Best Bodyweight Exercises - Body Weight
Push Ups & Variations
One of the most effective, and most well-known, bodyweight
exercises is the Push Up. In order to perform a push up, you don't need any equipment:
just yourself. You can also do a push up anywhere, anytime, anyplace: you just
need some steps on how to do one properly and some variations in case you get
bored with the most basic version.
The Basic Push Up:
you may ask why performing push ups are so valuable. The push up has the functional
importance of gaining strength to push your babies stroller with more ease, lift
things above your head, or throw a baseball or basketball harder and faster. Push
ups super effective for strengthening your entire core, especially your abs. When
you perform the variations explained below, which position your hands or feet
on unstable surfaces, you are forced to focus on rotational stability to keep
your body tight and your back flat. By performing basic push ups, as well as these
variations, you will also see your shoulders getting stronger and looking sexier-
which is one of the best benefits. Needless to say, push ups are one of the best
bodyweight, total body workouts there is.
Second, you want to know how
to do a basic push up. Here is an easy step-by-step guide:
face down on the floor or against a hard surface that can support your body weight.
You can always use an incline for which to place your hands if you cannot perform
a push up on the ground correctly. Please don't get on your knees and try to perform,
what you may call, a "girl" push up. There is no such thing. After you
get into your prone position with your hands shoulder width apart, check to see
that your feet are together.
- Your hands will be at shoulder height
(thumbs extended), on the ground or against the hard surface, and your toes will
curl slightly under you as you start your basic support on your feet. Keep in
mind that the higher you position your hands above your shoulders that the harder
it will be to push up.
- Raise your body using your arms/shoulders
and at the highest point (the plank position), you will notice that your body
is being supported by your hands and the balls of your feet. This is your beginning
and end phase of one rep (from ground to this extended position) of a push-up.
The lowering phase includes you letting yourself to the ground until your elbows
are at a ninety degree angle, keeping your head neutral, your hips from sagging,
and your abs strong and tight. Your face is pointed downward, as you will be looking
downward the entire time.
- You want to raise your body up again,
keeping your torso strong and head neutral. You will feel your shoulders and chest
working the most, but you will also feel your triceps working as well. You have
now completed one complete rep of the push up.
SOME FUN VARIATIONS
OF THE BASIC PUSH UP:
1. T-PUSH UP:
This involves movement in both the saggital and transverse planes: or, more simply,
it involves both a push and a twist. Your starting position is on the floor, push-up
ready. You want to push up with straight arms, then twist to one side and extend
your arm straight up to the ceiling, as your body makes a lower-case "T",
keeping your body in complete alignment again. You are working on stabilizing
your body in this "T" position with your shoulder arm that is still
straight on the ground. Focus on pushing your body and stabilizing after you twist
in this position for about a 1-2 count before rotating back down and performing
the rep again, but then twisting to the alternate side. As soon as you get this
down, you can begin to add weights, as in dumbbells on your hands. You will be
lifting the weight as you twist to each side, which will make this move tougher
for sure. You can start with 5lb dumbbells and as you get stronger, move up from
2. FEET ELEVATED:
way to make the push up more challenging is to get your toes on a higher surface.
I always put my feet on a step that roughly 12" high. That is usually challenging
enough, but you can always go higher as long as you keep your strong back position
and still getting full range of motion.
- Add a Single Leg hip
extension by, at the top of your push up with your arms fully extended, you lift
your right foot off the ground about three inches and squeeze with your glutes
and hamstrings, and hold for about 3 seconds. Then, lower yourself down to 90
degrees, and push up again and repeat the hip extension, now using your other
leg. Repeat at least 10 times each leg for a total of 20 push ups.
3. HANDS ON A ROCKER-BOARD: (or other unstable surface)
Another way to improve rotational stability is to put your hands on an unstable
surface during the push up. Two of my favorite ways of doing this is to place
your hands on a rocker board, a 2'x2' wooden teeter-totter, or a Swiss Ball.
will keep your feet down on the ground as you push yourself up on either the rocker
board or the Swiss Ball. You will have to keep yourself from moving too much to
either side as your core strength and stability will be pushed to the max as you
try to push-up while still keeping your balance. That is what makes this fun!
to do at least 10 repetitions and complete 2 sets.
FEET ON 2 SWISS BALLS:
If you would really like a challenge, try doing a push up with your hands on the
ground and your feet on a swiss ball. My coach has even had me add my hands on
a rocker board as I keep my feet on the Swiss ball as well. Two unstable surfaces
will help you gain strength gains in core strength (abs, back) and rotational
stability. You always want to make sure that you are keeping your torso steady
and strong, not ever letting your hips sag or your shoulders creep up to your
ears. Head stays neutral the entire time and make sure to breathe as you lower
yourself to the surface.
5. PUSH UP WITH ROW:
You can add a pull to your push-up for some extra variation. First, you want to
grab some dumbbells that you will be able to perform a one-point dumbbell row
with (for me, I use 12 lb dumbbells). You want to push yourself up into the top,
or plank, position of the push up, each hand on a dumbbell. Your feet will be
on the ground.
- Once in the plank position, you will row one arm
at a time, straight back, with your elbow in tight to you, and then lower it.
Then, row the other arm in, and lower it. Repeat 10 times for each arm, complete
- With the additional rows as you push up, you will add
extra focus to your back as you continue to focus on rotational stability and
core strength, zeroing in on your chest and shoulders for the push up.
THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN PERFORMING PUSH UPS:
- Always take time to
stretch out your shoulders and your chest before you push-up.
If you feel pain in the chest, shoulders, or other area of the upper body, you
probably have done too many reps. Performing push ups properly takes time. Remember
that if you are just starting using these consistently in your exercise program,
start with a more manageable amount of reps, such as 6 or so, before you try to
increase to 12 or more.
- Understand that any pain or tightening
in your lower back is caused by fatigue. You want to stop performing your push
ups when your lower back is tired, or your hips begin to sag. Keep your abs tight!
Also, remember to keep your back straight and head neutral. If you drop your head,
or your back is hunched and/or rounded, you are putting unnecessary strain in
areas of your shoulders or trapezius and not using the muscles that are intended
for a proper push up.