Dr. Phil Shares: How to Get Better at Push-Ups

How to Get Better at Push-Ups

In theory, push-ups seem simple enough – lower your body to the ground, then push it back up. Easy!

But we all know that’s far from the truth. Especially if you’re not naturally blessed with the strength to do strict-form push-ups, it can seem nearly impossible to do this move with perfect form.

Thankfully, there are a few exercises you can do to get better at push-ups.

What Muscles Do Push-ups Work?

It’s well worth your while to learn to master this move, even if it seems a little out of reach at first. That’s because the benefits of push-ups are numerous.

Push-ups work many key muscles of the upper body, including the arms, pectorals (chest), deltoids (shoulders), the triceps, and also the core.

Because of this, the push-up is an evergreen fitness movement that’s done everywhere from the gym to the army barracks, and it’s not going away any time soon.

If you’re struggling to even do a single push-up, all hope is not lost. With some time, effort, and a little creativity, you can push your way to success.

Follow the guide below to kick your push-up strength up to the next level, whether you’re a beginner or you just want to improve and build more strength.

How to Do a Push-Up

Before you can get better at push-ups, you first have to know how to do a proper strict form push-up (that’s just a normal push-up).

Follow these cues to learn how to do a push-up with perfect form:

• Your feet should be together and your hands should be slightly wider than shoulder width.

• Throughout the movement, your head and hips should be in alignment with your spine, and your body should form a straight line from the crown of your head to your heels. Clench your glutes and brace your core to lock your body into position.

• When you lower yourself down, keep your elbows tucked close to your body. They should form a 45-degree angle to your torso when viewed from above.

• In the lowest position of the move, your chest should be about a few inches from the floor.

• As you come up, your shoulders and torso shouldn’t twist, and the weight of your upper body should be evenly distributed between your two hands.

Once you’ve perfected the proper push-up form, the next step is to figure out what your push-up level is.

Drop down and knock out as many reps as you can using the proper form, then use your “max reps” score to determine your level.

Can’t do any? No problem – start at level one which is the first section below.

Managed to do a few? That’s great! You’ll find the most use out of the exercises described in levels two and three.

Feel like you could do an endless number of push-ups? Check out level four for some push-up variations that are sure to challenge you.

You don’t need to do push-ups every day to get results–start by performing these of these variations a few times a week on nonconsecutive days to help you get better at push-ups. Good luck!

How to Get Better at Push-Ups

If you can’t do any push-ups, try incline push-ups and push-up static holds

If you can’t do a single strict-form pushup, try the move with your hands elevated at least 12 inches on a sturdy bench, box, or table.

These are known as incline push-ups, and they’re a great type of push up for beginners. The higher the surface, the easier the move.

You can even do them with your hands braced against a wall. Perform three sets, resting a minute between sets. When you can do three sets of 10 reps at a given height, lower your hands and repeat the process.

How to Get Better at Push-Ups - Hands Elevated

Next, practice the straight-arm plank: After your workout, hold the top position of the pushup with perfect form as long as you can.

Work up to holding it for 30 seconds to one minute.

How to Get Better at Push-Ups - Plank

Once you can do three or more push-ups with your hands on the floor level and you can hold a straight-arm plank for at least 30 seconds, it’s time to move on to the next level.

If you can do three to six push-ups, try low-rep sets and negative reps

You’re getting stronger! Here’s what you should do to keep improving. On workout days, drop and bang out a few push-ups, stopping a couple of reps shy of your max (which might mean just doing one push-up each “set”).

Do this up to a dozen times, either in straight-set fashion (resting 30-60 seconds between sets), throughout your workout or during the day at random intervals.

On those same days, practice negative reps: Take 10 to 20 seconds to lower yourself from the top position of the movement to the floor, using perfect form.

Drop all the way down to the floor, come back up to the plank position, and repeat, for a total of three slow reps.

How to Get Better at Push-Ups - Negative Reps

If you can do seven to 10 push-ups, try low-to-mid reps

Your push-up skills are getting impressive! What’s likely holding you back from higher numbers now is the “sticking point” at the bottom of the movement.

To fix it, do three sets of regular pushups, stopping a rep or two shy of failure.

