Pushups are a popular exercise for strengthening the core and upper body. Many people incorporate pushups into their regular workout routine. The benefits of daily pushups include better muscle mass and cardiovascular health. Pushups are a type of exercise to build strength. Although they mainly activate the muscles of the arms and shoulders, they also involve the muscles of the core and legs. Therefore, pushups are helpful in building strength throughout the body. This article focuses on the effects of daily pushups on the body. We cover the potential benefits and risks. We also discuss whether or not people should do pushups every day.
Increased joint support
Pushups are particularly effective in strengthening the muscles around the shoulder joints. The muscles and tendons in the shoulder area are responsible for maintaining the arm bone in the shoulder cavity. However, it is important to gradually increase the number of push-ups to develop sufficient strength in the muscles. Overloading weak muscles can cause muscle and tendon injuries.
Increased muscle tone and strength
There are different variations of push-ups and each type activates the muscles in different ways. A small 2015 study involving eight volunteers looked at the following pushup variations and compared their effects on different muscle groups:
- Standard Pushup (SP): Hands are shoulder-width apart and directly in line with the shoulders. The upper body, or torso, lines up with the legs and the body remains rigid throughout.
- Wide pushup: The distance between the hands is double that of the SP.
- Tight Pushup (NP): The hands are below the center of the breastbone or breastbone, with the thumb and index finger of each hand in contact.
- Forward pushup (FP): Hands are shoulder-width apart but 20 centimeters (cm) in front of the shoulders.
- Backward Pushup (BP): Hands are shoulder-width apart but 20 cm behind the shoulders.
The study found the following:
- NPs led to the greatest activation of the major muscles of the triceps and pectoral, or pectorals.
- FPs and BPs led to maximum activation of the abdominal and back muscles.
- BPs activated the largest number of muscle groups in total.
The authors conclude that BPs may be the most beneficial pushup variation for improving upper body condition and strength. NPs are best suited to people looking to increase the size, tone, or strength of their triceps and pecs.
Improvement of cardiovascular health
Numerous studies have linked muscle strength to a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. A 2019 study investigated the link between the number of pushups a person can do and the risk of developing a cardiovascular health problem 10 years later. A total of 1,104 active middle-aged males took part in the study. The researchers found a significant difference between two groups of males; those who were able to perform more than 40 pushups and those who were able to perform less than 10. Males in the 40+ pushup group were 96% less likely to have had a cardiovascular problem than males in the group 10 pushup. However, it is important to remember that this study only included active middle-aged males. Further studies are needed to determine whether these associations are the same for females and for older or inactive people.
As with most exercises, pushups can increase the risk of some injuries. Many injuries result from the use of an improper technique. People should speak to a fitness instructor if they are unsure how to do the different variations of pushups. Overall, the benefits of exercise tend to outweigh the risks. However, some potential risks in exercising daily pushups include:
Achieve a fitness plateau
People who repeat the same exercise daily will notice that it becomes less and less demanding over time. People refer to this as a fitness plateau. It indicates that the muscles are no longer developing. To avoid hitting a fitness plateau, people should include a wide range of exercises in their fitness routine. Doing so will activate many different muscle groups. People eager to maintain their muscles can benefit from the introduction of aerobic exercise. A 2013 study found that people who do aerobic exercise tend to maintain greater muscle strength throughout their lifespan. Ideally, a thorough training routine should also include the following types of exercise:
- core development
- balance training
Some variants of pushups, such as BP and FP, increase the activation of the lumbar muscles. This can cause back pain and discomfort. Push-ups also cause temporary compression of the intervertebral joints in the spine. An intervertebral joint is the point where two sections of the spine meet. A cushion of tissue called the intervertebral disc separates each section of the spine. Excessive load exercises can contribute to the wear of these discs, causing pain and stiffness. People with existing back conditions should speak to a doctor before incorporating pushups into their fitness routine.
Some people experience pain in their wrists when doing weight lifting exercises such as pushups. Most of the pain occurs along the back of the wrist when a person bends their hand backwards. A 2017 study found that 84% of people who suffered from pain along the back of the wrist in response to loading had a physical abnormality inside the wrist. About 76% of these cases were due to a small ganglion cyst. The second most common cause of pain was a partial ligament tear. It is unclear whether these abnormalities were the result of repeated weight-bearing exercises. However, people who experience wrist pain during pushups should see a doctor. They can offer advice on how to support the wrist during exercise. Alternatively, a doctor may recommend a different exercise technique.
A 2011 study investigated the effect of bending speed on the elbow joints. The researchers tested three different pushup speeds: fast, medium and slow. The study found that faster pushup speed resulted in greater forces on the elbow joints, ligaments, and other surrounding tissues. They concluded that faster pushups could increase the risk of injury to these structures. The study also showed that slower pushup speeds resulted in greater muscle activation. Overall, these findings suggest that slower pushups are safer and more likely to result in better muscle development.
Doing daily pushups can help build muscle tone and strength in the upper body. Other potential benefits include better cardiovascular health and better support around the shoulder joints. However, doing push-ups every day carries some risks. These include lower back pain, wrist pain, and elbow injuries. People can reduce these risks by learning the proper technique for the pushup variations they want to incorporate. People who choose to do pushups every day should also try to incorporate other forms of exercise. This will likely provide a greater overall health benefit than pushups alone.