Who doesn't want sexy, sculpted arms, shoulders, and an upper back they're proud to bare? Push-ups are one exercise sure to give you the results you're after. Although basic push-ups are effective, there's no need to keep it simple. Try these three variations to work your upper body in new and challenging ways. If these push-ups are too difficult to do with your legs straight, rest your knees on the floor. Each of these exercises works one side at a time. Complete 10 reps of each variation (five on each side) for a total of 30 push-ups.
One Elbow In, One Elbow Out
Itching for more short workouts? Check out these Weekend Workouts to learn how to tone other areas of your body.
If you're looking for lean, toned arms, you need to make push-ups your number one friend. You'll be so glad you did, too. A push-up is a move that requires no equipment, but pays off in big ways — namely, a strong upper body. To make workouts more challenging, I am all about variety, especially with push-ups! Changing up the classic move will make things more exciting and work muscles you might ignore, otherwise.
Two years in a row, Jessica Biel has won the FitSugar title of "Fittest Female Celeb." Her feminine toned and buff arms are coveted by many Sugar readers, and I agree they're pretty inspirational. Her secret? The basic push-up — her trainer Jason Walsh swears by them. He says they are a must-do move for incredible arms, and I agree. Plus you can do push-ups anywhere, anytime. If regular push-ups bore you, check out a bunch of push-up variations when you start the slideshow.
There's something about push-ups that makes me feel so accomplished after I've finished a set. The total body exertion gets my heart rate up and I feel stronger after doing them. I like to challenge myself by doing at least one extra push-up than I did the last time, and I keep things interesting by varying the pace of my push-ups.
The classic push-up is a great way to tone your upper half, and changing the pace anywhere from two to four counts while lowering yourself toward the ground, as well as when you are pushing yourself up, will create an added challenge. If your goal is 20 push-ups, try doing 10 of those push-ups taking two counts on the down and two counts to get back up. Work toward taking four counts to lower yourself and to push yourself up. This will keep your body guessing and help you avoid any kind of push-up plateau. If you need a refresher on how to do a proper push-up, check out my tips.
Now that you've got the push-up under control, how about making it a little bit more challenging?
All you have to do is add a little decline to the push-up. Adding decline is a great way to target your upper body (chest) muscles more than just a regular push up and the best part is that you use your own body weight for resistance. Start easy with your feet on a low step or small bosu. Work your way up to putting your feet on something higher like a stacked step, a bench or even an exercise ball to really challenge yourself.
Fit's Tip: Do not compromise form. If you find that it is too challenging to put your feet on an incline and still keep good form, then work on building strength before trying this variation.
When I say push-ups, I am not talking about the bra. Nope. I am talking about the classic exercise, as in "Drop and give me 50." Now nobody is saying you need to start your day out with 50 push-ups just because you are now engaged, or because it is tank top season. Let's face it every bride and every tank top wearer wants toned arms and to get them the push-up is your best friend.
When I taught Pilates, I trained many a bride-to-be and doing the Method, lifting weights or taking a yoga class once a week is not going to give you the arms you want. So on your days off from your bootcamp you need to add some push-ups into your daily routine every other day. Just knowing that push-ups work five major muscle groups at once might just be motivation enough.
Here are a few tips to ensure that you and push-ups become fast friends:
- Spread your fingers wide and spread the weight evenly between your finger tips and your palms. This helps keep the strain out of your wrists.
- Inhale as you bend your elbows, and exhale as you straighten your elbows.
- Let your core help you. Pull your navel to your spine and imagine the action is helping you push the floor away.
- Imagine you are one long board, from your heels to the crown of your head. Don't stick your booty in the air (breaking at your hip crease) and don't sag in your low back that will hurt your spine.
- You will work your triceps more if your hands are right under your shoulders keeping your elbows close to your sides as they bend.
- To work your pecs more, place your hands slightly wider than your shoulders. When you bend your arms your elbows should move directly out to the sides.
Now if doing a "classic" push-up seems completely out of the question, there are some variations for you to try as you work your way up to the full press. To see them read more