The push-up is an exercise nearly as old as time. Push-ups are great for sculpting muscles of the arms, chest, back, and the core.
A set of push-ups is a great way to get some cardiovascular exercise and do some strength training at the same time. This makes the good old push-up the perfect exercise for a person who needs to squeeze in a workout before the start of a busy day. Here are a few push-up variations that will put all your muscles to work.
1) The Classic Push-Up
The traditional push-up works muscles of the chest and core. To do it, get in the plank position, with each of your palms positioned right under each shoulder. Lower your body by bending your arms at the elbows and lift the body back to the plank position by straightening your arms.
2) Staggered Push-Ups
To do this type of push-up, assume the plank position. Leave one hand at shoulder level and place the other at neck level so that one hand is in front of the other. Lower the body by bending the elbows and remember to aim your elbows backward as you bend them. Lift your body by straightening the arms.
Staggered push-ups target the arm, chest, and abdominal muscles on the side of the body with the palm at shoulder level. Perform an even number of sets, with alternate sets of push-ups targeting alternate sides of the body.
3) Decline Push-Ups
Decline push-ups require the feet to be elevated above the rest of the body. Get into the plank position with your feet on a workout bench and with each palm directly below each shoulder. Your body should be sloped downward, with your head at the lowest point.
Lower your body by bending the elbows and then lift your body. Perform the push-ups until you complete a set of 10 or 20. Doing decline push-ups is a difficult exercise that targets the core and chest muscles.
4) Plyometric/Clap Push-Ups
With clap push-ups, you need a burst of force to launch yourself from the floor and keep your body from slamming into the ground. You start in the plank position and use explosive force to spring your body from the floor. While your body is in the air, clap your hands and quickly place your hands in the starting position.
Complete a set of 10 or 20 of these push-ups. You will really feel the burn in the muscles in your core, chest, and back, not to mention your arms and legs.
5) The Spiderman Push-Up
Make like a spider and do your push-ups while pretending to crawl up a wall. This particular type of push-up exercises muscles in the core, chest, arms, and shoulders. It also targets muscles on the side of your torso.
To do the spiderman, start by assuming the plank position. As always, keep your body as straight as a plank. While you lower your body, bring your left knee to your left elbow. As you raise your body to resume the plank position, straighten the bent leg.
Now that you are in the plank position again, lower yourself while bringing the right knee to your right elbow. Raise yourself back to the plank position and straighten your right leg as you do it.
6) The Push-Up And Side Plank Combo
Get a full-body workout by combining two push-ups and two side planks into a single rep. The exercise will work all the muscles in the legs and torso while testing your sense of balance. This is how you do it.
Assume the plank position and lower yourself by bending your elbows. Raise yourself by straightening your arms and turn to your side while supporting yourself with the right arm. Raise the left arm to the ceiling and keep your body in a straight, diagonal line.
Hold the side plank position for a second or two and resume the starting position for the push-up. Do a second push-up followed by another side plank, only this time support yourself with your left arm.
Let us count this as one repetition, although it can count as two. However you count, this particular type of push-up will work most muscles in your body.
7) The Superman Push-Up
Like the clap push-up, the superman push-up needs a burst of force to propel your body upward. You also need the same force to brace your body as it hits the floor to protect yourself from an epic face plant.
The exercise targets muscles in your chest and to a lesser extent your core. This is how you do it: Get into the plank position and use lots of force to propel your whole body off the floor. While you are in the air, push your arms in front of you in a superman pose.
Now quickly brace yourself as you land by putting your arms back in the starting position, that is, with your hands right under the shoulders.
For maximum effect, you should keep your body straight with each rep, which means you need to have a good foundation with less challenging push-ups.
Push-ups work best with good form. Remember not to hunch your shoulders. Also, tighten your core to prevent your midsection from sagging. The result will be that your body remains straight for each push-up, and your good posture will make the push-ups that much more effective.