"Push days" are a great way to divide your workouts, Chrissy Signore, a personal trainer, says.
Signore says these exercises mostly train your chest, triceps, and shoulders.
She especially recommends movements like the push-up and chest press.
Focusing your workouts on pushlike movements, Signore said, allows you to both strengthen multiple muscle groups at the same time and improve how you perform similar movements in everyday life. She defined push exercises as any exercise that moves a mass or weight away from your body, or your body away from a mass. These exercises primarily target your pecs, shoulders, and triceps, Signore told Insider.
Many movements fall under the category of "push," she said, but there are a few standout push exercises that she thinks everyone should incorporate into their routine for their strength-building potential.
Signore shared some of her favorite push exercises with Insider, including the chest press and the overhead press.
Push-ups train an essential upper-body movement
Signore is the founder of the fitness program Correlation, which focuses on the connection between fitness and everyday life. Pushing is an incredibly important movement that we perform every day, she said. When we perform push exercises, Signore said we not only make these muscles stronger but also build neurological connections that make the movement easier.
The push-up is especially good at working this essential movement because it requires only a person's body weight, she said.
"It is helpful for everyday life to be able to push yourself away from things," she said. "No matter your age, from infancy to the end of being able to move, you need to be able to push yourself up."
The push-up is also great because it engages the pecs, shoulders, triceps, and core all at once, she added.
One way to think of a push-up is as a moving plank, she said, keeping your body tight and straight from your shoulders to your toes. To make the movement easier, she advises performing it on an incline with your hands on a wall or chair. Conversely, she said you could place your feet on an elevated surface to make the exercise more difficult.
The chest press will strengthen your pecs
In comparison with the push-up, the chest press more directly targets the chest, Signore said.
"You're pushing your chest forward, squeezing your shoulders back, not using your delts the way you would if you were just flat on the bench, and pushing that weight away from you," she said. "A barbell is going to let you lift more weight because it is stabilized across and focused on targeting those larger muscles, versus the dumbbells, which will kind of help you with any imbalances that you have as it focuses on those accessory muscles."
In terms of reps and weight, Signore said her rule of thumb was to make sure the last two reps in her set were almost unbearable but still doable. This will ensure you're getting the most from your workout.
Build your shoulders with the overhead press
The overhead press is similar to the chest press, Signore said, but changes the range of motion from horizontal to vertical, which engages your shoulders and upper back more, as well as your triceps.
"In addition to working your shoulders, you're still going to engage your core here because a lot of the movement is going to be about stabilizing those muscles," she said. "Arch your back to make sure you have your hips tucked under your pelvis and that you are activating your core."
If you're using a barbell, make sure your hands aren't too far apart because you won't get the full range of motion for the exercise. Your thumbs should be just wider than shoulder-width apart with your wrists straight instead of bent to avoid injury.
To push in a straight line above you, Signore advises to start with your head slightly back and to then bring it forward through the motion.
The chest fly is another great way to target your chest
The chest fly is another exercise that will activate and help strengthen your chest, Signore said. To perform the exercise, she said to lie on your back with dumbbells in either hand and your arms wide apart on either side, then squeeze your pecs as you bring your arms together in front of you.
You should also make sure not to use too much weight to start for this exercise because you can easily strain your arms, she said.
Signore said that these exercises were a great basis to start your push day, but it's important to play around and experiment to find workouts that feel best and ultimately help you work toward your goals.
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