What makes push-ups so good?
Push-ups are much more than just an upper body exercise. They work the pecs, deltoids and triceps while strengthening the muscles of the core. On top of improved upper body definition push-ups build muscular endurance and create lean muscle mass that improves overall fitness and good health.
When compared to the bench press, another popular chest exercise, push-ups provide more effective functional training. The Penn State University study participants generated 50 percent more activation in the abdominals during push-ups compared to bench press repetitions with parallel weight.
There’s no dispute that the most effective push-ups are push-ups on your toes, as they engage a greater amount of activation in the muscles of the upper body and core – demanding whole body integration. However, push-ups on your toes can be pretty challenging and many people, especially older adults or individuals new to exercise, cannot safely complete multiple push-ups on their toes. All too often the hips and neck are not aligned properly and consequently the risk of injury outweighs the rewards. “When people are struggling to lower themselves towards the ground in a toe push-up position, they shouldn’t give up or feel discouraged, says Gottschall. “We can now be confident that push-ups on your knees are an effective modification.”