Aaah push ups, something no one likes to talk about but something anyone interested in losing weight should know how to do properly. Once you have perfected the movements of the traditional push up, you can begin to do variations to target specific muscles or to avoid injury to other muscles.
Most of us hate push ups because they remind us of how lacking we truly are in the strength department. That’s right, in addition to toning your chest and arms, push ups are a great way to determine your strength level in relation to your body weight.
The key to these push up variations is to remember the starting position of the traditional push up and change it up from there. Your hands should be shoulder width apart with your weight balanced on your toes and hands. Keep your back straight so your body forms a straight line from your head on down.
Push Up Variation #1: Triceps
The triceps push up is slightly more challenging, but so rewarding for men and women alike. Triceps make your arms look amazing in tank tops, or in no shirt at all! Besides, a well-rounded arm workout should include exercises for triceps.
Start in traditional push up position, but put your hands together right under your shoulders and be sure to keep your elbows close to your body. Don’t let your elbows fly out to the side as you would with a traditional push up. Lower yourself slowly to the floor while exhaling, take a moment, then push yourself back up while inhaling.
Push Up Variation #2: Shoulders
As we get older our joints and muscles experience more pains and aches. Unfortunately for many of us the solution to that problem is to stop working the shoulder muscles, which is the worst possible move. Aches and pains are the primary reason for doing different variations of push ups, to strengthen muscles and joints to heal or avoid injury.
Target your shoulder muscles by adding a workout bench or chair to your push up regimen. Start in traditional push up position, only place your toes on a bench or chair. Perform three sets of 10-15 repetitions to keep those muscles strong and working!
Push Up Variation #3: Torso
Working your torso may not be your main goal when you get on the floor for push ups, but for those of you who like to play sports for weight loss could use this trick. Tennis and baseball players will find this torso variation helpful to prevent pulling muscles and the torso and back.
Begin with your body in the traditional push up position and lower yourself down the same way. When you push yourself up, rotate your body so your right arm lifts and extends into a straight line with your left arm. Avoid injury by making sure your body looks like the letter ‘T’ when you straighten your arms. Lower your right arm down into traditional position before lowering yourself down to the traditional push up starting position again. Repeat on the left side.
Start slow with these and increase the number as your strength increases.
Push Up Variation #4: Biceps
You’re probably thinking that traditional push ups work your biceps just fine, and you’d be right. They do. But they tend to get a little stale after a few days and you forget to maintain the integrity of the moves, losing nearly all the effectiveness of doing push ups in the first place.
Do side tap push ups by starting in push up position. Perform the same motion as in traditional push ups, but when you come up tap the side of your thigh your left hand before you come down again. On your next trip up, tap your right thigh with your right hand before lowering yourself down again.
Push Up Variation #5: Chest
Whether you have pecs or breasts, toned chest muscles are important for overall arm strength. Shuffle push ups can help you accomplish this with less effort than an exercise machine. You’ll need a small platform raised a few inches from the ground.
To perform these push ups start in push up position, but place your left hand on the platform for the first full push up. On your way back up you will “shuffle” over so that you begin your next push up with your right arm on the platform. Remember your breathing throughout the shuffle push ups because you’re using more energy to complete these.
Push Up Variation #6: Stability & Shoulders
This next push up variation is tricky, but if done correctly you will improve your posture, grip strength, shoulders and midsection. You’ll need a barbell with weights on it, particularly the kind of barbell that rolls if you don’t perform the moves properly.
Wrap your hands around the barbell in classic push up starting position, balancing on your hands and toes. Slowly lower yourself down to the bar and then push yourself up, remembering to breathe throughout. It’s important that you focus on performing this move properly rather than just finishing them because one accidental sleep and your friends will be callin’ you Toothless Joe!
Push Up Variation #7: Strength
Ok so strength isn’t a muscle, per se, but it is a super important part of losing fat and gaining muscle. Strength training exercises like push ups help burn calories while building muscle. Variations of certain push ups may provide you ways to improve your strength during your normal workout routine. Simply add an additional rep or 2 of the one-handed push ups to the arm exercises you already perform.
Assume the traditional push up starting position, but spread your feet wider than shoulder-width apart. Start with your stronger side (so you don’t get discouraged right away) and place that hand on the ground. The other hand will be on the back of the thigh on the same side. Lower yourself down (while exhaling) and push yourself back up (while inhaling). Repeat on the other side, doing as many as you can.
Remember to keep your shoulders squared and your back as straight as possible a your hand behind your back.
So you see, even if you don’t have a gym membership or expensive workout equipment at home, you have options available to you. Finding arm exercises to meet your goals is easy; all you need is floor space and the desire to shed the fat!
What good are chest and arm exercises if you still have a flabby midsection? Find a way to strengthen and tone that six-pack that’s dying to be free of the fat by reading our review of The Truth About Six Pack Abs by Mike Geary.