Posted on October 03 2018
“Pushups have all the criteria of an amazing exercise,” Holland says. “You can do them anywhere, anytime, you can modify them in infinite ways, they work for everyone from beginner to advanced, they work multiple muscle groups at the same time and they’re super effective.”
As if that’s not enough, Holland adds that many people tend to focus on how much they can lift, but during the negative (lowering) part of an exercise, they tend to use gravity and momentum, rather than controlling a movement. Pushups force you to move more slowly, helping build more strength.
“The squat is a functional movement,” says exercise physiologist Fabio Comana, a faculty instructor for the National Academy of Sports Medicine. “We do it all day,” he says. Think about picking up your kids or lifting heavy groceries, sitting in a chair and standing up or hovering over a public toilet. They’re all squats.
Since we squat so often in daily life, we should squat at the gym, too. Plus, contrary to what you think, squats strengthen the muscles around your knees and lower back.
Nail it: Start off with your bodyweight until you perfect your form, then add weight. In both cases, follow Comana’s instructions:
- Engage your abs, which will stabilize your low back and help prevent back pain.
- Push your butt back, hinging at the hips first, then bend your knees to lower toward the floor. Allow your knees to travel forward. It’s OK if they move past your toes, but don’t go too far — your torso and lower leg should be parallel.
- Lower as far as you can without compromising this alignment, making sure the arches of your feet don’t collapse inward.