The push up is a time-tested total body exercise that can be inserted into virtually any workout routine. It's also much more than just an arm (or chest) workout, as it provides a core strengthening exercise that can provide everything from building muscle to improving your posture.
Better yet, there's more than just one way to do a push up. By varying your body and arm positioning, you can target certain muscles while also benefiting your entire body.
So, the next time you get down on the mat to do push ups, consider adding the following variations to your routine.
Wide-Grip Push Ups
A classic variation on the standard push up, the wide-grip version adds a degree of difficulty because it makes it tougher to push your body upward. It targets the chest, triceps and muscles in the front of the shoulder, with the shoulders and chest lifting with the assist of the triceps.
Incline Push Ups
The most commonly used version, the incline push up targets the muscles of the chest and others. With the triceps, deltoids and core muscles activated during the exercise, less stress is placed on the elbows as the weight lifted is distributed more evenly. They can even be used as a pre- or post-exercise stretch.
Decline Push Ups
To do a decline push up, you'll need to place your feet at a higher elevation than your hands. This means resting your feet on a chair, bench, stair step, or anything else that lifts your feet off the ground. The level of difficulty is increased as you target the chest, shoulders, arms and back. Maintaining the proper body position requires additional strength and stability in the core, legs and back.
One-Arm Push Ups
You'll feel this variation in your abdominal muscles and obliques as they work harder to keep the body stabilized on one arm. Meanwhile, you're also strengthening the chest and triceps muscles while building a solid core. The one-arm push up requires greater body control, which will aid building muscle and strength.
T Push Ups
Another variation of the standard push up, the T push up is a good all-around strength builder that builds additional strength in the chest, shoulders arm and core. To do it, perform a regular push-up but at the top swing one arm from the floor toward the ceiling while twisting your torso. Repeat, but use the opposite arm.
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