Push-ups are a versatile exercise that should be part of any muscle-building routine, which is why every military branch includes push-ups as part of boot-camp training. They can be performed in a variety of ways to put emphasis on different muscles and increase difficulty levels. Push-ups are a versatile exercise too -- they require no special equipment, meaning they can be done anywhere, and you can start with fewer repetitions and increase as your muscles grow.
- Skill level:
Get into a push-up stance, but instead of keeping hands underneath shoulders, extend them beyond shoulders as far as possible. Keep hands flat on the ground, with fingers facing forward or turned just slightly inward, and lower your body until your nose almost touches the ground, then return to the beginning stance. This is known as a wide stance push-up. Instead of distributing body weight evenly among your chest, shoulders and triceps, this focuses tension on the chest muscles only. Do as many reps as you can, increasing with time.
Place your feet on a higher surface than the floor to perform decline push-ups, in which your head is lower than your feet. You can use a chair, stool or bench for your feet. The higher your feet are, the more difficult the push-up. These work upper pectoral muscles. Once feet are in place, perform push-ups as usual, doing as many reps as you can.
Place your feet back on the floor, and now place your hands on a higher surface such as a bench, couch or two sturdy chairs. These are known as incline push-ups, and they work your lower pectoral muscles. Once hands are firmly in place, perform push-ups as usual, doing as many reps as you can.
Tips and warnings
- Narrow stance push-ups, in which hands are placed inside shoulders with fingers touching, are good for working triceps.
- Always consult your doctor before beginning a new fitness plan.
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