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Do Pushups Strengthen the Back?

Do Pushups Strengthen the Back?


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Pushups are a traditional exercise to strengthen the upper body. The main reason exercise participants perform pushups is to strengthen the chest. The pectoral muscles are responsible for the arm extension, or the upward phase, of the pushup. While pushups are usually not included in a back-strengthening workout routine, your back receives benefits from the body-weight exercise.

Pushup

A proper pushup is performed with your hands and toes on the ground. Your palms are flat with your fingers facing forward or slightly turned in. Your body is in a straight line from your neck to your toes. Your legs, arms and back are all straight and you look down. As you inhale, bend your elbows and lower your body until your chest touches the floor. Try not to rest on the floor. Instead, exhale, straighten your arms and return to the upper-pushup position.

Common Misalignments

Often during a pushup, the back does not remain in a straight line. Instead, your upper back may round and your shoulder blades wing out to the sides. Or your lower back sags and the curve in your lower back is exaggerated. Another way to identify this is by an upward tilt of your hips. These misalignments show a weakness in the back.

Back

The pushup requires and improves strength in your erector spinae muscle. The erector spinae is located along both sides of the length of your spine. When this muscle is strong, your posture is tall and your spine is straight. During a pushup, the erector spinae remains in a constant contraction as it stabilizes your spinal position. It also helps keep your lower back from sagging.

Decline Pushups

You can change the angle of your pushup to change the muscular focus. When you perform your pushups on a decline, with your feet higher than your hands, you bring the muscles of your upper back into the exercise. You do this by placing your feet on an exercise ball, the edge of a weight bench, couch or bed, or by having a partner elevate your feet.



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