"All runners should add push ups in their training routines," says ASICS FrontRunner Linda Kinloch.
As with most active runners, Linda was forced to radically reassess her training schedule and programme as we South Africa went into Lockdown Level 5 back in March 2020. She decided to include the 100 push ups per day into her daily routine, which also included a kickboxing class and a garden jog.
"After a few weeks I could definitely feel the benefits," she says.
According to Linda, too many runners tend to neglect strengthening their upper body, focussing mainly lower-body strength exercises. "Upper-body strength helps take the pressure off your knees, hips and ankles as you fatigue," she says. "Even if you prefer a trail to a sweaty gym, commit to training your upper body at least twice a week. Push ups are an upper-body exercise you can try anywhere even in your own living room that will help your running and make you stronger overall."
Here are Linda's three top tips on how to make the most of push-ups in your routine:
1. PROPER FORM
Doing push ups without proper form can lead to an injury. It may cause you to experience lower back or shoulder pain if you don't do push ups properly. If push ups are too difficult at first, modify the exercise. Do them on your knees or even against a wall.
A proper push up starts from plank position with your hands slightly wider than your shoulders. Bend your elbows to a 90-degree angle, keeping them relatively close to your torso. Maintain a rigid torso and tight glutes throughout the exercise. Sagging of the hips indicate that you lack the strength necessary to complete the exercise properly. Extend your elbows to come back to the plank position to complete one repetition. If you cannot do a full push up on your toes, drop your knees to support you. You still want a rigid torso and to feel the fatigue set into your upper body. Improper form may do you more harm than good. When you sag your hips, you can aggravate lower back pain. Learn more here.
If you are new to push ups, set out to do 12 to 15 repetitions for one set. After a few weeks, add a second and even a third set, resting about 30 to 60 seconds between sets.
If you already strength train the upper body, use push ups to provide you with an anaerobic workout. This type of workout is super high-intensity and performed in short spurts. Do a fast round of push ups for 30 seconds and then move on to another intense strength exercise, such as pull ups, with no rest between them. The set should leave you breathless. Rest for about a minute and then repeat the cycle two or three times more. You’ll challenge your fast-twitch muscle fibres, the ones responsible for speed and explosive power. Training fast-twitch fibers can help you master sprints or a surge uphill.
To read Linda's full blog on how she added push-ups to her routine, click here.