I’ve been going to the gym since I was fifteen. I love lifting weights. I love seeing the results. I also know it’s one of the best things I can do for my health and fitness regardless of my diabetes.
That said, the first exercise I started doing, in a regimented way, was press ups. I started this when I was thirteen. I’ve never stopped. That was thirty-two years ago.
Even when I can get into a gym, I still make press-ups a part of my routine. Why? There are all kinds of whys beyond the obvious and scientifically proven health benefits:
- Time – When I was sixteen, I could spend two hours in the gym every day. Today, I don’t have that kind of time. Getting out the bench, the plates, etc. takes time. Press-ups have no set up time. Get on the floor and get going!
- Lift Heavy Things – Have you ever wondered how much of your own body weight you are lifting with a press-up? For a regular press-up, it’s around 70%. Press-ups on your knees? About 50%. So this is a great way to lift heavy things.
- Upper Body Workout – When you ask the average Joe on the street what muscles the press-up works, he’ll probably say chest or maybe shoulders. True, the pectorals and deltoids are the main muscles. However, you are also working the triceps, abs, lower back, biceps and forearms.
- Variations – I’ve written before that workout routines can become “ruttish” and boring. Yet, there are a lot of ways to vary the press-up. The wider you go out with your hands, the more you bring your deltoids into the game. If your hands are shoulder-width apart or just inside shoulder-width you’re targeting the chest. Come in really close with your hands and you start to really working the triceps.
- Advanced Variations – You feel like you’ve mastered traditional press-ups? Why not take things to the next level? One arm press-ups, clap press-ups (my favourite), spiderman press ups and diamond press-ups are all great ways to mix things up and increase strength and fitness. Press-up planks (another favourite) are a great way to get two for the price of one. Press-up burpees are a great all-body work out and press-up/pull-up combos bring your latissimus dorsi and biceps into the game.
- They’re Free – Getting a gym membership is a huge waste of money for most people. They buy memberships in January, go for a few weeks and are gone by February. I’ve seen this my whole life. Press-ups are free. You can do them at home. No one is watching. The vast majority of people don’t need the gym.
- You can do them anywhere – Home is the obvious place. But I’ll do them in the park or the back garden when the weather is nice.
Resistance training is the key component of a healthy lifestyle. We are made to lift heavy things. Press-ups are the most convenient way to do this. I will do press-ups until the day I die.