12 Days of Fitness Challenge: Day 1 - Push Ups

On the first day of Fitness, my trainer gave to me... (sorry, I had to).  Happy first day of the 12 Days of Fitness, everybody!  I hope you're as excited as I am to get these exercises started!  Today's exercise is the traditional push up.  I know, I know, push ups?  Everyone seems to have a love-hate relationship with the push up.  So, why are we starting off with them?  Well, for starters, they're a great way to engage your entire body in one move: shoulders, chest, abdominals, quads and glutes to name a few!  They don't require any equipment and use a limited amount of space, so feel free to "drop and give me 50" right in your own living room!  (Kidding about the 50...)

Now, I think the traditional push up is one of the most common exercises that people do with poor form:  

  • Unengaged core = sagging lower back, which can lead to low back pain;
  • Chin tucked into the chest, looking at the ground = obstructed airway and therefore less oxygen to the muscles;
  • Butt up in the air = unnecessary additional pressure on your shoulders

 I'd like to teach you the proper way to do a push up - not only form, but also your breathing technique:

  • Start in a high plank position, hands directly underneath your shoulders (pictured below, top)  
  • Engage your abdominals so your back is stabilized, and keep your spine in one straight line from head to low back  
  • Lower yourself to the floor keeping that position throughout the move; as you do so, breathe IN  
  • As you push yourself up (keeping proper form throughout), breathe OUT (somewhat forcefully) 

How'd that feel?  Wondering how many to do?  For almost all of the exercises in this challenge, that's going to be up to you!  I'd like you to do the maximum amount you can.  For those of you who are already in a fitness regimen, start from the traditional push up position (pictured below, A & B).  If you're just starting out, instead of being up on your toes, bring your knees to the floor (pictured below, C & D).  Remember the same rules apply for form: spine aligned, core engaged, head in a neutral position to allow oxygen to the working muscles.  If you get through 5, great!  10?  Awesome!  20?  Wow!  Keep going until you start to lose form (i.e. if any of the "poor form" points start to happen).  Once your form starts to suffer, stop.  Take a break and let your arms rest.  Now, if you did your first round from the traditional position, I want you to try to do a few more from your knees (pictured bottom).  If you started from your knees, try to do a few more from the same position.  I know you can do it!

Rules for today's challenge:

  1. Get through the push up sequence twice today.  That means doing one set until failure (loss of proper form from both traditional and knees positions), then some hours later at your choosing, do another set.  You can do these in the office, at home in your living room (as shown), or even if you're traveling!
  2. Make sure you check in and report how you're doing!  Use #12daysfit on social media and take a picture if you'd like (I'd love to see you demonstrating proper form)!  If you're not on social media, comment below on this post with your progress!  I'll be checking in, too. :)

I hope your holiday week is off to a great start!  If you're not on the mailing list for the challenge yet, don't worry!  It's not too late to sign up!  Check it out here and make sure to keep your eyes peeled for subscriber-only emails with fun mini challenges, motivational tips, and more!  Now, let's get that first round of push ups started! :)

12 Days of Fitness Challenge Announcement!

Hi Everyone!  I've been MIA recently on the blog, but that's partly because I am working on some exciting new fitness challenges for you all!  I have many that are a work in progress and will be starting in the new year, so you have some fun and exciting things to look forward to!

The first one, though, is ready to launch!  The "12 Days of Fitness" challenge will start Monday, December 22, 2014 and will go through the new year to Saturday, January 3, 2015.  Check out the page here for more information and to sign up!  I firmly believe that the best gift you can give your loved ones is yourself, and the best gift you can give yourself is health.  So get your friends and family involved in becoming healthier by being more active this holiday season!

That's it for my post this week.  I likely won't be posting next Sunday as my Group Fitness Instructor certification exam is that following Monday so I'll be cramming all day every day from now until then.  Make sure to sign up for the challenge, and pass the word along to friends and family.  :)  In the meantime, remember to check out the other workouts and motivational tips posted here and stay tuned for some exciting new fitness adventures!  Here's to a healthy and happy holiday season ahead!