It is time to banish the difference between the so-called boy pushup and girl pushup, the latter of which is usually done with your knees on the floor. Regular pushups, those where you are balancing on your hands and the balls of your feet, can help to strengthen multiple muscle groups in your body. Though the focus is often on the shoulders and upper back, pushups are ideal for improving your core strength, which includes your lower back and abdominal muscles.
Position yourself on your hands and knees on the floor or exercise mat. Move your shoulders to be directly over your hands and your hips to be in line with your knees. Maintain a neutral spine and straight neck; your gaze should be directly in front of you on the floor. Push your shoulders away from your ears.
Pull your stomach muscles in toward your lower back to activate your core, which will help with strengthening. The abdominal muscles and lower back work together as one to stabilize the body. Maintain this engagement throughout the entire exercise.
Lift your knees and extend your legs behind you to come into the top of the pushup. Push your heels back behind you as you balance on the balls of your feet. Contract your glutes and maintain the abdominal and lower back muscle engagement. Your body should be in one line from shoulders to heels.
Lower your upper body down toward the floor by bending your elbows. Use a controlled movement and keep the abdominal, lower back and glute engagement throughout the descent.
Stop lowering when your upper arms are parallel to the floor. Hold for one count and then push through your hands to rise back to starting position. Use your core to help you push back up to the top of the pushup by pulling your stomach muscles in and up as you rise; avoid letting your stomach dip toward the floor. Complete five to 10 pushups.
- Focus on form rather than number of repetitions; it is better to do fewer reps and maintain proper form than rack up a large number of pushups.
- Avoid looking down during the exercise and instead gaze slightly forward on the floor in front of you. Looking down can cause your upper back and shoulders to bend, which may put stress on your lower back.
- Lower down only as far as you are able while still maintaining an abdominal engagement. Stop lowering if you notice that your stomach is starting to dip toward the floor; this can weaken your core and lower back rather than strengthening them.
Beth Rifkin has been writing health- and fitness-related articles since 2005. Her bylines include "Tennis Life," "Ms. Fitness," "Triathlon Magazine," "Inside Tennis" and others. She holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from Temple University.