Friday, April 6, 2012

First Lady Michelle Right About Push-Ups: Fab For Toning Arms

We thought of First Lady Michelle Obama yesterday, as we struggled to complete a set of 10 push-ups. Remember when Mrs. O challenged Ellen on her TV talk show last February? And the First Lady won by completing 25?!

Not bad for a 48-year-old woman.

Last year, we could do 20 push-ups. Then we got lax, and took a break. We continue to lift small weights to keep our arms toned. We've been doing that for years now, but push-ups are really an excellent all-around toning movement that don't require any equipment or much time, just the desire for a strong, fit body. Plus, you can do a push-up just about anywhere.

Let's face it----Summer isn't too far behind, and that means warm weather and the shedding of sweaters and jackets. If you want your arms on display, now is the time to get MOVING.

And Michelle Obama has it right----her 'Let's Move' Fitness Program for school-aged children speaks volumes. But when you think about the theme, there really is NO age limit. We should all be moving.

If you want to bet that beautifully-toned arms like the First Lady's are just about lucky DNA, you're wrong. You have to work at it continuously.

So, let's further examine the push-up and its benefits and features. We did some research and found an old but very educational article in the Los Angeles Times by Jay Blahnik, a Laguna Beach-based personal trainer and IDEA Health & Fitness Assn. spokesman:

"The primary muscles used during a push-up are the chest, front shoulder and triceps muscles. However, because the push-up requires you to hold your body in a stable, horizontal position against gravity, you also engage your neck, core, hips and legs with each repetition.

Although the push-up is a simple exercise, many people do it incorrectly. Consider these push-up tips to minimize the risk of injury and maximize the benefits:

* When pushing away from the floor, focus on using your arms and keeping your body in a straight line throughout the movement. Avoid lifting your butt higher than your hips or hunching your neck and shoulders. Go slowly and exhale on the upward phase of the exercise.

* Don't allow your chest to actually touch the floor when you come down. Instead, stop the downward portion of the movement when your chest is 2 to 3 inches away from the floor. This will protect your shoulders and still provide plenty of range of motion to make the exercise effective. Try placing a book, rolled-up towel or tennis shoe under your chest to remind you when to stop lowering your body during the exercise.

* If you are unable to complete a full push-up, execute the exercise from your knees and/or place your hands on the edge of a sofa or bench (instead of the floor). These positions will make it less challenging, and allow you to build your strength over time. Then progress to a traditional push-up when you are able to complete 8 to 12 repetitions of this easier version of the exercise."

For more push-ups information, click here.

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