Education · Fitness · Inquiry · teaching

Passion Project: Research

Before I even completed any of my research on muscles and push ups, I already decided that I want to pattern my workouts so that I either run or do yoga on the A days, and on B days I will alternate upper body workouts. My hope is that running and yoga will prevent my upper body from getting too tired and stiff from constantly being pushed to develop stronger muscles. Wednesday will be my rest day, as muscles need to rest when you’re training them regularly, as well as Wednesday is observation day at school and the longest day of my week.

In my research, I found an article on md that states that the main muscles targeted in push ups are: pectoralis major, deltoids, triceps brachii, serratus anterior, abdominal, and coracobrachialis. The pectoralis major does most of the work to raise and lower your body during push ups. The deltoids help the pectoralis major push the body during a push up, and are smaller, but still crucial to all movements of the shoulder. Triceps brachii are at the back of the upper arm, help extend the arm outward, and is the most exerted muscle during push ups. Serratus anterior is under the armpit at the back of the chest and is activated during push ups. It help smooth the movements during push ups, and is strengthened by doing push ups. Coracobrachialis pushes the upper arm against the body during push ups, which is essential to performing a push up. Developing this muscle is necessary in building upper body strength. The abdominal muscles and core strength develop as the muscles are engaged in a push up. The push up is a prone position and the abdominal muscles help the body brace itself while in this position.

With those muscle groups in mind, I will be using fitness builder to design workout regimens that target those muscles in the hope that it will increase my strength and ability to do push ups. One way I always thought helped work your strength up to push ups was by doing push ups on your knees. Apparently this is NOT a good idea according to Coach Cassie Dionne. An article she wrote on breaking muscle stated that by doing the push up modification using your knees, you are only getting better at doing push ups on your knees. This is because you are not using or training the proper movement or muscles involved in doing a push up. Proper push up position includes feet together, glutes squeezed, back in a neutral position. Your back should be in a straight line and your glutes should not sag at the hip, with elbows at a 45-degree angle. Compared to the push ups on your knees, you take your glutes out of the equation completely. In this position you also can’t engage your lumbar spine, and you lead the lowered down movement with your elbows. This means you can’t easily end the position with your forearms vertical to the floor, which applies unnecessary stress to the elbow, wrist, and shoulder, which can lead to injury.

This whole time, I thought doing modified push ups on my knees would make me stronger, until I felt ready to do a full push up. Now I know that it’s better to modify the full push up so my body can learn to stabilize and work together in the proper position, using an incline push up. I can do this by using a workout bench, or counter, and slowly lower the angle until I am able to do push ups parallel to the ground. This article on breaking muscle emphasized the importance of a strong core as the pillar of a good push up, so I will make sure the workouts I design incorporates core exercises.

Now that I know the muscles I need to target to improve my strength and ability to do push ups, my next task is to design the best workout on fitness builder to work those muscles. I plan to do a controlled test by trying to do a push up before I begin my workout regimen to assess my current skill, and then continue my workout for a week. At the end of the week, I will be trying to do a set of push ups – modified and not – to assess my progress weekly, and report back here. I will also track my fitness via a fit bit, and try to log my food intake as much as possible, to identify patterns between strong/weak workouts and good/bad nutrition.






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