*Editor's note: Every week my colleague Ron Kaspriske, Golf Digest Fitness Editor, presents Fitness Friday on the Instruction Blog. He gives you a health and fitness tip or an exercise or stretch to get your body warmed up for the weekend. This week he explains why push-ups are great for your game and shows how to do them correctly. Look for Saturday Morning Tip tomorrow, and remember to follow me on Twitter @RogerSchiffman.
About a year ago, I contacted several top fitness experts across the U.S.--Mark Verstegen of Athletes' Performance, Randy Myers of Nike Golf, Gray Cook of Functional Movement Systems and Mike Boyle of Strengthcoach.com to name some--and asked them to give me their top-five exercises. As suspected, dead lifts appeared at the top of most lists because they are great total-body strengthening exercises.
But most everyone also gave kudos to a timeless classic--the push-up. It was refreshing to hear because the push-up is perhaps one of the simplest exercises to do. You can bang out 10 in between reading these paragraphs.(Ready? Go!) Unfortunately, most people seem to hate push-ups. Not sure why, other than they are fairly strenuous. Or maybe it's because the Nazi's used it as a form of torture during World War II (not joking). Whatever the reason, it's time to put the push-up back into your workout routine.
"I think there is no better upper-body exercise than a push-up," says Boyle, widely considered one of the best strength trainers in the U.S. "One thing that makes them great is that they are easily modified for different abilities. Simply change your angle. The push-up allows all the muscles used in an exercise like the bench press to be used in an exercise that is fundamental to core stability. Look at the plank and realize it is basically holding a push-up."
If you've never done them before, there are a few things to consider. Keep your back straight and parallel with the ground and your abdomen muscles contracted. Also support your lower-body weight on your toes. Beyond that, you can vary the exercise numerous ways. For golfers, I recommend a one-legged, med-ball push-up because it adds the dimensions of instability and lower-body strengthening. If you can do 20 regular push-ups, you should have no problem doing this. To watch a demonstration, click on the video below.