Is It OK To Do Push-ups In Old Age?
This old-time training exercise has long been the hallmark of optimal fitness. In fact, the Presidential Physical Fitness Challenge and U.S. Army still use pushups to gauge endurance and physical strength of a person.
The number of pushups you can do at one time can be a yardstick to measure your current fitness and strength and is an easy way to help improve. And the best thing is, you can do push-ups at any age, anywhere and at any time – you just need a few minutes. Read on here to learn how to do pushups correctly, perfect pushup form tips and a video showing start position & movement instructions step-by-step.
Pushups At Any Age – A Great Total Body Workout!
This old school exercise is a true top to bottom workout – engaging almost your whole body. It recruits various muscle groups synchronously: whether of the chest, arms, abdomen, hips, and legs.
Whereas the back and abs work as stabilizers, the arms and chest are used as primary muscles.
Bonus point with the pushups is that they can be adapted easily to fit your current capability and progressively adjusted as you gain strength and endurance.
By adjusting the speed you do a push-up, varying the angle of your body, and modifying even hands placement, you can increase or decrease intensity as required, or emphasize on the muscles that you want to strengthen and build.
For example, according to a February 2016 research paper published in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science – it was reported that the chest muscles are more intensively engaged when push-ups were done with the hands placed halfway inward from their normal position. On the contrary, when the hands were placed outward the triceps activity was greater.
In addition to building muscle mass, push-ups can improve several key biomechanics of aging. For instance, the pushup movement imitates your natural reaction when you stumble, that is mimics the way you extend your arms, hands, and wrists to absorb the impact. So they not only make your upper body stronger, but also develop your ability to quickly respond to protect yourself in case you fall.
How To Start Doing Push-ups?
As per some estimates, an average 65-year-old man should be able to perform 5 to 10 push-ups.
However, as a beginner you should never think of any particular number. Just be happy with what you can do and start establishing a good foundation from there.
More important is correct push up form. While maintaining good pushup form (check the perfect form in the video below), find out how many you can do. It can be 8 or 4 or even 1.
Taking this number as your humble beginning, aim for matching this number at your next session. And make efforts to increase the number by 1 or 2 each week.
As you gain strength and endurance, you can keep adding more reps or if you are using modified push-up position then can try to move up to a full push-up position.
(i) Always have a rest day in-between sessions so as to give your body enough time to recover.
(ii) Do not aim for more than a ten percent improvement from week to week.
Correct Push up Form
Make sure to do push-ups properly, so as to get optimum results.
Start Position: Start in a full plank position on the floor with your arms extended, hands/palms flat to the floor (fingers pointed forward) – just underneath shoulder level. Your legs should extend straight out behind you with feet together or about up to 12 inches apart, resting on the balls of your feet on the ground. Keep your back straight and your weight evenly distributed.
Movement: Look down and while keeping your core tight & squeezing butt, lower your body until your elbows are at 90 degrees (or go down until your chest touches the floor or until your chest is an inch or so from the floor). And then keeping your body in a straight line, push away from the floor and bring your body back up to the starting position – this completes one rep.
Note: To maximize benefits, try to take 2 seconds while going down and 1 second when coming up.
Avoid These Common Mistakes
(i) Piking: This is a common mistake people do. Don’t raise your butt above your body like a pike position. Though this helps take some pressure out of your core, but then you don’t gain the full benefit of push-up. By raising your butt up into the air, you shift more pressure on to your shoulders.
(ii) Dropping Your Stomach: Another common mistake while doing push-ups is dropping your stomach. Keep your core engaged and stomach tight when doing push-ups so as to protect your lower back.
(iii) Not Touching The Ground: To maximize value, do the push-up to its complete range of motion by lowering yourself all the way to the floor (or until your chest is an inch or so from the ground) and then returning back up to the starting position.
Note: Through out the movement, make sure to keep your knees, hips, back and shoulders aligned and straight.
Watch this video to learn how to do perfect pushups:
Easy Push Up Forms For The Seniors And Beginners
There are a number of ways to perform pushups. And, you can choose a form that matches with your current fitness level. If it’s too difficult for you to complete a full pushup, no problem; you can try a hands-and-knees position. Other options are pushups against a wall and inclined push-ups, in which you place your hands on a counter at a 45-degree angle. These easy options allow you to place less weight on your wrists and shoulders, but you can still recruit the core and work your arms and chest.
Whatever position you use to perform pushups, always keep in your mind to maintain your body straight without rounding or arching your back. Here are some easy options:
(i) If you want to perform them against a wall, then simply take a few steps away from a wall and do pushups. Here are step-by-step instructions for wall pushups.
(ii) To do incline pushups you can use even the back of your couch. Here are step-by-step instructions.