What do you bench? Can you bench as much as I can? Is your chest circumference as big as mine is? Seriously, who really cares? We’re not in high school any more. So the whaddaya-bench bravado should be of little concern unless you tan and pose in Speedos.
Whether you can bench press 80kg or 160kg might be an important measure in the gym, but outside of it, your ability to drop and perform push-ups is more relevant to your personal man ego. Drop and give me 20 is not punishment, but rather a test. One that most men should be able to pass.
So, can you do 20 push-ups? If not, it’s time to make a plan and get moving. It’s time to build some strength, and it’s time to start performing one of the best body weight exercises a man can execute.
Many gyms have a queue to get onto a free weight bench press, and those that know a bit less wiggle their way into a machine press. Unfortunately the push-up is the dinosaur exercise in the gym therefore rarely done. But push-ups work, and we need to get back to the basics, something even the government is getting on board with.
The Federal Government’s obesity fighting Swap campaign is pretty good. Swap the naughty food for something a bit healthier. Swap the bus ride and get off a bit earlier and walk. I like it, even though it’s soft. We need a firmer message when it comes to serious exercise. And us men can start with push-ups. Because if the only push you do is when you raise the roof during karaoke, then it’s time to swap it for push-ups. If you’re pushing too many doors open to get at the all you can eat buffet...it’s time to swap it for push-ups.
Swap for push-ups because:
a) They develop inner core strength – a push-up with good form has a neutral spine (flat back) position. At the top, middle, and bottom of a push-up, a plank is performed, and a plank is one of the best exercises to develop inner core strength;
b) They smash your chest – anywhere from 50 to 70 per cent of your bodyweight is lifted during a push-up. Your chest (pectoral) muscles are the primary muscle group used. Push-ups are great for developing a lean and toned chest.
c) They build strength and tone in your triceps – secondary to the chest, your triceps are being utilised while doing a push-up, so your arms are building strength, mass and tone.
Can you already do 20 push-ups? Then do more. Then change the tempo -try 4 seconds on the eccentric/down phase. Then try incline push-ups to work the upper part of the chest and shoulders, and then try decline push-ups to work the lower part of the chest. Try close-grip push ups to work your triceps.
Push-ups, in every form are versatile, challenging and produce results. And the best part is, you don’t need a gym. You just need enough space to drop and give it your best.
I’m not saying you need to become Paddy Doyle, who performed 1.5 million push-ups in one year. I am saying you need to develop solid strength to perform 20 push-ups.