Upper body strengthening... continued!
Eight minutes to a stronger upper body
Team! Welcome to Part 2 of Leveling Up your Upper Body Strength! This week we tackle another daunting movement for so many - the push-up! This is another foundational functional movement that is accessible to everyone with a variety of modifications. This week's workout is an 8-minute accessory that you can add to any training day. Perform it twice per week and watch your upper body strength soar! Enjoy! -Carla
Last week we leveled up our upper body strengthening with “pulling” movements. This week, we will focus on “pushing”, with another foundational functional movement that we all know and love, the noble push-up!
Just like the pull-up, push-ups can be very challenging for people, but there are a variety of modifications for everyone - whether you have never done a push-up if you are coming back from injury, or if you are proficient with push-ups but want to increase your capacity.
Why performing push-ups is important for mid-life women
Builds muscle strength and mass at a time of life when muscle and bone mass declines.
Builds stability around the shoulder joint at a time of life when tendons and ligaments become more lax and are lending less stability to the joints.
Builds core strength which is important for balance and preventing falls at a time of life when fracture risk is increased.
This week’s workout is an accessory that you can add onto virtually any training day that takes just 8 minutes! We will review a variety of options for performing a push-up, refresh our memory on pull-up modifications from last week’s post Level Up Your Upper Body Strength!, and put it together into an 8-minute accessory segment.
The Push Up
The push-up targets more muscles than you think, and that is why it is such an amazing exercise! For a deep dive into the “anatomy of a push-up”, check out this National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) blog post.
Pectorals (chest muscles)
Deltoids (shoulder muscles)
Serratus anterior, trapezius, and rotator cuff (posture and shoulder support muscles)
Triceps (backside of the arm muscles)
Core stabilizers (abdominals and spinal support muscles)
Gluteals (hip muscles)
Just like any complex exercise, proper technique and pain-free load and range of motion are of paramount importance to maximize the benefits of the exercise and to stay safe! Check out the demo below and the NASM blog post for the proper way to perform the push-up. These same technical elements also apply to push-up modifications. You can find additional push-up modifications HERE.
What if I can’t do push-ups?
Not to worry! The easiest way to modify the push-up is to elevate the hands and perform an incline push-up using the same mechanics demonstrated for the strict push-up in the video above. The incline can be any height and can even be done against a wall for those who struggle with shoulder pain, prior injury, or who are just starting out. Select an incline height on a stable surface where you can perform the movement with solid mechanics and pain-free range of motion.
The incline push-up
The wall push-up
Upper Body Strength Accessory
Take 5-10 minutes to do a thorough shoulder warm-up. Warming up properly is critically important for staying injury-free! Don’t skip it!
If adding on to a training day, you may already be warmed up or can do a set or two of an “easier” modification above to warm up further.
If you have access to a Crossover Symmetry system, this is an excellent way to warm up.
Select a push-up option that allows you to perform between 5-10 repetitions (unbroken or with short rest) in 30-45 seconds. Your technique should remain solid and never get ugly, but the movement should become challenging in the last 3-4 repetitions.
Select a pull-up option (see last week’s blog post for options) that allows you to perform between 5-10 repetitions (unbroken or with short rest) in 30-45 seconds. Your technique should remain solid and never get ugly, but the movement should become challenging in the last 3-4 repetitions.
EMOM 8 (every minute on the minute for 8 minutes). For best results, adhere strictly to the time domain!
Odd minutes: Perform as many push-ups as you can in 30-45 seconds. Rest for the remainder of the minute.
Even minutes: Perform as many pull-ups as you can in 30-45 seconds. Rest for the remainder of the minute.
TIP! Add this accessory work into your training twice per week. The goal is to add repetitions to the 1-minute segments so that you can build capacity within the boundaries of a time domain. Increasing repetitions over consistent time periods targets muscle power as well as strength and hypertrophy. Learn more about this HERE.
… and don’t forget tissue care and recovery
What is as important as performing the exercise itself is recovering from it so that you stay injury-free and are ready for the next session. #dontskipthecooldown
Check out this 10-minute shoulder-opening stretch sequence.