Then do a set of low-to-mid reps, where you go repeatedly from the lowest position (chest a few inches from the floor) to the midpoint (chest halfway between the floor and the top of the position), again stopping a few reps shy of failure.

How to Get Better at Push-Ups - Low to Mid Reps

If you can do 15 or more push-ups, try decline push-ups, banded push-ups, spiderman push-ups, and plyo push-ups

You’re a pro! But that doesn’t mean you should abandon this great move. Now it means that you should try to master different types of push-ups instead of just strict form.

Continue to improve and challenge yourself with these four push-up variations.

Feet-elevated push-up: Perform a push-up with your feet raised on a box, bench, or short table). The higher the surface, the more difficult the move. These are called decline push-ups.

How to Get Better at Push-Ups - Feet Elevated

Banded push-up: perform a push-up holding the ends of an exercise band, with the elastic looped across your back for added resistance.

How to Get Better at Push-Ups - Banded

Spiderman push-up: starting in a plank position, swing your right leg out sideways to bring your right knee to your right elbow as you bend your arms down so your chest is within a few inches of the floor.

Push back up as you return to the starting plank position and repeat with your left leg. Continue alternating.

How to Get Better at Push-Ups - Spiderman

Plyo push-up: keeping your elbows tucked, lower your torso until your chest is within a few inches of the floor.

Then, push up with enough force for your hands to leave the ground while keeping your body straight. Land softly, and transition immediately into your next rep.

How to Get Better at Push-Ups - Plyo

 

 

How to Get Better at Push-Ups

Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @Forward Health

Dr. Laura: 11 Ways to Use Plants as Medicine

11 Ways to Use Plants as Medicine

Plants are essential to us. They provide food, healing and medicine. Learn 11 different ways plants can be used as medicine.

1. Plants as Food – Food as Medicine

PHYTOCHEMICALS

There are more than 5,000 phytochemicals identified plus many we suspect still remain unknown. Turns out, Mother Nature has packed a punch of power in the plant kingdom.

Many plants contain one or more of these 5,000 nutritional perks that helps us:

  • Defend against pathogens, parasites, and predators.
  • Protect against chronic disease, including cardiovascular disease, neuro-degeneration, and cancer.
  • Purify and renew the blood
  • Nourish
  • Cleanse body of toxins
  • Stimulate effects
  • Relaxing effects
  • Anti-inflammatory

2. Extractable in water as TEAS and DECOCTIONS

  • Teas use the leaf or flower dried, then steeped in hot water
  • Decoctions use roots, tree barks, different seeds and nuts and are let sit over night in cool water and then brought to a boil, left to simmer for 20min.
  • Gentle
  • Will last 1-2 years if stored in a cool dry place, away for sun. Preferably in glass or stainless steel container.
  • Sip and enjoy as a drink
  • Teas in the right dose and duration, can act medicinally
  • Pour into bath to stimulate circulation, relieve cramps, break a fever, produce a sweat, detoxify the body, ease aches and pains. (Try it with ¼-1/2 cup grated ginger root in a hot bath to ease aches and pains- you can place the ginger tied up in a cheese cloth, or steep it first then add its water to the bath).
  • Herbals teas you may be made for a SITZ bath – you likely won’t be drinking these teas, but soaking your bottom end in it… different herbs can help heal perineum after birth, hemorrhoids and fissures.

3. Ground up/ mashed up applied externally as a POULTICE

  • Helps draw out pus, slivers, calms inflamed skin, eyes. Directly on skin or in a cotton cloth or gauze.
  • Potato works great

4. Cotton cloth soaked in hot herbal tea the applied to skin as a COMPRESS

  • Cover with another towel and hot water bottle. Leave in place for 20-30 minutes. Helps relieve cold, painful, inflamed, congested body parts.
  • Calendula is often helpful

 

5. Extractable in alcohol or water, sometimes glycerin  as TINCTURES

  • Alcohol most popular: it extracts alkaloids, resins, volatile oils, vitamins, minerals, tannins and more. Alcohol based tinctures will last at least 10 years.
  • Liquids- take in drop doses
  • Add to hot water to drive off alcohol if person is alcohol sensitive
  • Dried to make powder which is put into capsules or tablets
  • Professionally blended to suit individual needs. Customized and adjustable.
  • For a time, not forever.
  • Very effective and combined for many different purposes

 

6. GEMMOTHERAPY

  • Encourages the proper function of the organ and helps drive toxins out.
  • These are plant extracts made from the spring buds and embryonic tissue of trees and shrubs.

