The push-up is one of the most effective strength training exercises, but it gets a bit monotonous at times.
You go up, you go down and you repeat the sequence. Even though it produces results, it's not all that flashy.
Instead of falling victim to the monotony, try adding a few variations to your routine. You'll experience the same great benefits, along with a few more.
Note: Before you attempt the intermediate, advanced and extreme variations, be sure to master the traditional push-up.
Traditional push-ups aren't an option yet for some. If you're in this group, it's recommended to build strength with incline push-ups.
Incline push-ups can be done with a wall, box, bench or bar. Begin in a traditional push-up position. Your hands should be slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Your body should be at about a 45-degree angle, though this angle will vary depending on what you're using.
Lower your body down, bringing your chest as close to the bench (or whatever you're using) as possible. Push back up to return to the starting position.
Keep your abs engaged and your body straight throughout the movement. As you become stronger, slowly lower the angle of your body in relation to the floor until you're able to perform a traditional push-up.
Benefits: Helps build necessary strength for traditional push-ups.
Begin in the traditional push-up position, but instead of placing your hands on the ground, place them on a firm medicine ball.
As you perform the push-up, focus on lowering slowly and exploding up once your chest touches the ball. Continue for desired reps.
Benefits: Targets triceps, similar to a close-grip bench press.
Resistance Band Push-upIntermediate
To set up, loop a resistance band around one thumb. Wrap the band behind your back and underneath your armpits, and then around the other thumb.
Perform a traditional push-up, but begin from the bottom position.
As you extend your arms and push into the top position, the band will increase the resistance. This accommodating resistance is a great way to build strength.
Benefits: Increases difficulty of traditional push-up without requiring additional balance variables.
Begin in a traditional push-up position. As you lower your body, bend one leg and bring your knee up as close as possible to your wrist on the same side. Try to keep the foot of the bending leg off the ground throughout the movement.
As you return to the starting position, bring your leg back so your body is straight. Alternate sides in this knee-drive pattern for the desired number of reps.
Benefits: Increases abdominal and oblique engagement.
Note: This exercise can be done with a TRX strap, stability ball or sliders.
Start in a push-up position with your feet on a pair of sliders or one of the other equipment options.
Begin performing a push-up. On the way up, tuck both knees in towards your chest. As you go back down for the next repetition, straighten your legs back out.
If you're struggling to find a synchronized rhythm, try pausing at the top of the movement to bring your knees in and out before you begin the next rep.
Benefits: Increases core engagement with added balance variables.
Begin by performing a traditional push-up. On the way back up, however, rotate your torso, sweep one leg underneath your body, and extend it out on the opposite side.
Keep your top elbow tight to your ribs at the top of the movement. Next, pull your leg back through and return to the top of the push-up position. Alternate sides and perform desired reps.
Benefits: Increases core and shoulder engagement.
Begin on your knees facing a wall. Place your hands apart 6 to 10 inches from the wall, slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
Next, kick your feet up so your heels rest against the wall. You should now be looking away from the wall, and your body should be in a relatively straight line from your wrists to your feet.
Bending at the elbows, slowly lower your body down until your head barely touches the floor. Reverse the movement and press your body back up until your reach full elbow extension.
Benefits: Targets shoulders, core and other stabilizing muscles.
Plyometric Push-Up (Flying Squirrel)Extreme
This move requires both a rotational component and a plyometric component, as well as a lot of relative body strength and control.
Begin performing a standard push-up. On the way up, however, push with enough force so you explode off the ground. Additionally, attempt to rotate your body clockwise while you're in the air so you land in a different position from where you started.
Continue the reps until you've rotated in a complete circle. Count how many reps it takes. The ultimate goal is 2 reps, meaning 180-degree turns each push-up.
Note: Still confused? Watch the video example below.
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