I know several personal trainers and bodyweight specialists who list the pushup as their all-time favorite exercise. You don’t need any equipment, it can be altered to suit your fitness level and can also be changed in various ways to suit a vast array of goals. It’s a simple move to perform and that’s where it’s beauty lies.
There are a huge range of variations of these exercises that you should incorporate at least one of them into your everyday routine, they can be used for joint mobility or explosive power, I have compiled 8 different variations here for you to try to see how far you can push yourself.
When a standard push-up begins to get too easy for you, the close push-up is a great alternative. By removing some of the distance between your hands you create less favourable leverage, giving it a new challenge as well as increasing the muscle-building characteristics of the classic version, the closer your hands are together the more difficult the exercise becomes.
Make sure you keep your elbows tight by your sides when doing close push-ups, this helps protect your joints and also helps get the most from your triceps in every rep. Aim for 30 strict reps per set.
This variation on a traditional press-up adds some flexibility into the exercise. Hindu push-ups add to the range of motion and recruit additional shoulder muscles.
Begin in a Yoga-style downward dog pose with your elbows locked, hips in the air and chest pressed toward your thighs. You will most likely feel a deep stretch towards your calves, hips, hamstrings and back, maybe anywhere on the back of your body.
Next lower your head toward the ground then swoop your chest back up dropping your hips as you look toward the sky, this provides a stretch for the whole front of the body. Pause briefly before pressing your hips back up to begin the next rep, Hindu push-ups do provide a bit of a mobility challenge at first but you should aim to gradually increase your range of motion over time.
Raising yourself up on just your fingers adds a whole new element to training, it adds to involving a large array of muscles that seldom get used, doing the push-ups on your fingertips can also increase your range of motion by allowing you to go lower.
If you are not quite there with strength yet to do one-finger push-ups then place one hand on an elevated object flat and the other on the ground with just your fingertips, switch hands on alternating sets. Soft surfaces such as rubber or grass are more forgiving at first, you can eventually condition yourself to workout on harder surfaces.
The term ‘fingertip push-up’ is actually a bit misleading, you are not on the very tips of your fingers but rather the pads of them with your fingers spread and the tips slightly bent back. Some people’s fingers will bend back more than others, this is not an issue just do not allow any other part of your palm to touch.
This is a more advanced variant of the fingertip push-up that does actually put you on the tips of your fingers with your hands in a claw position. Many purists call this the proper fingertip push-up, the earlier one is still the industry standard. This variant can be a useful tool for advanced grip techniques, you can start with a soft surface.
This is still classed as a fringe exercise to the mainstream, wrist push-ups (or back of the hand push-ups) have been used by martial artists, gymnasts and many other athletes for a long time who are looking to push their body to the limit. As before it is best to start with a soft surface as the skin on your hand backs will be sensitive at first, you probably only want to do this exercise once or twice a week at first.
Your wrists will soon adapt and get stronger, then add more volume as you see fit. A good way to ease into wrist push-ups is to start on one hand with the palm and the other on it’s back and then switch sides.
If you want a push-up that will give you a balance and stability challenge then this is the one for you, the gripwork involved is also a nice touch to the fingertips and wrists.
To practice iguana push-ups you will need a rail or straight bar to put under your body, grip the bar nice and tight whilst you cross one leg over the other and perform push-ups from this position, go slowly and brace your core to prevent tipping over, see if you can get to 10 in a row.
Very few upper-body plyometric exercises can compete with the clap push-up for improving explosive power, as the name suggests you do the exercise by pushing your entire torso off the ground at the top of a normal push-up rep followed by quickly lifting both hands and clapping in midair before coming back down and lowering yourself into the next rep.
You can start as a beginner with a wide stance with your feet for added leverage eventually getting to the stage whereby you can perform them with your feet together,, always start out with soft surfaces.
This simply the best in explosive calisthenics. The superman involves propelling your entire body away from the ground at the top of a push-up, whilst reaching overhead with your arms like you are flying. This is the king of plyo push-ups, the exercise helps build monstrous power.
Before you try to do this exercise, make sure you can do at least 10 clap push-ups followed by working on half supermans where your feet stay on the floor as an intermediate step. Once you can do five half supermans, start trying to lift your feet off the floor and going for the full superman.
It is best to have a good firm base with the basics before going for the more advanced variations. Try not to rush ahead if you are new to push-ups, aim for 30 standard push-ups as a baseline, then proceed to work through the list. As you get to the harder moves the amount of reps needed to proceed will reduce, five supermans will be enough to make you need a break, harder moves tax the body much more in fewer moves than the more basic stuff.
When it comes to push-up variation exercises, these 8 are just the tip of the iceberg, don’t be afraid to push yourself and aim for the sky.
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