How many push-ups can you do?
We don't often use conventional fitness exercises at Fluid Fitness the way you perform them in a gym, but we do encourage any activity that helps you stay strong and fit. So we sat up and noticed when a New York Times article reported that, "[b]ased on national averages, a 40-year-old woman should be able to do 16 push-ups and a man the same age should be able to do 27."
Why is the push-up considered an important marker of physical fitness? The idea is that although we naturally lose muscle strength as we age, continuing to strengthen muscles helps us fend off that decline. Developing upper body strength helps us carry those shoulder and spine-crunching bags we love to tote and that strength helps us brace ourselves in case of falls that may require long recovery time.
Challenge yourself to see if you are up to snuff:
- 1. Find a secure plank position: toes on the walk, heels reaching away from the calves, inner thighs kissing, tailbone reaching toward the heels, abdomen engaged, scapulae hugging the ribs, neck long and eyes gazing down at splayed palms that are angled slightly toward each other and directly under your chest. Of course, you can find the same strong, long position with the knees bent. Either way, you should be in one long line like, well... a plank - with no sags or bumps.
- 2. Lower yourself down by bending the elbows up to 90 degrees.
- 3. Exhale as you straighten the arms, returning to that secure plank position. You could even utter "1" as you exhale.
- 4. Continue with steps 1-3, counting as you go.
How many can you do with varying arm positions?
- elbows out and palms angled toward each other under the chest
- elbows out and palms angled toward each other under the shoulders
- elbows out with palms close enough so that thumbs and first fingers form a triangle
- elbows hugging the ribs with palms under the shoulders, palms parallel to each other
Feel how the different positions affect your muscles? Maybe you want to try them on a stair, chair, counter or wall. Test your strength and stamina. Test the integrity of your form. The important thing is to try them; test yourself.
Want help? Not sure about form? You can always ask a trainer here at Fluid Fitness. There are lots of exercises you can do at the studio to improve your upper-body fitness, including the trusty ol' push-up.
Don't worry - we're not suggesting you give Jack Palance a run for his money, our interest is a strong healthy you - however you express it. And if you have the opportunity to show-off with an acceptance speech for all your hard work - we'll cheer you on!