Yoga for Children

kids doing yogaYoga isn’t just for moms and dads! The practice of yoga can help center your child, leading them to maintain healthy bodies, improve their school life and help with speech development. Best of all, yoga provides the perfect opportunity to bond emotionally and spiritually with your child.

Your child might feel overwhelmed on a daily basis. Many children today are suffering from a lack of connection to their bodies, to their environment, and to themselves. Our information-saturated, hectic, and stimulus-rich culture pulls kids in many directions, splitting their attention. For many children, it has become too much for their young, developing minds to absorb and process.

More and more American children from all walks of life are overweight, have stress and anger issues, and have attention and learning problems. There is a real separation of mind and body—your child’s attention might be pulled outward toward the ever-increasing distractions of the external world. Overworked parents and overscheduled children often face isolation from their families and their communities. Rather than sitting down to dinner together, it is now quite common for children and parents to communicate mainly via text messaging and e-mail. Does any of this sound familiar?

As mindful parents and adults, we must give our children every tool possible to assist them in counteracting a culture and environment that is potentially hazardous to their health and well-being. Through the use of yoga tools, stories, and play, we can provide children with opportunities to grow physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, helping them connect with themselves and others with compassion, understanding, and clarity.

Healthy Bodies with yoga

In 2012, the CDC reported that childhood obesity had more than tripled in the past thirty years. Children are simply spending more time indoors and less time moving. Even if your child is active, she can still benefit from yoga-based movement. With regular practice, her muscles, bones, and joints will lengthen and strengthen as her overall flexibility is improved. In addition, all of your child’s major bodily systems are supported by movement and improved circulation, including the digestive, endocrine, immune, and respiratory systems. Yoga strengthens your child’s entire body!
Here are some recognized benefits that yoga can provide for your child’s body:

  • Assists neuromuscular development
  • Promotes the development of the vestibular system
  • Increases circulation, uptake of oxygen, and functioning of hormones
  • Encourages motor development on both sides of the body
  • Increases balance, coordination, and overall body awareness
  • Develops core strength, essential for posture and alignment
  • Reduces the risk of injury; improves performance in sports

Improving School Life

Anti-bullying, health and wellness, and character education are all popular topics in American education today. As standardized testing has become more common, so has performance anxiety and stress in students (and teachers). It is not surprising to note that across the world, yoga and mindfulness education are increasingly being incorporated into the classroom day to help address these concerns, and with great results.

Yoga, by nature, supports and maximizes the learning process. Students experience improved concentration and creative thinking, and due to improvement in executive functions, they are better able to prioritize and organize. By doing yoga with your child, you will help him build better relationships with other students by promoting a sense of connectedness. If your child is athletic, a yoga lifestyle will help him maximize his performance by improving his focus, strengthening his muscles, improving his flexibility, and fostering team cooperation. If your child experiences social anxiety, yoga can help instill a greater sense of self-knowing, self-worth, and confidence.

Here’s how yoga can benefit your child’s life at school. Yoga:

  • Brings students into the present moment, ready for learning
  • Encourages community and connectedness in the classroom
  • Helps create a feeling of confidence instead of competitiveness
  • Eases anxiety before test taking
  • Enhances focus, concentration, comprehension, and memory
  • Supports social and emotional learning

Yoga for Speech Development

While yoga is becoming wildly popular with kids everywhere, one significant benefit often overlooked by parents and educators is the aspect of speech development. “Yoga,” “yogurt,” or “woga” classes can help advance a young child’s speech development through slow, repetitive verbal instructions, songs, and the imitation of simple sounds found in nature.

Children with speech delays are often more physical in nature, especially boys. A movement class like yoga can pair physical motion with repetitive sounds, which will likely catch their attention more so than a simple, quiet conversation. For example, a preschooler who has not yet mastered sounding out letters like S and Z might enjoy slithering like a snake, not only attempting to “hiss” but also watching your mouth as you hiss and lower yourself to the ground in Cobra Pose. After repeating this pose in subsequent sessions, he will immediately recognize the word and sound that go along with the pose and hopefully gain the confidence to try to say it himself.

Butt exercises to reduce fat

This post reviews the best ways to lose butt fat. Losing fat from the butt is a common fitness goal. There are many ways a person can achieve this.

There are three major muscles in the butt. These are the gluteus maximus, the gluteus minimus, and the gluteus medius.

Glulteus muscles which make up the buttWhile it is not possible to spot-reduce fat loss in one particular area, cutting down on overall body fat while toning the butt muscles can lead to leaner, better-defined buttocks.

This article details exercises that help people lose fat throughout the body while adding shape to the butt and thigh muscles. We also list other methods that can help people achieve their desired body shape.

