Pushups are still one of the best upper body exercises. This basic movement continues to be a staple in the exercise routine of athletes, recreational gym goers, bodybuilders, and even those recovering from certain injuries. While most people are familiar with push-ups, some are not sure which muscles they work. This article describes the muscles that push-ups work, how to achieve them, and their benefits.
What muscles do push ups work?
Although push-ups are often thought of as a chest exercise, the other muscles you work should not be overlooked. In fact, pushups are a bodyweight exercise, which means they work multiple muscles in the upper body.
Here are the muscles you target when performing a standard push-up.
The pectoralis major is the largest of the chest muscles. It is thick, fan-shaped, and located just below the breast tissue. It acts as the main mover during push-ups. The muscle consists of two heads. One is the clavicle head, which originates in the middle part of the clavicle. The other is the head of the sternum, which originates in the sternum and upper ribs. Although these heads come from different places, they fit within the upper part of the humerus, or humerus. During a push-up, this muscle controls the lowering of the torso toward the ground and pushes the body back to the starting position.
The pectoralis minor muscle is an unknown muscle in the chest. It is noticeably smaller in size and is located under the pectoralis major muscle. This small, triangular muscle originates from the 3rd to 5th anterior rib. It is inserted into the coracoid process, a small hook-like structure located on the anterior part of the scapula. During the pushup, the small chest holds the shoulder blades in place. This allows for correct shoulder and upper back posture.
The triceps, officially known as the triceps brachii, is a large, thick muscle located at the back of your arm. The prefix “tri” refers to the three heads that make up this important push-up muscle. These are the middle, lateral and long heads. Each head has a unique point of origin. The three heads fit into the operculum, which is the pointed bone at the back of the elbow joint. During the first half of the pushup, when your chest almost touches the floor, the triceps helps stabilize your torso. During the second half, the triceps muscle is the primary driver of arm extension.
The deltoids are large, triangular muscles located above the shoulder joints. Like the triceps, this powerful muscle consists of three distinct heads: the anterior, lateral, and posterior. Although all heads are active during the push, the front head is most stressed due to its location in front of the shoulder joint. This head originates from the front of the collar bone and fits over the outside of the humerus at the top of your arm. During the upward phase of the pushup, the anterior deltoids help to approximate the shoulder joint, that is, they help bring the arms back toward the chest. It also helps stabilize the shoulders during landing.
While push-ups primarily stimulate the chest muscles, other muscle groups support movement. One of these groups is the core muscles, specifically the abdominal muscles. The abdominal muscles consist of five major muscles: the rectus abdominis, the transverse abdominus, the internal and external obliques, and the piriformis. The deep back muscles also help keep the torso straight. In particular, both spinae and multifidus contribute to this.
Working in unison, these core muscles help keep the spine straight and in good shape during push-ups.
What are the advantages of pumps?
Pushups are a tried and true strength training exercise known for its many potential benefits. Here are the main benefits of doing push-ups regularly.
Strengthen the upper body
Since the pushup is a compound exercise that targets multiple muscle groups simultaneously, they have great potential for building upper body strength.
When push-ups are part of a balanced training program, they can significantly strengthen the pectoral muscles, triceps and anterior deltoids.
Additionally, research indicates that pushups with weights provide muscle activation similar to the bench press, which is another well-known upper body exercise.
Although push-ups primarily target the muscles of the upper body, performing them correctly can also strengthen the core muscles, including the abdominals and lower back.
May improve body composition
Anyone who’s done more than a few push-ups knows they can get your heart pumping. Adding strength exercises such as push-ups to your aerobic exercise program can increase your energy metabolism, which helps you burn more calories. This can lead to benefits such as increased fat loss. Thus, adding pushups to a balanced training program, along with the right diet, can lead to long-term improvements in body composition.
Doing push-ups regularly has many potential benefits, including strengthening the upper body, reducing heart attack risk, and improving body composition.
How to do push-ups correctly
Although pushups require no equipment and are fairly easy to perform, there are some subtle cues to keep in mind when doing them.
By following the steps below, you’ll be on your way to performing the perfect push-up.
1 Start in a raised plank position with your arms extended and your palms on the floor about shoulder width apart. Place your toes on the floor in line with your legs.
2 Engage your core, glutes and legs to align your spine.
3 Keeping your back straight and looking in front of you a few feet, bend your elbows to descend in a gradual, controlled motion until your chest touches the floor. Keep your elbows close to your sides throughout the movement.
4 As you exhale, push your palms down to return to the starting position. Focus on contracting your chest and triceps muscles while keeping your core tight.
5 Repeat the exercise for the required number of repetitions and sets.