When it comes to push-ups, there are countless variations that can be done. From strengthening your upper body and core to your glutes and legs, push-ups seem to be the go-to body weight exercise for men and women alike. But no matter which variation you're doing, form is the most important thing to focus on. Since push-ups require strength in every area of your body, it's harder to compensate by relying on another body part to take overâyou have to be solid throughout. To put it plainly, it would be better to complete 10 spectacular push-ups than to aim for 15 and do the last 5 with poor form.
Once youâve mastered the standard push-up, try switching it up with a few new variations. There are countless options, but here are 5 ideas to amp up this move (and one to modify it). Pick one to try and do 10-15 reps or as many as you can while maintaining good form.
Get yourself in a high plank position with your hands underneath your shoulders, slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Keep the heels lifted and the toes grounded into the floor. Think of squeezing the abs, pulling your navel in toward your spine and pushing your upper body away from your wrists so you donât sink into your back. Inhale and begin to lower the body by bending the elbows until the collarbone almost touches the floor. Aside from your elbows, your body should remain straight the entire time. Keeping your core engaged, exhale as you press your arms back up to the starting position.
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Modified Push-Up With Bent Knee
These push-ups are great for beginners to practice proper form before graduating to other variations. They also help target your core a bit more, because you donât have the strength of your legs to hold you up. Kneel down (with a towel or mat under your knees if desired), place your hands directly under your shoulders, knees extended out to a modified plank position. Lower to the ground and press back up with the same technique as a standard push-up.
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This one targets the core and the obliques specifically. Do a standard push-up but as you bend the elbows, bring your right knee into your right elbow, actively squeezing your stomach muscles. Then, press your arms straight as you return your leg back to plank position. Switch legs with each rep.
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This version intensifies the effort on the upper body and core through gravity alone. Just like it sounds, you'll perform a normal push-up, but elevate your feet on a stable platform like a box, bench, or chair. The higher the platform, the more you'll work your shoulders, chest, core, and the muscles that connect your neck, middle back, and shoulders.
This exercise isn't for the push-up rookie: it's all about plyometrics, meaning the muscles exert maximum force in short intervals of time. Perform a standard push-up. When the arms start to extend straight, exhale and lift the hands off the ground, clap, then return to the floor. The fast jolting force of the clap push-up will help you develop explosive power while working the chest and getting the heart rate elevated, too.
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This variation focuses mostly on the muscles of the chest. Starting in a standard push-up position, walk your hands out much wider than shoulder distance apart. This position will force your chest to pick up the brunt of the work from your triceps and shoulders.
Just like its name suggests, this variation focuses primarily on the triceps. Get into a standard push-up position. Instead of walking your hands wider apart, bring your hands closer together so that they're slightly less than shoulder-width apart. When you lower down to the ground, think of squeezing your elbows against your ribs as tight as you can and then press your arms straight, returning to the starting position.
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For more body weight exercises, check out A 7-Minute Workout To Build Definition And Strength.
Jennifer Cohen is a leading fitness authority, TV personality, entrepreneur, and best-selling author of the new book, Strong is the New Skinny. With her signature, straight-talking approach to wellness, Jennifer was the featured trainer on The CWâs Shedding for the Wedding, mentoring the contestants to lose hundreds of pounds before their big day, and she appears regularly on NBCâs Today Show, Extra, The Doctors, and Good Morning America. Connect with Jennifer onÂ Facebook, Twitter, G+ and on Pinterest.