Exercises to reduce butt fat

Try the following exercises to lose fat from the butt and to tone the muscles in the thighs and glutes:

1. Running

running works the buttRunning is an excellent exercise for full-body weight loss. Running tones the leg and butt muscles, which gives the thighs and buttocks a more defined shape.

This aerobic activity also improves heart and lung function, and it strengthens the lower body. Also, aside from supportive shoes, it requires no special equipment.

Running is better than walking for fat loss, as it burns more calories. A 2012 study found that over 1,600 meters, people of average fitness burned 372.54 calories while walking and 471.03 calories while running.

However, the study authors conclude that even if a person is unable to take up running, walking is also a very good option for burning calories and fat compared with resting.

2. High-intensity interval training

treadmill for butt

Busy people who want to lose butt fat can take up high-intensity interval training (HIIT). According to a worldwide survey of fitness trends for 2018, HIIT is the most popular fitness trend globally.

HIIT involves putting maximum effort into one specific activity for a short period. This is followed by a longer period at a slower pace. HIIT sessions are intense workouts, so they tend to be shorter in duration than moderate-intensity activities.

For example, after a warmup period, HIIT may involve the following:

  • running on a treadmill at 7 miles per hour (mph) for 1 minute
  • running for 2 minutes at 5 mph
  • repeating this pattern for 15 minutes or so before cooling down

Research from 2011 suggests that HIIT may be more effective at reducing body fat than other types of exercise.

Another study reports that HIIT is a good strategy for controlling obesity because of its time-efficiency.

3. Step-climbing

stair climbing great for butt
Climbing steps is an easy way to tone the glutes while also keeping the heart and lungs healthy.

Step-climbing boosts strength and muscle tone in the butt and upper legs. There are various ways to work these muscles:

  • using stepping machines at a gym
  • walking up flights of stairs
  • hiking uphill
  • using a climbing or bouldering wall

Step-climbing can provide other health benefits, too. One small study from 2005 on 15 women found that climbing flights of stairs up to five times per day had a measurable impact on oxygen uptake and reduced low-density lipoprotein, or “bad,” cholesterol.

In this study, the women began by climbing a flight of 199 stairs once each day in week 1, then gradually increasing climbs to five times each day by week 7. They made no other dietary or lifestyle changes while taking part in this study.

4. Squats

squats are perfect workout for buttSquats are a major part of many exercise plans. This is likely due to their ability to work several muscles in the butt, legs, and abdomen at the same time.

One 2009 study, which appeared in the Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy, examined the effects of various exercises on the gluteus maximus and gluteus medius.

The scientists found that single-leg squats were a good option for activating both the gluteus maximus and the gluteus medius.

To perform a single-leg squat:

  • Extend the arms in front of the body.
  • Stand on the left leg and extend the right leg straight in front, as high as possible.
  • Slowly lower the butt as close as possible to the floor while keeping the leg elevated. The back should be straight and the left knee in line with the left foot.
  • Return to the starting position. Repeat several times before switching to the right leg.

If it is not possible to perform one-leg squats, regular squats are also effective. To do these:

  • Extend the arms in front of the body. Keep the feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Slowly lower the butt as close as possible to the floor, without losing balance. The back should be straight, and the knees should not travel out in front of the toes.
  • Return to the starting position. Repeat several times.
  • To increase the intensity, hold weights in the hands while squatting.

Another variation is the split-squat, during which a person performs squats with their legs apart. A small-scale 2017 study found that split-squats had the highest impact on the gluteus maximus, compared with deadlifts and good-mornings.

5. Lunges

lunges for butt

Lunges are another lower-body strength exercise that activates and tones the gluteus maximus. Variations include sideways, forward, and transverse lunges.

The basic forward lunge also works the thighs and calves. To perform a lunge:

  • Stand with the feet hip-distance apart.
  • Take a large step forward with the left leg.
  • Slowly lower the body, bending both knees to 90 degrees. Do not allow the right knee to touch the ground or the left knee to travel past the toes of the left foot.
  • Return to the standing position. Repeat several times.

6. One-leg deadlift

One-leg deadlift with weight great for butt

Deadlifts work the lower body, improve balance, and strengthen the abdominal muscles and lower back. Doing one-leg deadlifts also activates the gluteus muscles.

Follow these instructions to do a one-leg deadlift:

  • Stand on one leg with the hands by the sides.
  • Stretch the other leg out behind. Keep the back flat and the shoulders back.
  • Lean forward from the hips until there is a stretch in the hamstrings. Do not let the chest drop below the hips.
  • Return to the starting position. Repeat several times, then switch sides.

