You do know I’m kidding, right? I just saw ANOTHER article, this time for “The Best Arm Exercise”. You can insert any body part, and there’s one a week. “6 Best Ab Moves”, “Rock your Rear with this Tushie Exercise”. I have nothing against people exercising. You know that. My problem is there is no one best or 6 best exercises. Why? We aren’t all the same.
The article that got my goat this morning was featuring a close arm push up with your hands making a diamond on the floor. That is a great exercise. I’ve done them, they are really tough. HOWEVER, none of my clients or class members could do one. Most of the people I work with are women. Most women cannot do push ups at all. That’s the first thing I work on if the person is fit enough and has no shoulder or back issues, is getting them to the point where they can do push ups. Most of the “best” exercises come from studying muscle activation. The ones that activate muscles the most are usually the hardest, not achievable by beginners.
But that brings me to point 2. If you have any problems, you need to address those first, then go on to work on general strength exercises. I have clients with rotator cuff problems, back problems, etc. If you can’t do plank without pain, you can’t do a push up. A large part of what I do as a trainer is figure out exercises people can do without pain and without aggravating preexisting conditions, as well as improving those conditions.
My last point is exercises serve different purposes. I would never just do push ups for my arms. I do bicep curls, flys, over head presses, ball walk outs, etc., etc. Why? Your arms are attached to your shoulder. Together, they are capable of a huge range of motions. Push ups only cover a small amount of that motion. And what about pulling motions? There are some who suggest we should do twice as much pulling as pushing, since we don’t do that much pulling in our modern lives.
So try those “one best”, if you are strong and healthy, but don’t limit yourself to one exercise for any body part. If you aren’t able to do whatever it is, do what you can do. Join a gym, go to classes, take a walk. It’s all good.