The Surprising Way Pushups Affect Your Core

Love them or hate them, pushups are a great exercise to add to your weekly workout routine. Although they may seem intimidating, pushups are an effective way to build muscle mass and upper body strength (via SELF). While pushups share some similarities with planks, pushups are a compound movement, which means that they target multiple muscle groups at the same time. In the arms and upper body, these muscles include the triceps, biceps, shoulders, and pectoral muscles.

To do a traditional pushup, start in a high plank position and place your hands shoulder-width apart, bending your elbows as you lower yourself to the ground. While your arms should technically be at a 45 degree angle to the rest of your body, it's okay if they're a little closer or farther away. Once your chest touches the floor, you can start raising yourself back up, pushing away from the floor. You should end back in a high plank position with your arms fully extended.

Pushups can strengthen your core

While pushups are primarily viewed as an upper body workout, they're also surprisingly beneficial for your core. In fact, pushups can help strengthen and stabilize your abdominal muscles (via Livestrong). That's because they work to help keep your hips from sinking or caving during every set. "They are also very good for your core if you do them with your butt down and waist locked because they act like a better version of a plank," Robert S. Herbst, a personal trainer and former world champion powerlifter, told Insider. "They are better than a standard plank because your abs are working in different ways to stabilize your body through shifting angles of effort."

As you perform each pushup, your rectus abdominis muscle continually contracts. This helps to stabilize your core so you can keep your body off the floor and keep your legs and torso aligned. That's why you should tighten your abs as you perform each set.