Since the time exercise has been done in any structured way, push-ups have been a staple. Still, I can’t tell you how many clients have shuddered with fear in their eyes at the prospect of doing them when I first introduce the exercise. But the fat is that virtually anyone can do a push-up, provided they’re using the right variation. The pictures below illustrate three, from low to very high intensity.
But why do them anyway? Because there are no better exercises for strengthening the front of the upper body in a balanced, safe and comprehensive way. Here are various positions with increasing load (percentage of body weight pressed):
This one uses a very small percentage of your weight as resistance, since most of the load is on the legs. The depth of your drop is also limited, making it the ideal version for very heavy people, those with shoulder injuries who have been cleared for this exercise by their orthopedist/physical therapist and for those who are very intimidated about push-ups and need an easy starting point. You can also work your way to the next version below by moving to the kitchen or bathroom counter as you get stronger.
Pivoting at the knees is the next level up. If dropping all the way to the floor is too difficult but the version above is too easy, experiment with cutting the drop to a point where the elbows are at a right angle like the picture to the left. If you can drop all the way to the floor, go for it!
This one is tougher still. Make sure to keep your body straight as in the picture, lining up your shoulder, hip, knee and ankle throughout to keep the low back protected. Same drop depth option is available on this variation as well.
This is the toughest one. That’s because the angle transfers a large percentage of your body weight to your chest and the front of your shoulders. You may see extreme athletes do handstand push-ups, and that’s a beast, no doubt. But it doesn’t work the chest – it slays the shoulders. If you can do the push-up to the left, you’re as strong as you ever need to be, and then some.
Next time – the pulling variations!
Learn more about how to get and stay in great shape? Contact Dan at Tri Valley Trainer