Article Shawna Wright | Photography Paul Versluis
Improving health and fitness is a journey not a destination. We all have to create our own route, and mine has never been a straight path. I was a beginner as well as an athlete and everything in between. My imperfections and struggles have become my strength and my passion is helping people get started. I hope my tidbits of “expert advice” reach out in to the non-expert community and inspire you all to try something new. I am fortunate enough to find my own health, and I am lucky to work daily amongst the best trainers, instructors and dieticians in Kansas city. My kids, husband family and friends are my life. I make the time to sweat often, work hard and eat well for them. They deserve my best.
If you do nothing else, do this move:
The Push-up. There is no movement better for building overall strength. Don’t be intimidated; you don’t need to be a Marine. Start with a modified version with your hands on your counter top. Do 10 of each variation, every day. Next week, increase it to 15. Week 3, try it on your knees. It takes less than 10 minutes a day. Recognize your progress as you get stronger and be proud.
The standard push-up:
Targets arms, shoulders, core & chest.
1. Place hands on mat, directly below shoulders.
2. Zip your abs up & pull belly button into your spine. Your abs protect your back.
Keeping them up & tight is the MOST important thing.
3. Tilt hips forward creating a diagonal line. Either stay on knees or come up on your toes.
4. Drop your chest towards the ground, in control, then simply push it back up.
The wide stance push-up:
Targets primarily chest and also abs, back & shoulders
1. Use the same form as the standard push-up, but place your hands wider than your
shoulders. Your elbows will be slightly flared.
2. Drop your chest to the ground, and use the strength in your chest to push back up.
3. This is a slightly easier than the standard.
The tricep push-up:
Targets primarily triceps (back of your upper arms) also shoulders, back & abs
1. Use the same form as the standard push-ups, but this time you squeeze your
elbows into your side. Place your hands just a few inches apart, directly under your
2. Drop your chest as low as possible, keeping your elbows glued into your rib cage.
3. This push-up takes some time to develop the strength. If you cannot take your chest
all the way down, even dropping a few inches will work the muscles and build
Tips for a proper push-up:
Abs must be tight. Pull your belly button up into your spine.
Open your hands, press your weight into your thumb & forefinger.
Relax your neck. Your gaze should be at the top of your mat.
Keep your spine, neck and hips all in alignment.
Breath: exhale as you come up, inhale on the way down.
Do not hinge or bend from your hips.
Keep challenging yourself & drop your chest a little lower each day.
Beginners: start with hands on a counter top or back of a couch and follow the steps.
This will allow you to build your strength, form and create muscle memory from an
elevated starting point.
*I decided to be my own model for the exercises in the spread because I can do a
pushup, and that was not always the case. Small daily improvements can create big
results over time.
*Active wear provided by NEVA, a local company with the mission to “stand for
more”…now made in the USA & hand embroidered by women at the Don Bosco