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My Pilates Dessert

I am a big fan of desserts, so I decided to add them to my classes. Woman who attend my Pilates lessons (in the studio/ my online course) know that I always end my class with a special "dessert"-push-ups. The reason? It is an exercise that requires no equipment, just you, yourself and a mat. You use your body weight and gravity as your resistance.

Many people typically think of push-ups as an upper-body exercise, but they actually work the full body. This simple exercise strengthens your arms, chest, and back, as well as your abdominal muscles. In addition, as we get older our bone mass declines. Doing weight baring exercises like push-ups are important to keeping our bones strong. Along with major muscle groups, push-ups are also good for your wrists and elbow, so your risk for injury is low.

Although push-ups are a simple exercise, they are not easy. The good news is that they can be easily modified to suit your fitness level. The key is to find a push-up that works for you and not to be discouraged if you can’t do them straight away. For example, if you are a beginner, you could start with a wall push-up or push-ups on your knees and then advance to a standard push-up.

How to do push-ups correctly:

Knee Push-Ups
  1. Start on all fours with hands slightly wider than your shoulders and slowly shift your weight forward into a modified plank position. Your body should form a straight line from top of head to knees. Keep your head in a neutral position.

  2. Inhale and slowly bend your elbows, lowering your chest toward the floor, making sure to keep your back as straight as possible. Go as low as you can without compromising the position of your back and arms.

  3. Exhale and press the floor away as you rise back up to the starting position.

Traditional Push-Ups
  1. Start in an all-fours position, with your hands slightly wider than your shoulders and knees on the mat. Keep your head in a neutral position.

  2. Straighten your legs so that you’re in a high-plank position with your body forming a straight line parallel to the floor from top of head to heels. (The wider your feet, the more stability you will have.)

  3. Inhale and slowly bend your elbows, lowering your chest until it almost touches the floor, while keeping the muscles of your core tight and your back as flat as possible

  4. Exhale and push your body back up into high-plank position, maintaining a flat back and engaging your core.

Another modification is where you place your hands. If you place them far apart (thumbs on the mat and the rest of your fingers on the floor) it is a bit easier as you emphasize the chest muscle (a big muscle). Alternatively, if you want to challenge yourself, work with your elbows close to your chest, working on a smaller muscle area- your triceps.

If you’re just starting out, I suggest incorporating push-ups into your workout routine between one to three times a week, each time performing three sets of 5 to 10 push-ups. If you can’t do a traditional push-up with good form, start with knee push-ups. As your body strengthens you can proceed to performing three sets in which each set you do the maximum repetitions you can without harming good form.

In short, there are various ways to perform push-ups, with patience and persistence, you will start seeing results.

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