Fitness & Health

Timeless exercise targets every muscle in your upper body

Photo credit: Marta Kierkus

Anytime, anywhere, with no equipment—that’s the beauty of pushups.

This exercise is great for anyone who not only wants to build their arms, but work out their chest and core as well.

But pushups can get boring at times, especially if you have been incorporating them into your workout since first year. So instead of the same-old, let me introduce you to some new styles.

It’s essential to first master the basics of a regular pushup. A pushup is easy in theory, but there’s plenty of room for error. Begin with your hands shoulder-width apart. Engage your upper back, shoulders, and arms to lift your body weight off the floor, and then slowly lower it back down. When lowering your body, you do not want to touch the floor with your chest.

The rule of thumb is to imagine a rolled up pair of socks right where your chest would touch, and only dip down to that height.

It’s important to keep a straight line from your head down to your ankles when you’re in the lifted position. In other words, keep your butt straight like the rest of that body.

Also, you shouldn’t be swaying your hips while going up and down. If you aren’t strong enough to lift your entire body, do the exact same exercise from your knees.

 

Wide grip pushup

Target area: chest

Difficultly: 2/5

Start in a normal pushup position with your hands shoulder-width apart. Then spread your hands wider. This will engage more of your chest in the exercise than your arms.

 

Diamond pushup

Target area: triceps

Difficulty: 3.5/5

Place your hands in a diamond shape underneath your chest with your index fingers and thumbs touching each other. When you lower your body, your elbows should bend closer to your body than a wide-grip pushup.

 

Single-leg pushup

Target area: upper body and core

Difficulty: 3/5

In a regular pushup position, lift one leg up off the ground and lower your body. Switch legs on each set or each five sets.

 

Feet-elevated pushup

Target area: upper body and core

Difficulty: 3/5 Start in a normal pushup position but with your feet elevated on a bench. The higher your feet are elevated, the more you’ll work your shoulders, chest, and core.

 

One-arm ball pushups

Target area: chest and core

Difficulty: 3.5/5

Start in a wide-grip pushup position, but have one hand on the ball and one hand on the floor. To make it more challenging, alternate the ball each set.

 

Ball pushups

Target area: triceps and core

Difficulty: 4/5

Start in the diamond pushup position, but with your hands on a ball. I like to use a medicine ball or a basketball; they’re the easiest for balance. Keep your hands close together and your abs tight for stability.