Every time the Baltimore Ravens score this afternoon during Super Bowl XLVII, my son and I will hit the floor and start cranking out push-ups.
One push-up for every point the Ravens have tallied to that point.
This is a game-day tradition Alex and I started a few years back as a way to inject a little exercise into 31/2 hours of watching football.
We started doing this during Washington State University games. Sadly, our beloved Cougs were so bad this season we actually got weaker.
The Seahawks fixed this problem at the end of the season. When their 50-17 thrashing of Buffalo on Dec. 16 called for a staggering 267 push-ups, Alex, 11, wisely opted out and I spent the week with a sore right elbow.
We really don’t have much of a rooting interest today, but it’s the last game of the season and like most of America, we will spend way too much time watching TV and eating.
So, we picked a side.
Why Baltimore? “It’s wrong to root for the Seahawks’ rival (San Francisco),” Alex said.
“Push-ups for points” isn’t our invention. College fans and mascots have done this for decades. Currently, the mascot best known for this is Donald, the University of Oregon’s duck.
Donald often does more than 200 push-ups per game. While much is made of this, not everybody is impressed. His big orange beak gets in the way, making it appear as if his arms bend only slightly.
Push-ups might be a common exercise, but visit any gym and you’re likely to see people using poor form.
Some people go too fast, some place their hands in the wrong place, some sag in the middle and some use movements that look X-rated.
I recently checked in with a couple of personal trainers to get some tips on doing push-ups correctly.
James Byerly, owner of Tumwater’s CrossFit Luminis, teaches his clients proper push-up form like this: “Feet together or no more than shoulder width apart, elbows close to the body, hands just outside shoulders slightly tilted outward. Straight and tight plank, chest to barely kiss the ground, arms fully extended at the top, forearms vertical. Tight core throughout.”
While you might think of push-ups as simply a chest and arm exercise, you’re actually working much more of your body. Your shoulders and abdominals also are getting a workout.
Janice Rosen, owner of Olympia’s Progressive Body Training, reminds her clients to squeeze their glutes during push-ups and to slightly tuck their tailbone. “Like a bad dog,” she says.
This allows you to have proper hip position and engage your core.
For clients returning to push-ups or trying them for the first time, Rosen has them start from their knees. Then she has them push back into their heels into a plank position with their arms extended.
To get the best results from your push-ups, she says go down slowly until your arms at a 90-degree angle, then drive up.
It’s not uncommon for some people to have poor form because of poor alignment in their back, hips and shoulders. Rosen says she see this frequently in people who have desk jobs.
In these cases, it’s often necessary to strengthen muscles with other exercises before you’re ready to do push-ups.
Rosen assesses her clients’ body movements before developing their exercise routines and recommends people do this before diving into a workout routine with push-ups.
If you experience pain when doing push-ups, guidance from a certified trainer might solve the problem.
“If you have pain, you need to stop,” Rosen said.
Rosen uses various techniques to ease clients into push-ups. She uses devices such as TRX suspension straps that allow her clients to change the angle of their push-ups to make them easier.
For those who suffer from wrist pain doing push-ups, changing the wrist angle by using the TRX straps or doing push-ups on dumb bells, kettle bells or push-up bars can solve the problem.
Push-ups are a great exercise if you do them right.
“You are going to be less prone to injury if you do push-ups,” Rosen said. “They’re great for building muscle balance.”
They’re also a good excuse to get off the couch on Super Bowl Sunday.Craig Hill’s fitness column runs Sundays. Submit questions and comments via firstname.lastname@example.org and twitter.com/AdventureGuys. Also get more fitness coverage at blog.thenewstribune.com/adventure and thenewstribune.com/fitness.