Wellness Wednesdays: Push-Ups – Push-ups are great for the entire upper body. From your shoulders to your core, you use all of those muscles to complete a simple up-down motion. Every time I work my upper body, I make sure to at least incorporate push-ups in my warm-up, but it is possible to compile a workout made up entirely of push-up variations. There are so many, but for today’s Wellness Wednesday, I’m going to share twelve of my favorite push-up variations.
Before you go ahead and push away, you need to make sure you have the correct form:
- Start in a plank
- Hands a little wider than shoulder-width apart
- Keep your spine straight (no arched back!)
- Draw in your navel and engage your core
- Contract the glutes
- Keep your pelvis in a neutral position
When lowering down, leave your elbows at a 45-degree angle from your body with your middle fingers pointing out straight If you feel your stomach sink towards the ground, that means your back is arching. Modify your push-up by either starting with a half-plank on your knees, with your hands elevated on something like a chair with your feet on the ground, or act like a wall is the ground and mimic the push-up motion from there. If you’re new to exercise or your form suffers, start from a wall, then move to elevated hands, then on your knees to progress to a full push-up.
12 Push Up Variations
Now that you know these tips and tricks, here are my 12 favorite push-ups along with embarrassing pictures of me demonstrating in my tiny living room!
It’s pretty much just a regular push-up, but with your arms wider than shoulder-width apart. This will work the outer chest muscles more.
ARMS TO SIDE
Bring your hands to under your shoulders and draw your elbows in to your sides. When you push back up, you’ll feel it more in your triceps which will help bring you back to starting position.
While you’re in the regular push-up stands, bring your index fingers and thumbs together to form a diamond shape with your hands. Have this diamond shape in front of your face while you’re pushing down. It’s another arm-blasting push-up variation!
Perform this like a regular push-up, but when you get to the top of the push-up, either raise one arm up in front of you at a time, one leg behind you a time, or all four limbs one at a time. When you raise any of your limbs, make sure your hips and shoulders remain pointing down, avoid moving them when you move your arms or legs. Engage that core to help! Whenever I do this move, I imagine the acromion (the pointy tip of your shoulders) pointing straight and the iliac crest (the pointy tip of your pelvis that pokes out like a wing) pointing downward.
Perform a regular push-up. At the top of the push-up, bring one arm up so your body forms a T-shape perpendicular to the ground. Don’t just throw your arm in the air like you just don’t care. Care! Engage your chest and core to help the arm lift. I prefer doing this as opposed to side planks to work my obliques as it’s more active and engages more muscles.
Sadly, no web-shooting happens with this. But it does kind of mimic Spiderman scaling a building! When pushing down, use your oblique muscle of one side of the body to draw that side’s leg outward so that the knee forms a 90-degree angle pointing away from the body.
This move is similar to the Spiderman push-up, but instead of bringing your knee away from your body, bring it as close to the opposite elbow as possible when pushing down. So left knee to right elbow and vice-versa. Make sure you’re engaging your core! I don’t mean to sound like a broken record, but when you engage your core, you strengthen your core!
This is an added challenge to the Grasshopper push-up, where instead of bringing your leg to the opposite elbow, you kick it out to the opposite side. In addition to engaging your core, engage your glutes to control the kick because, again, you don’t want to haphazardly kick your legs out or you’ll lose your balance.
Start in regular push-up position. Instead of going straight down, move your head diagonally towards one hand. When you come back up, bring your head back to center. Repeat on the other side. For an added challenge, when your head is down to one hand, sweep your chest parallel to the ground to the opposite hand then come back up. It’s a satisfying burn! Make sure you alternate which hand your head touches first every rep.
This is a great shoulder workout. Bend your upper body down like you’re in a downward dog position, but bring your arms close to your legs as comfortably as you can. Engage your shoulders and retract your shoulder blade to go downward. Draw out the shoulder blades to bring yourself up.
Get your flow on! Start in a downward dog. Then, lower your body toward your hands and swoop up to an upward dog (chataranga for all you yogis). Straighten your arms and use your hips to propel you back to downward dog. It does take a while to get used to, but it works and stretches out the whole body.
This is a burpee-esque move without jumping up. After pushing up kick both legs up to your arms in an explosive fashion. This will get your heart rate up!
Give these a try!
If you’re not used to doing these moves, practice. Practice makes perfect. If you have any questions, please reach out!
Check back next week for another installment of Wellness Wednesdays With Patrick!
Disclaimer: Always consult a physician before starting an exercise routine. Nash In Tune is not responsible for any injuries. Stay smart and stay safe!
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