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A push-up, or in British English also a press-up, is a common calisthenics exercise performed in a prone position by lowering the body using the arms.
Push-ups exercise the pectoral muscles and triceps, with ancillary benefits to the deltoids, serratus anterior, coracobrachialis and the midsection as a whole.
Push-ups are a basic exercise used in civilian athletic training or physical education and commonly in military physical training. They are also a common form of punishment used in the military or in school sport.
In the “full push-up”, the back and legs are straight and off the floor. There are several variations besides the common push-up. These include bringing the thumbs and index fingers of both hands together (a “diamond pushup”) as well as having the elbows pointed towards the knees. These two variations are intended to put greater emphasis on the triceps rather than the shoulder and chest muscles. When both hands are unbalanced or on uneven surfaces, this exercise works the body core. Raising the feet or hands onto elevated surfaces during the exercise emphasize the upper (minor) and lower (major) pectorals, respectively. Raising the hands with the aid of push-up bars or a dumbbell allows for greater ROM (Range of Motion) providing further stress for the muscles. In any variation of a push-up, a person will be lifting about 65% of his or her body weight.
Another extremely difficult variation is to perform a push-up using only hands, without resting the feet on the floor, i.e. starting from and returning to the planche position. These are known as “planche push-ups”. To do this variation, the body’s center of gravity must be kept over the hands while performing the push-up by leaning forward while the legs are elevated in the air, which requires great strength and a high level of balance.
Another variation often used as part of boxing training involves doing the push-up while wearing boxing gloves. The design of the gloves means that the person doing the push-up must do so on his or her knuckles and without bending his or her wrists. This method is also commonly used in martial arts, such as Karate and Tae Kwon Do, but without the boxing gloves.
The intent, aside from building the arms, is to build wrist strength for punching. These push-ups may also strengthen bones and build calluses upon the knuckles to reduce pain in punching.
“Maltese push-ups” are a gymnastic variation of the push-up, in which the hands are positioned closer to the hips (as opposed to the pectorals), but with an extremely great distance between them.
“Hindu push-ups” (aka Hanuman Push-ups or Dive Bomber Push-ups) are a form of exercise prevalent in Pakistani physical culture and Indian martial arts, particularly Pehlwani. Hindu squats are called Uthak-bethak and the exercise regimen in Indian wrestling often consists of doing the Indian “jack-knifing push-ups”, Indian club swinging and squats. The Hindu jack-knifing push-ups are part of the core exercises for building up of strength, stamina, and flexibility of joints. The dand was also a part of the exercise regimen of Bruce Lee. They are commonly called swallowdives in English speaking countries.
The simple set of exercises of dand-baithak (push-up and squats) practiced in the villages of India has a beneficial effect on the spine. It takes off the strain from the spine and makes it fit to fight the other strains on the spine caused by the adoption of an erect posture.
The American College of Sports Medicine (2000) recommends using a push-up test to examine endurance on the upper-body musculature. For a male subject, assuming a dand position, with back straight, head up, and hands placed shoulder width apart, lowering his body with his chin touching the mat; the abdomen should not touch the mat
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