December 13th, 2017
The push is one of our most common movement patterns, and for good reason. It doesn’t just enable us to exert force – it literally opens doors. If you push yourself hard enough, the movement will empower you to transform yourself and change the world around you.
You use the push every time you exert force to move an object away from your upper body. Without the push, we wouldn’t be able to drive standard or mow the lawn. We push with our arms to open windows, block football opponents, and play with our children on the swings.
At a basic level, the push operates along two planes of motion: horizontal and vertical. When you lift your arms up above your head to place dishes on a high shelf, you’re using a vertical push. When you push straight out from the body – whether you’re doing a push-up or opening a door – the horizontal push is at play.
With determination and teamwork, we can use the push to make a real impact on our surroundings. Earlier this month, a group of subway passengers in Stirling, Australia combined their strength to push an entire train away from the platform, rescuing and possibly even saving the life of a man who had become trapped.
By enabling us to exert force on the objects around us, the push empowers us to make a difference. But if you want to reach your full potential, you have to start by pushing yourself. And there’s no better place to start than with your own bodyweight.
Combining a wide range of push-based bodyweight exercises will challenge you – and change you for the better. Not only will you build serious muscle endurance; you’ll also boost your coordination while developing balanced, full-body strength. That will help you avoid injury in your daily activities. For athletes, it also means better performance across the board.
The horizontal push is like a squat for your upper body: a natural, functional progression from the forward plank. Your anterior deltoids, pectoralis major and triceps engage in a coordinated effort to generate the force you need to push forward through the arms. At the same time, your quads and abdominal muscles provide the stabilizing counter-force that keeps you from falling. Without balanced strength in your arms and your core, you wouldn’t be able to complete the movement.
During a vertical push, your deltoids take center stage. The vertical push works all of your delts’ heads: anterior, lateral and posterior. That gives your shoulders a great workout while your pecs take a much-needed break. If you tend to favor one side of the body when carrying a purse or briefcase, you can use the vertical push to restore balance and improve your posture. Pushing upward with your favored side will strengthen your abs so they can resist your body’s unhealthy habitual lean.
If we didn’t push ourselves, we’d never discover just how far we can go. The drive to work hard is what enables us to achieve our own goals – and help others achieve theirs.