Make your push-ups more effective with suspension straps
If you train at home and have a little money to spare, along with a safe spot on your ceiling to attach it, you might consider buying a suspension trainer. According to the study done by American sports scientist Ronald Snarr, who works at Arizona State University, doing push-ups with these flexible straps gives your muscles a stronger growth stimulus than doing them the regular way.
There are various ways to boost the growth stimulus when you do exercises: using a heavier weight, doing more reps or moving more slowly are three of them. It's also possible to perform exercises under unstable conditions. This principle works particularly well for training your core muscles. Crunches that you do on a Swiss ball for example are more effective than ones you do on the floor.
You can do dozens of classic exercises under unstable conditions; the push up is just one of these. The photos below give an impression of how this looks.
The second (superfluous) pair of photos shows the usual way of doing push ups.
Snarr was curious to know whether doing the push-ups with suspension straps gave the muscles a better stimulus, so he got twenty teenagers to do push-ups in the usual way and using the TRX Suspension Trainer. [trxtraining.com]
Snarr attached electrodes to his subjects' muscles so he could measure how hard the muscles had to work. He registered 31, 16 and 27 percent more electrical activity in the triceps, chest and shoulder muscles respectively when push-ups were done with the suspension straps than when done in the regular way. The differences were all statistically significant.
"The traditional pushup, when performed on a stable surface can provide a sufficient stimulus to increase upper body muscular strength and endurance", writes Snarr. "However, when an increased challenge is warranted, a suspension training device may be incorporated to increase muscular activation and possibly enhance neuromuscular adaptations with the pushup."
J Hum Kinet. 2013 Dec 31;39:75-83.
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