The Most Important Exercise for Women [and how to do it]
Over the years I have had the great privilege of coaching hundreds of hard-working women.
These women come to us motivated and ready to look and feel their best.
Knowing that I only get a few hours a week to improve their fitness and move them closer to their goals, I need to ensure they are receiving the most bang-for-your-buck training possible.
One way we do this is with the exercise selection.
One constant you will see across our Women's Group Program is the use of specific exercises to improve our ladies' strength, flexibility, and fitness.
When done correctly, there is one exercise for women that stands above the rest.
It is typically a very challenging exercise for our women but with a little work, has the biggest impact on their total-body strength and fitness.
That exercise is the push-up.
1. Core and hip stability.
You could say that we love push-ups.
One reason we love them so much is their impact on strengthening our ladies' hips and cores.
When push-ups are done correctly, your core, abs, glutes and hips have to work very hard to prevent your low-back from dropping into an extended position.
This is huge for not only their overall strength, but also injury prevention and eliminating low-back pain.
When you strengthen your abs and glutes, you are better able to maintain a more neutral pelvic and lower spine position, taking stress off your low-back.
This newly gained core strength is also crucial for improving your ability to do other strength and cardio exercises like squats, lunges, burpees and planks.
In other words, the better you get at push-ups, the better you get at almost all other exercises.
2. Upper-body strength.
The push-up is truly a full-body movement but specifically targets your chest, shoulders, upper back and arms.
When it comes to building strength and better arms, resistance is the name of the game.
This simply refers to the amount of weight or stress your body is under during an exercise.
This is why we use the push-up so much and prefer it over other lower-weight exercises like curls and tricep kick-backs.
With the push-up, there is plenty of resistance and one main reason they are so hard: during the movement you need to lower, control and then press-up nearly your entire body-weight making the push-up the #1 upper-body strengthening exercise.
3. Shoulder health.
Although traditional pressing exercises like the bench press are great for building upper body strength, they can be problematic for the shoulder if done too often.
The problem is they lock the shoulder blades in place and do not let them move through their natural range-of-motion.
Over time this can lead to excessive stress at the shoulder joint.
Push-ups on the other hand work the shoulders through their natural full range of motion.
When you drop down into your push-up your shoulder blades retract or glide together. This puts your shoulder into the right, stabile position, allow you to take stress off your shoulders.
On the way up, your shoulder blades protract or spread apart.
This retraction and protraction during the push-up strengthens your most important shoulder stabilizers keeping your shoulders healthy long-term.
New to push-ups?
4. Incline push-ups.
We start all of our new ladies' push-ups from an elevated surface. It allows them to be successful and perfect their form before moving closer to the floor.
This is also a much better option than going from their knees on the floor as it challenges your core much more.
- Start hands directly under shoulders ( on an elevated surface like a bench or table)
- Keep straight line from head to heels
- Keep glutes squeezed and hips tucked
- Lower entire body until upper arms are parallel with body
- Keep arms back at 45 degree angle
- Press up to return to starting position
- Start with 3 sets of 6-10 reps, 2x/week.
Lower incline push-ups:
Continue to make progress with your push-ups by moving to a lower surface when you're ready.
Start with 3 sets of 6-10 reps, 2x/week.
Push-ups from the floor:
Same as above but off the floor.
This is the most challenging push-up variation of all.
To start, keep your reps lower and your sets higher to ensure quality over quantity.
Start with 4-5 sets of 3 reps, 2x/week.
You will train in a safe, effective environment and develop a camaraderie within a group that motivates and pushes you to higher levels in a non-intimidating, supportive atmosphere.