Why chose to do pushups over a chest press? For most, pushups may seem harder than a chest press which is all the more reason to get on the floor and increase your upper body strength the old fashion way. Performing pushups on a regular basis helps to build strength in the arms, shoulders, forearms, wrist, and chest. That’s a lot of muscles from just one exercise! Performing pushups correctly can also help to build core strength. I teach a couple strength classes a week at a corporate fitness center and I’m always reminding my participants to use their core just as much as their upper bodies when performing variations of pushups.
Speaking of variations, pushups can be fun because you can get creative from the traditional exercise. Typically, women have less upper body strength than men but that’s no excuse anymore! There are modifications so everyone can benefit from them. Performing pushups on the knees is a little less intense than up on the toes. The best part about this simple yet complex exercise is it requires minimal space and equipment. You can get a great upper body workout in your hotel room or living room performing a variety of pushups. Try some of these I’ve listed for you below…..
- Uneven pushups – One hand up on a step, medicine ball, or stack a couple of books (example – phone book) and the other hand on the floor, arms straight. Lower chest & and hips towards the floor, use the upper body and core to push yourself back to the starting position. Perform 10 reps then switch hands for 10 more. These, just like most, can be done on your knees or toes.
- Incline pushups – Place hands on the edge of the bathtub, step, couch, or bed (something stable), arms straight. Lower chest & and hips down, use the upper body and core to push yourself back to the starting position. Perform 12-15 reps.
- Decline pushups– Place feet up on a step, edge of the bathtub, couch, chair, stability or BOSU ball, or bed (something stable), hands on the floor & arms straight. Lower chest & and hips down, use the upper body and core to push yourself back to the starting position. Perform 12-15 reps.
- This is a more advanced exercise because it may be challenging to do this on the knees. Although, if you use a stability ball place the thighs on the ball for less intensity. Or, roll out so the feet are on the ball to increase intensity.
- Push up jacks– Perform a regular pushup, hands & feet on the floor. Lower chest & and hips towards the floor, use the upper body and core to push yourself back to the starting position. Then, hop both feet apart and back together similar to a jumping jack but on the toes with hands on the floor. One jack to one pushup equals one rep. Perform 10-12 reps.
- If you want to do the push up on the knees, pop up on the toes for the jack part, then back to the knees for the push up.
Pushups get the heart rate up for a great upper body strength workout, so don’t be surprised if you are out of breath! Ready, set, go!!