 

7. Steeped in VINEGAR

  • Organic apple cider vinegar with tarragon, basil, rosemary, thyme, and can use touch of spring tonic greens like dandelion, chickweed or nettle. Place in glass jar, secure lid and sit in sunlight for 4-6 weeks. Then strain the vinegar from the herbs using cheesecloth and store in cool dark location.
  • Goodness of the apple cider vinegar plus the herbs

 

8. Extracted through steam distillation  as ESSENTIAL OILS

  • Mostly for external use, very concentrated and potent. Often needs to be dilute in a carrier oil before applied direct to skin or in bath.
  • May be diffused – with in 3 seconds every cell in your body will be affected by the properties of the EO.
  • Facial steams- add 3 drops to a bowl of boiling water and use a towel to tent yourself over it. Inhale and steam for 8 minutes.

 

9. Herb infused oil blended with bees wax as SALVES

–     Used to help skin heal, soothe burns, soften scar tissue.

10. Essence as BACH FLOWER REMEDIES

  • Vibrational Medicine made by sun infused flowers in spring water for 4-8 hours. Mixed with oak aged brandy to produce the mother tincture.
  • Alcohol provides the most effective preservative for the vibration- maybe for decades. Without it the essence would only last a few days. Vinegar or glycerin will preserve for about 5 years.
  • After mixing up the ‘Mother’ remedy, it is succussed (pounded on the bottom of the bottle) about 100 times.
  • A stock remedy is made by a 50/50 blend of Brandy and spring water and 5 drops of the Mother, then 100 succussion.
  • A patient remedy is then made 10-50mL of 30% organic vegetable glycerin and 5 drops of the stock remedy, succus 100 times.
  • 3-5 drops three or more times daily will provide a catalyst to re-awaken natural life force within us.

 

11. Potentized as HOMEOPATHICS

  • made from plants and also animals, minerals and imponderables.
  • Any substance given to a healthy person in a suitable dose will cause that person to become ill in a specific and unique pattern
  • The same substance in its energetic dose will remove the symptoms. – “Like treats like”
  • Titrated down below the point of Avagrado’s number – no actual molecular substance left, only the vibrational & energetic properties.
  • Succussion by hand or machine. Similar process to the BACH flower remedies, using spring water or pure alcohol (vodka), then succussing many many times and subsequent dilutions.
  • Works on a quantum physics philosophy
  • When accurately prescribed can be very helpful.
  • Don’t interact with other medications, however other medications may be an obstacle to the remedy working as well as it could.

Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND

Resources:

Robinson, Karl. 1980. Homeopathy: Questions and Answers. Robinson. London.

Soule, Deb. 2011. The Women’s Handbook of Healing Herbs. A Guide to Natural Remedies. Skyhorse Publishing. New York.

Willard, Terri. 2007. Flower Essence. Emotional Alchemy and Spiritual Evolution. Wild Rose College of Natural Healing Alberta.

Dr. Laura: Organ System Screening

Organ System Screening

Detection of internal events by electrical changes in the skin is a well accepted tool in medicine.   Most are aware and have used one or more of the following medical measurement devices:

Electrocardiogram (EKG) – electrical conduction of the heart

Electroencephalogram (EEG) – electrical conduction in the brain

Oximeters- pulse-rate monitors- electrical conduction at the finger tips/ nail bed

Digitized blood pressure devices- electrical conduction at the arteries

 

Electrodermal Screening

There are also numerous points on the skin that correspond to other organs.  Acupuncture uses this theory regularly as small openings in the fascia expose a wealth of nerve fibres that can be stimulated to correct imbalances in the corresponding organ. This system of medicine has been used to bring balance in health for thousands of years.

Dr. Reinhold Voll helped advanced this theory in the 1950’s when he applied a small electric current to acupuncture points and received a similar response to acupuncture. Dr. Voll mapped numerous sites on the skin to their corresponding organs  and called the process electro dermal detection, or electrodermal screening (EDS); electromagnetic waves transferred from the site of origin of the frequency, to the detection site on the skin.

