The push-up is a simple movement, but it’s arguably the best way to develop overall upper body strength and mobility. A proper push-up puts your shoulder blades (scapula) through their full range of motion, as opposed to the bench press, which forces you to keep your shoulder blades tight to protect your shoulders. The push-up is also unique in targeting the serratus anterior, an oft-ignored muscle whose development improves overhead movement and performance. Properly performed, the push-up also improves core stability by forcing you to maintain a rigid torso and straight legs.
The push-up forms the foundation of the Primal Blueprint Fitness Lift Heavy Things upper body program. It requires no equipment and can be scaled up or down depending on your strength and fitness levels. The basic push-up is easy to learn but difficult to master, and the variations will keep your body guessing and growing for years.
I get a lot of questions from folks who have shoulder issues or who are beginning body weight training. In both cases, people want an easier but effective alternative to the traditional military-style push-up—one that can help them build strength in a sustainable, safe way. I find the incline pushup is a great modification for anyone looking to get a solid upper body workout with less joint stress.