The pushup is an exercise that works almost every part of your body. You don't need any equipment or a gym membership. The pushup uses the body's weight working against gravity to strengthen muscles. A woman who does push-ups can strengthen her chest, firm and tone her arms and stabilize her core, or abdominal, muscles. Your legs and buttocks will also grow stronger and leaner since your legs help support the weight of your body when performing pushups.
Women have less upper body strength and muscle mass than men. Pushups strengthen a woman's forearms, the biceps and those hard-to-tone triceps on the back of the arms. The pectoral, or chest, muscles are also strengthened for a more firm breast area. The shoulders and upper back get a challenging workout because you must raise and lower your body using your arms, shoulders and upper back muscles. You can adjust the position of your hands on the floor to focus more energy on your chest or shoulders.
Core stability is your ability to control the movement and posture of your torso. Exercises that strengthen the core muscles improve the stability of your body. Women who do pushups will experience core strengthening, which stabilizes the core for better posture and balance. Pushups work a woman's abdominal muscles without twisting or moving the spine. Your spine remains stable throughout the exercise so that strengthening is focused on the arms, chest, upper back and core. Squeeze your abs tight when doing pushups for a thorough workout of your core muscles.
Types of Pushups
Women can perform pushups in different ways so that everyone from beginners to athletes can benefit from the muscle-strengthening power of the exercise. As a beginner, you will benefit from doing wall pushups for a few weeks. Stand an arm's-length away from the wall and place your palms flat on the wall about shoulder-width apart. Lean in toward the wall by bending your elbows and then push your body back away from the wall. Knee pushups are a good way to transition from wall pushups to the full, regular pushup. Start on your hands and knees and lower your body down and then push back up with your arms. Women may then transition to a full pushup when the upper body is stronger. Perform the full pushup with your body stretched out straight on the floor. Support the weight of your body on your hands and toes as you lower your body down and push back up. Start with 10 repetitions of each level of difficulty.
Warm Up and Stretch
Before exercising, it’s essential that you warm up your muscles to reduce the risk of injury. Warming up increases your circulation, loosens tight joints and helps prepare your muscles for more strenuous exercise. Warm up with some light exercise, such as walking at a brisk pace or slow jogging. Perform some calisthenics, such as jumping jacks or jump rope for five minutes. Next, stretch the muscles of your arms, shoulders, back and chest prior to performing push-ups. Keep your back straight when doing push-ups. Don't allow your back to sway downward or arch upward. After exercising, cool down the same way you warmed up. Start by walking for five minutes or until your heart rate returns to normal. Stretch your muscles to help remove the lactic acid that can cause muscle soreness.
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Robin Reichert is a certified nutrition consultant, certified personal trainer and professional writer. She has been studying health and fitness issues for more than 10 years. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of San Francisco and a Master of Science in natural health from Clayton College.