Electrodermal detection is simply a biophysical method of measuring skin resistance and electromagnetic conductance. 

In his practice and research, Dr. Voll noted that when the current passed through the body without interference, the indicator stayed balanced. While most people balance at fifty units, some may balance higher or lower, based on individuality. Generally when measuring the skin conductance at a site related to a particular organ, an indicator rising above seventy suggests inflammation, and an indicator below 40 suggests organ degeneration. A measurement that comes through but cannot be held and continues to drop indicates disruption in the cellular health of the corresponding organ. A indicator drop suggests a withdrawal of electrons. There are over 500 points where organ health can be measured on the skin. Even using the top 40 main detection sites can give a strong over all organ system screening.

Identify causes, restore balance

Introducing different electrical signals to a point can also reveal a change in conductance, which can be helpful to detect both the substance responsible for the indicator drop, and the substance that may help restore balance.

Identifying the disruptor and the balancing signals has become easier to attain through digitized codes of thousands of signals. Coded signals include pharmaceuticals, herbals, homeopathics, sarcodes and nosodes, metals, toxins, nutrients, foods, metabolic substances and many others.

Food Sensitivity Testing

One form of food sensitivity testing is to use electrodermal screening. A wave form of the food is passed through the acupuncture meridian to see if there is resistance in the body. A number of foods can be introduced and corresponding measurements and indicator drops noted. A food that measures in excess of seventy, or declines past forty should likely be avoided for one to three months, then reintroduced one at a time. Foods that fall between sixty-six and seventy should likely be reduced for a period of time to help bring balance back into the body. Foods measuring between forty-eight and sixty-five can, in general, be eaten regularly without causing strain on the body.

Electrodermal screening is a clinically useful tool in a guided elimination diet.

Knowing your food sensitivities can help reduce:

  • headaches
  • joint pain
  • heartburn
  • bloating
  • gas
  • pain
  • nausea
  • fatigue
  • constipation
  • diarrhea
  • anxiety
  • brain fog
  • skin rashes like eczema, psoriasis, hives

References:

Speckhart, V. 2004.  An Electrodermal Analysis of Biological Conductance. Biological Conductance Inc. Virginia Beach, VA

Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND 

Dr. Laura: 5 Major Factors in Menopausal Weight Gain

Menopausal weight gain is troublesome and annoying.

Menopausal weight gain can increase risks for cardiac events and insulin dysregulation.

5 Major factors in menopausal weight gain:

  • Genetics
  • Sex hormone changes
  • Sleep
  • Depression
  • Stress
  • Diet

Figure out what’s going on in your body!  Learn how hormone levels, including the thyroid estrogen and progesterone, sleep hygiene, physical activity, diet and stress play a role in menopausal weight gain.

Sex hormone changes trigger menopausal weight gain

  • When the years leading to menopause set in, ovulation slows down before it stops. Ovulation is required before progesterone can be released. If you don’t ovulate, it creates irregular balances of estrogen and progesterone in the body.
  • Chemicals like BPA (plastics), cadmium, phthalates (soaps, detergents), and pesticides contribute to estrogen dominance.
  • Low progesterone against pre-declining estrogen makes for relative estrogen excess compared to progesterone. This means estrogen dominance for a time.
  • Estrogen dominance leads to poor thyroid hormone availability, reducing metabolism
  • If thyroid function is sluggish, this leads to poor estrogen clearance, more estrogen builds up in the body
  • Poor thyroid function can lead to weight gain and increase in LDL cholesterol. Elevated LDL cholesterol is linked to increase risk in cardiovascular disease.
  • As menopause progresses, estrogen declines. Estrogen decline leads to deposition of fat around the mid section.

Contributing factors to thyroid dysfunction:

  • Sagging adrenals (chronic stress)
  • Estrogen dominance
  • Low iron, selenium, iodine or zinc
  • Poor liver function
  • Poor intestinal flora.