If this is too intense, lightly rest the non-supporting leg on the floor. To increase the exercise intensity, use hand-held weights.

7. Side-lying hip abduction

Side-lying hip abductions work the butt

Side-lying hip abduction exercises are effective for strengthening the gluteus medius muscle. To do this exercise:

  • Begin by lying on one side and supporting the head with the arm or hand. Keep the knees straight and feet together.
  • Slowly raise the top leg as high as possible without turning the pelvis backward or forward.
  • Lower the leg slowly to return to the starting position. Repeat several times on each side.

Use ankle weights to increase the intensity of this exercise.

8. Lateral band walk

Strengthen and stabilize the hips and knees with a lateral band walk, which also works the gluteus medius muscle. This exercise is a useful warmup activity before running, jumping, and other activities.

To do the lateral band walk:

  • Take a resistance band and place it under the balls of the feet. Ensure that the band stays flat against the shoes.
  • Stretch the legs to shoulder-width apart. Distribute the weight evenly over both feet.
  • Bending the knees slightly to achieve a semi-squat position, squeeze the glutes and core muscles.
  • With one foot, take a small step of around 3 inches to the side. Move t

Cardio versus weights

Cardiovascular (cardio) workouts and weightlifting (weights) are two types of exercise that differ in intensity, duration, and the groups of muscles that they use. They also burn calories in different ways. While cardiovascular exercise helps the body burn more calories per session, lifting weights allows the body to burn more calories in the long term.

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) defines aerobic exercise as any activity that uses large muscle groups, is possible to maintain continuously, and is rhythmic.

Cardiovascular exercise (cardio) is a form of aerobic activity. It increases breathing rate, burns calories quickly, and improves overall endurance. Examples of aerobic exercise include cycling, dancing, jogging, and swimming.

The ACSM define anaerobic exercise as intense physical activity of short duration, which uses fuel from energy sources within the contracting muscles rather than relying on inhaled oxygen. Lifting weights and sprinting are both examples of anaerobic exercise.

Strength training, including weightlifting, helps people gain muscle, which speeds up metabolism and burns more fat in the long term.

How long do the effects last?

jumping rope cardio
Cardiovascular exercise has a more lasting effect than weightlifting.

Cardio generally has a less prolonged aftereffect than lifting weights.

In many studies, experts use “excess post-exercise oxygen consumption” (EPOC) to measure this effect.

For example, the researchers working on a 2014 study used it to measure the positive effects of cardio on men with metabolic syndrome. EPOC refers to the amount of oxygen that the body requires to return to its pre-exercise or resting state.

Lifting weights usually lead to higher EPOC levels than cardio, resulting in more significant muscle breakdown. This means that the body continues to burn calories even after completing a weightlifting workout.

A 2018 study looking at the effect of resistance training in sedentary adult women found that this activity, which includes weightlifting, elevated the participants’ overall basal metabolic rate (BMR) for up to 48 hours. The BMR is the number of calories that the body burns at rest.

Which anaerobic exercises burn the most calories?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend the following high-intensity anaerobic exercises to burn calories effectively:

  • jogging or sprinting
  • competitive sports, such as football, basketball, and soccer
  • jumping rope
  • inline skating or rollerblading at a fast speed
  • cross-country skiing
  • swimming laps

Calculating the calories that weightlifting burns

Online calculators can help a person establish how many calories they burn, taking their weight and physical activity of choice into account.

For example, the Calorie Burn Rate Calculator outlines various calorie burn counts depending on body weight and the type and intensity of physical activity.

Similarly, the Omni Calculator uses the activity type and duration to estimate the total number of calories that a person burns. It also helps predict how much weight a person can expect to lose.

Another useful calorie calculator is Cornell University’s METS to Calories Calculator. The term MET refers to “Metabolic Equivalent of Task,” or metabolic equivalent. This calculator works out the number of calories that a person burns by assessing their body weight, activity level (METS), and the duration of the physical activity.

Making the most of your exercise program

stretching before cardio
Stretching before and after exercising can help prevent muscle strain.

Regardless of the chosen form of exercise, people can use the following safety tips to help make sure that they maximize the effectiveness of their workout:

  • Take 5 to 10 minutes to warm up and cool down by doing stretches.
  • Make gradual increases in physical activity, especially if not very physically active.
  • Rest between strenuous workouts, and do not exercise too much if feeling faint or ill.
  • Do not rush to lift heavy weights. Correct form and strength building takes time, so start with light weights to master the techniques.
  • Do not do any high-intensity exercise in hot, humid conditions as this can lead to severe dehydration.
  • Stop exercising if signs of overheating occur, such as a headache, dizziness, nausea, cramps, or heart palpitations.
  • Wear clothes and shoes that are suitable for the type of physical activity.

