Friday, January 28, 2011

Diversifying the Push-Up

True more or less.

One of the first exercises we tend to learn is the push-up and with good reason. When it's performed correctly, it's a great movement that engages almost the entire body. But, as we get proficient at the exercise the difficulty diminishes. It then becomes important to progressively increase the challenge and continue to get stronger.

The dilemma is going beyond the standard version. Luckily, the push-up is one of the most varied exercises and can easily become the spice of life in your routine. While the derivatives of the push-up are plenty, a few modifications can be applied to most, if not all, of the variations of it.
  • Either raise the hands or feet. The latter makes push-ups easier while elevating your feet makes it harder.
  • Example: Push-ups against a wall is less challenging than the standard version, but your feet on a chair is more difficult than against the floor.
  • Lift one leg, one arm, or both (opposite sides, i.e., left arm & right leg). One-arm push-ups are very advanced, but lifting one leg isn't nearly as hard. If you're really strong, you can lift one arm and one leg.
Hands Position
  • Easily the most overlooked point.
  • Similar to a supinated [underhand], pronated [overhand], or neutral grip, the same can be applied here. The supinated version puts a significant amount of stress on the wrists but performing them using hex dumbbell against the floor eliminates that issue.
  • Can be done on knuckles or fingertips. Fingertip push-ups are no joke and require a decent amount of grip and finger strength.
  • Diamond push-ups are quite misinterpreted. Instead, you're suppose to bring your hands closer together towards your midline/body's center. Like the bench press, elbows should be brought into the torso - not flared out - but that's not achievable the way the hands are place in diamond push-ups.
  • Your legs can also be brought close together [harder] or spread wide apart [easier].
  • Any external resistance: Weight vest, chains, or bands.
  • If you have a friend with you, you can have them place a plate on your back to load the exercise.
  • Putting your hands on any unstable surface requires more tension and places a greater demand on your upper-body.
  • Furniture sliders, medicine balls [1 or 2], a BOSU ball, a Swiss ball, suspension system/blast straps, or a surface of sand all fit this purpose.
There you have it. Many of these suggestions are also applicable to the plank. Additionally, you can combine one or more modifications together. For example, doing neutral grip push-ups on a medicine ball with your feet elevated. While it doesn't have to be that extravagant, you can change the exercise drastically without having to do much.

Lastly, the push-up doesn't always have to be used as a strength exercise. I personally use it as a movement in my dynamic warm-up - a few of each hand position and explosive push-ups. (Or something like this.)

Regardless of how you decide to use it, it's one hell of an exercise.

Have a good weekend everyone.

No relevance but when you search
"push-up" online, you see mad boobs.


  1. i love you. and everything you represent. you sexy.

  2. I knew you weren't watching me for my push-ups.


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