Nobody fantasizes about push-ups. They aren’t satisfying or impressive and, truthfully, can be rather boring. With so many fancy fitness machines available, why rely on your body weight to get the job done?
These opinions are understandable, but they overlook the beauty of this exercise. Push-ups can be a valuable strength-boosting addition to any workout routine, performed anywhere at no extra cost. Take advantage of these benefits and really push up your push-up game regardless of your current fitness level with these expert tips:
1. Experiment With Your Hands
By positioning your hands closer together or further apart you can access different muscle groups. Play with these widths, but when in doubt, set your thumbs in line with your armpits, keeping your elbows at a 45-degree angle. If your wrists tend to hurt during these routines, reduce the pressure by rotating your hands outward until your index fingers point forward. You can also dig your fingers into the ground to delegate some of the weight.
2. Focus on Your Core
Push-ups are often neglected as the essential core exercises that they are. You can measure your current core form by observing the positioning of your buttocks. Is your butt too high? Then your core engagement and weight distribution are incorrect. Is your butt too low? Then you may be dragging your spine down with it. Your posture should always be as straight as a board, so pull your navel towards your lower back and squeeze those abs as you descend.
3. Keep Your Head Up
This is a typical beginner’s error. Certainly, the relaxation of your neck muscles is important, but you still need your spine to be perfectly aligned, as this reduces overall strain and prevents injury. Pick a particular spot up ahead and focus your eyesight towards it at all times.
4. Single-Leg Push-Ups
One small alteration which hardly requires any extra thought is to simply lift one leg up during your reps. It may seem like an easy change, but you’ll be surprised at how much more difficult it becomes to maintain your balance in this precarious position.
5. Negative Push-Ups
This push-up variation is just like it sounds, as the inverse of your standard down-and-up practice. Set yourself in plank position, then slowly lower your body until your chest hits the floor. Once you’re lying flat, lift up your hands, pause for a moment, then quickly push your hands down, blasting yourself back into plank pose, and hold. That’s one rep. For those seeking rapid strength building, this plan is worth exploring.
6. Introduce a Resistance Band
There are various interesting ways to incorporate different equipment into your routine, but one can’t always go to the gym just to perform the perfect push-up. For the best of both worlds, use resistance bands to exercise at home as this simple apparatus doesn't take up much space and yet adds an intense challenge to your workout. To use, wrap the band around your shoulder blades and hold both ends in your palms. This should increase resistance to all stages of your push-up motion, especially when your arms are fully extended.
7. Introduce Weights
If you wish to maximize your push-up power, why not throw some weight training into the mix? The idea is simple: make yourself heavier, and therefore more difficult to lift. There are weight vests available, but with the help of a friend, you can also carefully balance a weight plate on top of your back which will enforce an acute awareness of your posture too. But don’t try this alone!
8. Introduce a Medicine Ball
The best way to activate your core is to lessen your stability. By keeping your elbows by your sides and pushing up on a medicine ball, your balance will become your priority as your tricep muscles explode into action. If you want to hit that next level of craziness, you can also use two balls, one under each hand.
9. Dumbbell Push-Ups
This push-up approach may seem very similar to the medicine ball suggestion but comes with its own unique set of advantages. By pushing up from raised dumbbells set upon the floor, you won’t be testing your core balance as much, but you will have the ability to lower your body even further down, adding more range to your workout.
10. Less is More
When it comes to push-ups, it’s all about quality over quantity. If you’re performing 10 incorrect push-ups, they will be much less effective than three flawless ones. Focus on perfection and challenge yourself to add one more rep every day. You’ll be surprised at how fast those numbers grow.