Takeaway of cardio vs. weights

Both cardio and weightlifting exercises have advantages and disadvantages, and their benefits and effects vary between people.

Evidence shows that lifting weights burns more fat and has more promising long-term results. However, the type of exercise that is better ultimately depends on a person’s goals, physical fitness, and capabilities.

Most experts recommend a combination of the two for overall health and fitness.

Single workout metabolic benefits

A single workout offers lasting metabolic benefits.  New research in mice finds that a single workout activates a brain circuit associated with a lower appetite, lower blood sugar levels, and better metabolism. Moreover, this effect lasted for 2 days after the workout. The findings may help improve blood sugar metabolism in people with diabetes.

Single workout boxing routine
A single workout can offer long-lasting metabolic benefits.

According to the most recent estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 100 million people in the United States are currently living with diabetes or pre-diabetes.

In excess of 30 million U.S. adults have diabetes, and more than 84 million have pre-diabetes. According to the CDC, pre-diabetes can evolve into diabetes within 5 years.

Controlling blood sugar levels with physical activity and diet is the key to managing or preventing diabetes. However, new research suggests that we may need less physical activity than we might think to achieve these health benefits. This means that the effects of a single workout appear to offer great benefits to the individual.

Dr. Kevin Williams, a neuroscientist at the University of Texas Southwestern in Dallas, is the corresponding and last author of the new study. Dr. Williams and colleagues examined the effects of a single bout of exercise on two types of neurons in mice.

The neurons make up the so-called melanocortin brain circuit, which humans share with rodents.

Scientists have linked POMC neurons with a lower appetite, reduced blood sugar levels, and a more active metabolism. NPY/AgRP neurons, on the other hand, have an association with an increase in appetite and a slower metabolism.

Dr. Williams and colleagues published their findings in the journal Molecular Metabolism.

How exercise improves glucose metabolism

Scientists have previously studied the properties of the melanocortin brain circuit in relation to diet and fasting, but they have not investigated how physical exercise affects these neurons.

So, Dr. Williams and team examined the brain activity and neuronal firing rate in transgenic mice after a workout consisting of three, consecutive, 20-minute sessions of treadmill running.

They found that the single bout of exercise activated rodents’ POMC neurons, but deactivated the appetite-boosting NPY/AgRP neurons. The scientists noticed these neuronal changes lasted for up to 2 days.

“It doesn’t take much exercise to alter the activity of these neurons,” explains Dr. Williams. The researchers also trained the mice for periods ranging from zero to 10 days and found that the neuronal effects lasted longer if the training period was longer.

Finally, the metabolism-boosting POMC neurons stayed active for longer if they also expressed leptin receptors. Leptin is a metabolic hormone that previous research has shown is of benefit to the synapses of POMC neurons.

Based on our results, we would predict that getting out and exercising even once in a semi-intense manner can reap benefits that can last for days, in particular with respect to glucose metabolism.”

Dr. Kevin Williams

Single workout findings may benefit people with diabetes

The rodents also lost their appetite after the workout. This effect lasted for up to 6 hours after working out. Dr. Williams comments, “This result may explain at the neural circuit level why many people don’t feel hungry immediately after exercise.”

Dr. Williams continues to comment on the benefits of the findings for metabolic conditions. “This research is not just for improving fitness,” he says, adding, “A better understanding of neural links to exercise can potentially help a number of conditions affected by glucose regulation.”

It is possible that activating melanocortin neurons may hold therapeutic benefits for patients one day, especially for [people with diabetes] who need improved blood-glucose regulation.”

Dr. Kevin Williams

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Applying this concept is essential in establishing an effective weekly workout routine.  No matter which time of the day you prefer to workout, this research clearly points out that the effects of a single workout lasts for two days.  Establishing proper rest time between workouts therefore goes a long way in taking advantage of the long-lasting effects of the single workout.

When properly spaced, the body reacts in a positive way and metabolic systems adjust accordingly.  It does not matter if you are trying to control diabetes, the point is that those who do not suffer from this malady can keep it at bay by being conscientious that the single workout concept does work and the research posted here proves it!

Exercise can become habit

Make exercise a habit today. Once you’ve fallen out of the habit of exercising on a daily or weekly basis, getting back into the routine can be brutal. Even when you know working out would lead to more energy and a toned beach body, it can be hard to make yourself get off the couch and head back to the gym or yoga studio.  Sometimes you just need a little inspiration to take that first step in the right direction. Reminding yourself of the many health benefits of exercise, setting weight-loss goals, or picturing how you want to look in your wedding dress or tuxedo can help get you in the right mindset. Then it’s all about finding time to fit in workouts and sticking to that schedule as much as possible to build new habits.