Factors in sleep disturbance that contribute to menopausal weight gain

Poor sleep leads to disruption in balance of hormones and time for healing in the body. Lack of sleep itself can contribute to weight gain. The years of menopause are riddled with hurdles to a good night sleep:

  • decline in estrogen can disrupt sleep due to hot flushes
  • Hormone rhythm imbalance from changes in LH, FSH, estrogen and progesterone are thought to contribute to disrupted sleep patterns.
  • From a Chinese Medicine point of view, the Liver Yang rises in menopause, which explains why the sleep is typically disrupted between the hours of 1-3 am. This is why, naturopathically, we look to calm the liver, cool the body and build Yin. Acupuncture and specially blended plant medicines can be very helpful.
  • sleep apnea (in you or your partner) more prevalent in those who are overweight
  • too much technology before bed, or worse yet, in the bedroom inhibits natural melatonin let down. Relative excess of cortisol as it is unopposed by melatonin disrupts sleep and contributes to midsection weight gain

Factors in depression that contribute to menopausal weight gain

Low mood and lethargy generally lend to poor motivation for exercise and healthy habits, which leads often to weight gain.

Here are some common factors in depression and menopause:

  • declining estrogen
  • sluggish thyroid
  • poor nutrient intake
  • imbalance in the intestinal bacteria
  • inflammation in the brain (usually as a result of imbalance in the intestinal bacteria)

How  Stress Relates to Menopausal Weight Gain

In menopause, the ovaries retire and  hand over their hormone duties to the adrenal gland. This is why it is important to support the adrenals at this time. How healthy the adrenals are will dictate how well our bodies will manage the stress and the change in hormone levels. Areas we may not think about in stress that could contribute to adrenal fatigue:

  • sleep disruption
  • inflammation from infections, intestinal dysbiosis, autoimmune conditions
  • too much or too little exercise
  • poor eating habits
  • conditioned stress response (post traumic stress disorder)
  • relationships with others
  • alcohol intake
  • medications and drugs
  • overwork
  • not enough fun & play time

How diet affects menopausal weight gain

  • Generally with age, metabolism slows down and less caloric intake is required. If activity slows or stays the same and intake is not adjusted, subsequent weight gain is likely.
  • Our intestinal tract flora changes as we age, and this changes how estrogen is metabolized.

It is evident that menopausal weight can happen for a lot of reasons. Some of it is a bit of a chickened an egg, like the estrogen dominance and poor thyroid function. It doesn’t matter what comes first, but if not corrected, they build on one another.  A naturopathic doctor’s role is to look at the individual as a whole, remove obstacles, rebuild the body and stimulate natural mechanisms of healing. Women who maintain a healthy habits, hormones and weight will help stave off risks for osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Solutions to menopausal weight gain include healthy diet, exercise, sleep hygiene, hormone balancing with acupuncture and plant medicines, nutritional and hormonal supplementation.

Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND

References:

Jung SY, Vitolins MZ, Fenton J, Frazier-Wood AC, Hursting SD, Chang S. Risk Profiles for Weight Gain among Postmenopausal Women: A Classification and Regression Tree Analysis Approach. Hsu Y-H, ed. PLoS ONE. 2015;10(3):e0121430. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0121430.

Franklin RM, Ploutz-Snyder L, Kanaley JA. Longitudinal changes in abdominal fat distribution with menopause. Metabolism. 2009 Mar; 58(3):311-5.

Gietka-Czernel M. The thyroid gland in postmenopausal women: physiology and diseases. Przegla̜d Menopauzalny = Menopause Review. 2017;16(2):33-37. doi:10.5114/pm.2017.68588.

Van Pelt RE, Gavin KM, Kohrt WM. REGULATION OF BODY COMPOSITION AND BIOENERGETICS BY ESTROGENS. Endocrinology and metabolism clinics of North America. 2015;44(3):663-676. doi:10.1016/j.ecl.2015.05.011.

Williams LT, Hollis JL, Collins CE, Morgan PJ. The 40-Something randomized controlled trial to prevent weight gain in mid-age women. BMC Public Health. 2013;13:1007. doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-1007.

Zheng Y, Manson JE, Yuan C, et al. Associations of Weight Gain From Early to Middle Adulthood With Major Health Outcomes Later in Life. JAMA. 2017;318(3):255-272. doi:10.1001/jama.2017.7092.

Karvonen-Gutierrez C, Kim C. Association of Mid-Life Changes in Body Size, Body Composition and Obesity Status with the Menopausal Transition. Parthasarathy S, ed. Healthcare. 2016;4(3):42. doi:10.3390/healthcare4030042.