTION. More muscle fibers are able to be activated when you get the full range of motion. If you’re only about 25-50% down, that is the same amount of muscle fibers being activated. So, if you are wondering why you aren’t getting stronger, this may be a reason. 
The picture to the left is what our pushups should look like!
90 Degree angles in the wrist and elbow that do not put awkward stress in the shoulders, elbows, and wrists.
Now, why is spreading the distance between your palms important? The push up that is socially accepted are military-style or close grip pushups. This variation of the exercise takes a lot of tricep strength and shoulder flexibility and strength. Therefore it is important to build the base strength of those two muscles for the “standard” pushup.
Now, if you spread your arms wider, you will naturally be able to get lower since there will be significantly less strain in the shoulder. There will be perfect 90-degree angles in the wrist and elbows as seen above. More importantly, you are mainly engaging in just the chest muscle. This means those secondary muscles aren’t helping too much and your chest will get stronger.
When analyzing the woman to the right doing the pushup, it can be seen that the angles are small in the wrist and elbow, and for many of us, this is a big limiting factor in our range of motion. Those who feel these limits, do not get low enough to engage the necessary muscles to get stronger.
Moving forward, I highly encourage us to spread the palms wide to get low.
I promise you will get stronger with this method! 

The Author

Carlo Varquez, M.S.

I believe in the practice of preventative health. The only way to combat chronic diseases is through preventative action such as exercise and diet. My health and wellness career started within myself. After being an active person in high school through sports, my fitness dropped entering college. I gained unhealthy habits that lead to weight gain. To prevent any complications, I made some time to be active again by picking up weight lifting. Through that, I found myself wanting to help others before it was too late for them. As I gained my masters degree, I interned at the Cardiac Rehabilitation department at Advocate Lutheran General. I saw firsthand what cardiovascular disease can do, and what the action plan is to help those people return back to their daily routine. The time to make change is now, but it doesn’t need to be done alone. The science behind exercise is a powerful tool that is often overlooked. I want to motivate and increase self-efficacy to help others achieve their goals.

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