How to get there

Here is a great example of how to make exercise a habit that needs to be understood by those reading this post.  I have a friend who within two years went from 240 pounds to 180 – a net loss of 60 pounds! How did he do it? He made drastic changes to his lifestyle, both in diet and exercise.  He did not kill himself in the gym, merely got on the treadmill and power walked his way slowly until he was able to do 50 minutes at a 12-degree incline, peaking at 4.2 miles per hour. He religiously did this three times a week. It became such a habit that he was able to incorporate it into his weekly routine and it became second nature.  He stopped drinking beer and all sugary beverages.  He adopted a diet that was more agreeable to his body.

Hurricanes can make one exercise without knowing it

Then, a category five hurricane hit and the gym closed for a month.  All of the dietary sacrifices went out the window!  Due to food shortages at supermarkets, he was forced to now eat processed meats, canned goods, and other foods which had been given up long ago.  Bananas, apples, oranges, nuts, vegetables, lean meats and other essential food groups were in short supply.   The days were extremely hot and humid, temperatures peaking at 106 degrees due to the deforestation caused by the hurricane.  Potable and drinking water was also a precious commodity.

So how did he stay in shape? There was plenty of manual work to do during the recovery after the hurricane!  There was plenty of debris to collect and carry away. Gasoline and diesel containers had to be negotiated every day, sometimes several times per day.  The work was intense and sweating profuse.  His place of work was flooded and he spent many hours bailing out water, throwing away more debris until mountains of trash accumulated outside his workplace. When he was able to work out, he followed these simple exercises which did not require his trusted treadmill.  The family organized itself and cooked on a small gas stove.  Small generators were obtained to keep refrigerators running a few hours per day.

When all was said and done, he had actually lost more weight due to the unintended exercise.  Perhaps the anxiety of a bad situation and the survival mode one had to go into was a factor. But this is just an extreme situation, which shows that it can be done!

Make a deal with yourself to start todexerciseay. Go on a short run or a long walk, sign up for a weekly kickboxing or yoga class, or turn on a brief fitness video. Carving out a few minutes per day is the perfect way to ease yourself into a regular routine again. Before you know it, you’ll be pushing yourself to work out a few minutes longer or run another mile farther. You may even find that you crave those workouts and the “me time” and chance to clear your mind that they provide.  Even in times of distress, our bodies will continue to try to accommodate routines that benefit our overall well-being.

 

Move More for Better Health

Please move more, even just a little bit, say new Physical Activity Guidelines.

Bicycling allows one to move more

It’s now easier than ever to get your recommended amount of exercise, according to new physical activity

guidelines released Monday by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). While the total number of minutes per week has not changed, one important detail has: Now, the government says, every little bit of activity—even just one or two minutes at a time—counts. In other words: Please move more!

The update, officially known as the second edition of the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, was announced at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions meeting. Previously, the guidelines stated that physical activity must be done in increments of 10 minutes or more to count toward your weekly total.

“Some physical activity is better than none,” the updated guidelines state. “Adults who sit less and do any amount of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity gain some health benefits.”

The change is important, experts say, because many Americans simply aren’t meeting the guidelines set for adults—to get at least 150 to 300 minutes of moderate physical activity, or 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous activity, per week. According to research published in JAMA with the guidelines, only 26% of men and 19% of women are getting that much.

RELATED: Five exercises which burn more calories

The guidelines (original and updated) recommend that children ages 6 to 17 get 60 minutes or more of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity every day, but only 20% of adolescents meet the recommendations for their age groups. And now, for the first time, the guidelines make a recommendation for children ages 3 to 5—that they should be physically active throughout the day.

“The new guidelines demonstrate that, based on the best science, everyone can dramatically improve their health just by moving more—anytime, anywhere, and by any means that gets you active,” said Admiral Brett P. Giroir, MD, assistant secretary for health, in an HHS press release. The guidelines cite research suggesting that an estimated $117 billion in annual health care costs, and about 10% of premature deaths, are associated with not meeting these daily and weekly activity goals.

They also list several benefits of physical activity that have been discovered since the initial Physical Activity Guidelines were introduced in 2008. These include improved bone health, weight status, and cognitive function for children; reduced risk of eight types of cancers (up from two in 2008); brain health benefits; reduced anxiety and depression risk; improved sleep quality; and reduced risk of falls for older adults. Physical activity can also reduce the risk of health complications for pregnant women and people with chronic medical conditions.

