Do push ups count as functional strength training?

Answered by Edward Huber

Push-ups can definitely be considered as functional strength training. Functional training refers to exercises that mimic movements used in everyday activities or sports, and push-ups certainly fit the bill.

One of the key aspects of functional training is using movements that engage multiple muscle groups and joints simultaneously, rather than isolating specific muscles. Push-ups are a prime example of this, as they work not only the chest muscles (pectoralis major and minor), but also the shoulders (deltoids), triceps, and core muscles (abdominals, obliques, and lower back).

In addition, push-ups require stabilization of the shoulder girdle and activation of the scapular muscles, which are important for maintaining good posture and preventing injuries. This makes them highly functional for daily activities that involve pushing or lifting objects, such as carrying groceries, pushing a heavy door, or even lifting a child.

Furthermore, push-ups also engage the muscles of the upper back, including the rhomboids and trapezius, which are important for maintaining proper posture and preventing imbalances that can lead to shoulder and neck pain. By strengthening these muscles, push-ups can help improve overall posture and reduce the risk of postural-related issues.

Another aspect of functional training is the ability to adapt and progress the exercise to meet individual needs and goals. Push-ups can be modified in various ways to suit different fitness levels, from beginners to advanced athletes. For example, beginners can start with knee push-ups or incline push-ups using a bench or elevated surface, gradually increasing the difficulty by progressing to full push-ups on the toes or adding variations like diamond push-ups or plyometric push-ups.

Moreover, push-ups also challenge stability and balance, which are crucial components of functional fitness. By performing push-ups on unstable surfaces like a BOSU ball or with one hand on a medicine ball, you can further enhance your core strength and stability, as well as improve coordination and proprioception.

In my personal experience, incorporating push-ups into my training routine has greatly improved my functional strength and overall fitness. Not only have I noticed increased upper body strength and muscle definition, but I have also found that my posture has improved and I feel more confident in performing everyday tasks that require pushing or lifting.

Push-ups can definitely be considered as functional strength training due to their ability to engage multiple muscle groups, improve stability and balance, and mimic movements used in daily activities. Whether you are a beginner or advanced exerciser, push-ups can be adapted to suit your fitness level and goals, making them a versatile and effective exercise for building functional strength.