What Are the Benefits of Wide Pushups?

by Steve Silverman

About Steve Silverman

Steve Silverman is an award-winning writer, covering sports since 1980. Silverman authored The Minnesota Vikings: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly and Who's Better, Who's Best in Football -- The Top 60 Players of All-Time, among others, and placed in the Pro Football Writers of America awards three times. Silverman holds a Master of Science in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism.

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Overview

Despite the popularity of trendy exercise routines and high-tech workout equipment, the basic pushup remains one of most effective tools for getting stronger and fitter. Both the U.S. Navy Seals and Army Rangers -- two of the most elite fighting units -- assign pushups to make sure all of their members are in top condition. To increase the challenge and target different muscles, do pushups in which you assume a wide arm position.

Upper Body Strength

When you are doing standard pushups, most of the emphasis is on the arms and shoulders. When you are doing wide pushups, you are using your pectoral muscles in your chest to help lift your body. This will build upper body strength that is useful in competitive sports and allow you to do tasks that involve strength with greater ease. Improved range of motion and strength in the upper body will result, says David Schuman, New Jersey-based speed and strength coach, former champion hurdler and owner of Schuman’s Speed Center. Bump up the number of reps to build endurance, he said.

Abdominal Muscles

When doing standard pushups, your abs get a minimal workout. However, when you are doing wide pushups, your body position tenses your abdominal muscles and forces them to contract with each up-and-down movement. As a result, you tend to burn more calories and work harder when exercising. This will help you develop stronger and firmer abdominal muscles.

Variety

Wide pushups can add a new dimension to your workout, preventing the boredom that comes from doing the same standard pushups every day, according to fitness expert Stew Smith, a former Navy Seal and author of several fitness books. Doing the same exercise on a regular basis also bores muscles, inhibiting them from growing to full potential. When you do standard pushups every day, the same muscles get the same workout. Switching things up by doing wide pushups wakes up muscles and encourages new growth.

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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.