Ideally, the guidelines say, adults should get a mix of different types of activity, including moderate aerobic activity (like walking), vigorous aerobic activity (like running), and muscle-strengthening activities (like weight training). All three of these activities are good for your muscles and for your heart, research shows. For example, a recent University of Iowa study published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise found that lifting weights can reduce risk of heart attack or stroke by 40 to 70%, and it took less than one hour a week to see the biggest benefits.

RELATED: Make exercising a habit today

The new guidelines also acknowledge that there are immediate health benefits attainable from a single bout of activity—such as reduced anxiety and blood pressure, improved sleep quality, and improved insulin sensitivity. Overall, the guideline authors wrote in JAMA, the evidence is clear: “Physical activity fosters normal growth and development and can make people feel better, function better, sleep better, and reduce the risk of many chronic diseases.”

Of course, most health experts have been singing this tune for quite a while—and we’ve long been proponents of the idea that it is important to move more as every little bit of exercise counts. That’s why it’s so important to sit less, at work and at home; to take more steps every day; move more and to find creative ways to sneak in physical activity, even when you’re not doing an official heart-pumping, sweat-inducing workout.

Pushups anybody?

The pushup is a simple exercise that can strengthen and tone many of the muscles of the upper body and core. There are many variations of the pushup that suit a range of abilities and focus on different sets of muscles.

In this article, we look at which muscles pushups work and some of the benefits of doing pushups. We also provide a guide to eight different types of pushup.

Which muscles do pushups work?

The muscles in the upper body do most of the work when a person does pushups. These muscles are:

  • chest muscle group, including the pectoralis major and pectoralis minor
  • shoulder muscle group, including the deltoid major and deltoid minor
  • upper and middle back muscles, including the latissimus dorsi, rhomboids, and trapeze muscles
  • biceps, at the front of the upper arm
  • triceps, at the back of the upper arm
  • serratus anterior, which sits on the side of the chest beneath the upper arm

However, pushups require many other muscles in the body to work to keep the body in a rigid plank position. These muscles may include:

Benefits of doing pushups

There are many benefits to regularly doing pushups, including:

Burning calories

Doing pushups can be a powerful full-body workout. They use up a large amount of energy in a short period because the movements require large muscle groups to lift and hold much of the body’s weight.

The more pushups a person does, the more calories they burn.

Improving cardiovascular health

Doing pushups uses large muscle groups to alternately lift and lower much of the body’s weight, which increases the heart rate. Raising the heart rate during exercise helps strengthen the heart muscle, enabling it to pump more oxygenated blood to the lungs and throughout the body.

Tiny blood vessels called capillaries, which supply blood from arteries to tissues and organs, also widen to allow for better blood flow.

Doing exercise that raises the heart rate can help:

  • lower blood pressure
  • regulate blood sugar and insulin levels
  • reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer
  • lower body weight or maintain a healthy weight, alongside a calorie-controlled diet

Protecting the shoulder joint

When people use the correct technique, pushups can help build up strength in the muscles around the shoulder joint. The muscles and tendons in the shoulder hold the upper arm bone in the socket.

When the muscles are weak, stress or injury to the shoulder can result in damage to the muscles and tendons.

Easy to do

Pushups are a simple exercise that requires very little or even no equipment, so a person can easily do them as part of an at-home workout. There are also many pushups variations to suit people of different strengths and abilities.

8 types of pushup

Below is a guide to eight different types of pushup. The exercises are in order of difficulty from the easiest to the most challenging.

1. Wall pushup

Wall pushups gif
Image credit: CDC, 2012.

Wall pushups are suitable for beginners or anyone with a shoulder injury. This type of pushup helps build shoulder and chest strength but places a reduced load on the muscles.

Muscles worked: arms, shoulders, and chest.

  1. Stand in front of a wall, just over an arm’s length away. Feet should be shoulder-width apart.
  2. Bring the hands to shoulder height. Lean forward, extend the arms, and place the hands flat on the wall. Hands should also be shoulder-width apart.
  3. Inhale and bend the elbows, lowering the body toward the wall. During this movement, squeeze the core and buttocks to maintain a strong, straight position.
  4. Pause for 1 second and then push off the wall with the arms, keeping the hands on the wall. The feet should remain flat on the floor. If the heels come up, move slightly closer to the wall.

Try to do 3 sets of 12 repetitions, reaching a total of 36 pushups. Take a short break between sets.

2. Modified pushup

Senior woman doing modified pushup outdoors using knees

The modified pushup is for people who want a more challenging exercise than the wall pushup but are not quite ready for a standard pushup. When doing this pushup, focus on tightening all the muscles to maintain a stiff, straight body.

Muscles worked: arms, shoulders, chest, and serratus anterior.

