The push-up is a traditional upper body exercise favored by all branches of the military and most sports people as well as fitness enthusiasts. The push-up can be performed anytime and almost anywhere and requires no special equipment. There are many push-up variations that you can perform, some more challenging than others, all of which will condition your chest, shoulders and triceps. All types of push-ups can be made more difficult by elevating your feet or wearing a weighted vest.
Plyo--short for plyometric--push-ups will develop your push-up power. Adopt the regular push-up position with your arms straight and your body aligned. Bend your elbows and lower your chest to the floor. Dynamically extend your arms, and drive your body up and into the air so that your hands leave the floor. On landing, immediately bend your elbows and drop into another rep. Continue until you are no longer able to "get air." If you have any history of wrist problems, you should avoid this exercise.
Focusing more on the triceps than the shoulders, diamond push-ups are more challenging than regular push-ups. Place your hands on the floor so that your thumb and first finger are touching and you form a diamond shape with your hands. Walk your feet back and extend your legs, making sure your body is aligned. Keep your arms tucked into your sides, and bend your elbows to lower your chest to your hands. Push back up into full arm extension and repeat.
Staggered push-ups are a twist on regular push-ups. Adopt the push up position with your hands directly beneath your shoulders. Move your left hand down your body so that it is on the floor beneath your hip and your hands are offset. This puts more load onto your forward hand and is a progression exercise for learning one-handed push-ups. Lower your body to the floor and push back up, repeating for the desired number of repetitions. Rest for 30 to 60 seconds before repeating with your hands in opposite positions.
Deficit push-ups increase the range of movement, and therefore the difficulty, of push-ups. Place your hands on two bricks, small medicine balls, push up handles or dumbbells--anything that will raise your hands around 4 to 6 inches off of the floor. Walk your feet back, and adopt the regular push-up position. Bend your elbows and lower your chest below the level of your hands and towards the floor. Push back up into the starting position and repeat.
- "Designing Resistance Training Programs"; Steven Fleck and William Kraemer; 2003
- "ACSM's Resources for the Personal Trainer"; American College of Sports Medicine; 2009
Patrick Dale is an experienced writer who has written for a plethora of international publications. Also a lecturer and trainer of trainers, he is a major contributor for Ultra-FIT magazine and has been involved in fitness for 22 years. Other than a five-year service in the Royal Marines, Dale has always worked in health and fitness and never intends leaving.
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