  1. Start on all fours, with the knees and toes touching the floor. Hold the legs and feet together.
  2. Look down at the floor to maintain a neutral head position. Place the hands below the shoulders, keeping the arms straight.
  3. Breathe in. While engaging the core and buttocks muscles, bend the elbows to lower the chest as close to the floor as possible. Pause here for 1 second.
  4. Breathe out. Push the arms straight to lift the body off the floor and back into the original kneeling position. Make sure that the back does not sag, the core remains tight, and the buttocks do not lift into the air.

Repeat the exercise 12 times and then do an additional 2 sets, with short breaks between them. This will make a total of 36 pushups.

3. Standard pushup

Gif of man doing pushups
Image credit: Frank C. Müller, 2006.

The standard pushup requires more work than the modified pushup because it does not involve using the knees to help support the body weight.

Muscles worked: arms, shoulders, chest, and serratus anterior.

  1. Start on all fours, but extend the legs so that the knees do not touch the floor. Tuck in the pelvis and keep the head in a neutral position by looking down at the floor. Place the hands under the shoulders and keep the arms straight. This is known as the plank position.
  2. Breathe in. While engaging the core and buttocks muscles, bend the elbows to lower the chest as close to the floor as possible. Pause here for 1 second.
  3. Breathe out while pushing the arms straight to lift the body off the floor and back into the plank position. Make sure that the back does not sag, the core remains tight, and the hips do not lift into the air.

Try to do 3 sets of 12 pushups.

4. Wide pushup

Woman doing wide pushups

The wide pushup is only slightly different to the standard pushup. It involves widening the distance between the hands, which places more focus on the chest muscles.

Muscles worked: chest, shoulders, and back muscles.

  1. Get into the plank position, as in the standard pushup, but place the hands further out to the side.
  2. Follow the same technique as the standard pushup for lowering and raising the body while tightening the core and buttocks. The elbows will point further out to the side as the arms bend.

Try to do a total of 36 pushups, dividing them into 3 sets with short breaks between.

5. Narrow pushup

Man doing narrow pushups

The narrow pushup is another variation of the standard pushup, but it is usually more difficult. It reduces the distance between the hands, which means that the arm muscles have to work harder.

Muscles worked: triceps and chest muscles.

  1. Get into the plank position but, this time, place the hands closer together and directly below the chest.
  2. Follow the same technique as the standard pushup for lowering and raising the body while tightening the core and buttocks. The elbows should tuck back into the body as the arms bend and straighten.

Do 3 sets of 12 repetitions to reach a total of 36 pushups.

6. Elevated pushup

Man doing elevated pushups outdoors

The elevated pushup position raises the feet above the body, meaning that a person needs more strength to get back into a plank position. A person can increase the elevation over time as their strength improves.

Muscles worked: shoulders, upper back, and triceps.

  1. Start in the plank position and then raise the lower half of the body by placing the toes on a sturdy object, such as a box, chair, or bench.
  2. Place the hands underneath the shoulders, keeping the arms straight.
  3. Breathe in. Engage the core and buttocks muscles and bend the elbows to lower the chest as close to the floor as possible. Pause here for 1 second.
  4. Breathe out. Push the arms straight to lift the body off the floor and back into the plank position. Make sure that the back does not sag, the core remains tight, and the hips do not lift into the air.

Again, aim for a total of 36 pushups, dividing them into 3 sets of 12 repetitions with a short rest before each new set.

7. Clap pushup

Man doing clap pushups.

The clap pushup, which is a type of plyometric pushup, is one of the most demanding types of pushup. A person can try this once they are very confident in their upper body strength.

The clap pushup can help increase muscle strength, power, and body awareness.

Muscles worked: shoulder, chest, and arms.

  1. Begin in the plank position with the hands slightly wider apart than the shoulders.
  2. Breathe in. While engaging the core and buttocks muscles, bend the elbows to lower the chest as close to the floor as possible.
  3. Breathe out. In one smooth movement, forcefully push the body upward by straightening the arms and lift the hands off the floor, bringing them together to clap once.
  4. Land with the hands back on the floor and a soft bend in the elbows.

This type of pushup requires a lot of strength, but a person will find that they build up endurance over time.

For this exercise, it is best to start with 5 to 10 repetitions over 3 to 5 sets. Rest sufficiently between sets to allow the body to recover.

8. Pike pushup

The pike pushup is another demanding pushup variation that loads more weight onto the shoulders and triceps when pushing back up.

Muscles worked: shoulder, serratus anterior, upper back, and triceps.

  1. Start on all fours with the hands placed shoulder-width apart, the heels off the ground, and the head looking down. Lift the buttocks into the air, keep the arms straight, and bend at the hips to form an upside down V shape. This is a similar position to the Downward Dog in yoga.
  2. Breathe in. While engaging the core and buttocks muscles, bend the elbows to lower the head and let it gently touch the floor, if possible.
  3. Breathe out. Push the arms straight to raise the head and shoulders back to the starting position.

A person can try using a yoga block or something similar if they are unable to touch the floor with their head. For this pushup, it is best to begin with short sets of 1 to 5 repetitions and then work up to larger sets of 8 to 12 repetitions.

Takeaway

Pushups are a type of exercise that uses the weight of the body to work the large muscle groups and raise the heart rate. As these simple exercises do not require any special equipment, a person can easily incorporate them into their home exercise routine.

There are also many pushup variations to suit different strengths, fitness levels, and needs. As a person becomes stronger and increases their endurance, they can progress to more advanced types of pushup.

Exercises which Burn More Calories

In this post we talk about five exercises which burn more calories.   Isolating muscles is so outdated. Unless you’re rehabbing from an injury or working to strengthen a weaker part of your body, the rule of thumb should be to work as many muscles as possible with each exercise (while of course maintaining good form). The more muscles you can incorporate into each set, the more effective and efficient your workout will be.

You don’t need more time to work out; you just need more intensity in your exercises. By swapping these five simple exercises, you can maximize your effort and calorie burn while minimizing your time spent at the gym.

Squats instead of the leg press machine

While a leg press is good for isolating your quads, it leaves something to be desired as a total-body routine. The truth is you have to add so much more weight on a leg press machine to get the same effect that squatting vertically would have. And whereas the leg press includes little to no stabilizer muscle involvement (because the machine gives you total upper body support), squatting forces you to recruit those stabilizer muscles groups in order to complete each rep. That is, your hip adductors (inner thighs) to keep your knees spaced shoulder-width apart, as well as your ab muscles to hold your torso in place as the knees bend. Talk about a full body exercise. Don’t forget to keep the knees right on top of the heels as you squat down for less pressure on the joints and you’ll really feel those hamstrings and glutes fire.

Squat exercises

Plank on a BOSU ball instead of crunch exercises

In terms of overall total body effectiveness, we all know that the plank is superior to the crunch. By holding your entire body in an isometric contraction you’re strengthening everything from your abs and glutes to your legs, back, and chest. But we’re cranking it up a little further. Adding some sort of balancing factor to your plank’in this case a BOSU ball will have your whole body, especially your core, feeling the burn in no time. Simply place your forearms on the rounded side while you do your plank. You can also try them with your arms on the flat side. Once you master holding your BOSU ball plank for at least 30 seconds, start adding in some variations slow mountain climbers and then adding a twist to the opposite side as you bring the knee into the chest are just a few to get your mind working. Any variation after that is fair game. Get creative!

Plank exercise

Pull-ups instead of bicep curls

Despite popular opinion, a pull up is a much more effective way of targeting those guns than a typical curl would be. Plus, with a pull-up, you’re working your entire upper body and engaging your core muscles too. The key is intensity. You can’t cheat a pull up; you either got it or you don’t.  And don’t get discouraged if you can only muster one or two to start, know that you are still exhausting your muscles and therefore building strength. If the thought of even one seems daunting, try wrapping a resistance band around the bar and hook your feet (or bent knees) into it for some assistance getting up. Then, once you become more proficient you can take the band away and start to add more repetitions to your exercises.

Pull-up exercisesPull-up exercises

VersaClimber instead of the bike

If you are one of those people who loves to sit on the bike and occupy your upper body with a book or magazine while your lower body does all the work, listen up. Cardio success is not about the number of calories burned during your 45-minute session. It’s about elevating your heart rate enough for a prolonged period of time (about 20 minutes at 80% or higher) to achieve the “afterburn” effect, boosting your metabolism so you continue to burn additional calories throughout that day and the next. The VersaClimber is a great option because it incorporates upper and lower body movements at the same time, which not only keeps you engaged in the workout but also means you can cut your time spent on the machine in half. So, give it a try. In addition to preventing boredom, switching up your cardio routine will keep your body guessing and you on track to achieving your fitness goals.

Versaclimber exercises

Dumbbell bench routine instead of traditional bench press

Contrary to popular belief, the bench press is not the best move for the upper body. While it may do a good job of isolating a few specific muscles, using two dumbbells instead of the traditional bar will increase your range of motion and recruit more muscles in the shoulders and back as well. Not only that, but you can add some core work into the equation by alternating arms one at a time to challenge your balance and force those abs to join the party. If you really want to kick it up a notch, try switching out the bench for a Swiss Ball and get some more stabilizers involved!

Swiss Ball exercises