Posted by: toughmudderlc | July 25, 2011

Push-Up Exercises to Target Chest, Arms, Shoulders, Back, and Torso

I was looking for an upper body workout that would deviate from my norm since doing bicep curls and sitting on a rowing machine can get boring if you’re doing it 3 days a week. There has always been an argument that push-ups are just as beneficial for your muscles as simple weight training, although I’m sure you’ll find bodybuilders who will argue that point. If there’s an exercise mat area in your gym big enough for you to do a good 20-30 minute push-up workout, then try some of the following amendments to the classic military and law enforcement challenge.

Push-Up and Row

Grab two dumbbells and assume a pushup position, with your arms straight. Perform a regular pushup, but as you fully extend your arms at the height of the push up, take one dumbbell and bring it all the way to the side of your chest. Lower your arm and descend back ot the start position. Repeat with the other arm. That’s one rep.

Push-Up with Rotation

Don’t attempt this exercise until you can do at least 20 to 30 classic push-ups comfortably. Perform push-up and at the top of your movement, rotate body into side-plank position with one arm on ground and other extended toward ceiling. Start off doing this without weights and add dumbbells as you become more secure. Slowly rotate back to top of push-up position. Perform push-up and repeat rotation to opposite side

*Do not allow your hips to dip when you rotate into the side position. Keep your hips high and your whole body rigid—especially your core—so your body forms a straight line. Your ankles, knees, hips, lumbar spine and shoulders should all be in
the same plane.

*This motion requires a tremendous amount of shoulder stabilization. When you get to the top of the rotation, the bottom shoulder is supporting and balancing a great deal of body weight, and your core has to work to keep your body rigid and in line.

Hands on an Object

Keep your body straight. The balls of your feet should be on the ground, and your hands should be on a wall, a desk, or steps of a staircase. You can gradually increase the difficulty of the exercise by first placing your hands on the wall, later on a desk, then on a chair (or by progressing to lower stairs on a staircase). By progressing to lower levels of hand placement, you increase the intensity of the exercise and your muscle strength.  By performing non-traditional push-ups such as these two modified push ups exercises, you are challenging your stabilizer muscles and training to a higher standard.

Feet on an Object

Keep your body straight with your hands on the ground and your feet on the chair, steps, or some object. Progressively elevate your feet to higher levels to increase the intensity. You may also increase the difficulty, hence your strength, by doing push-ups between chairs with your feet elevated and lowering yourself as far as your can between them. A lot of people will plant their feet on a flat bench in the gym – to increase the difficulty of this exercise and really work out your stabilizer muscles, try laying your feet on top of a Swiss Ball (inflatable exercise ball) in the gym. This exercise allows you to use your upper pecs more.

Wide Push-Ups

Same as the standard push-up, except hands are placed wider than shoulder width. This helps bring out your outer pectorals.  Augment this chest-blasting exercise by adding barbell or dumb bell bench press or chest flyes.  A lot of people neglect their chest workout when trying to increase their push ups.

Diamond Push-Ups

Same as the standard push-up, except hands are positioned under the middle of your chest. Put your hands together so there looks like there is a diamond in between them (Index fingers touch each other and thumbs touch each other). This helps develop your inner pecs and your triceps.

Plyometric Push-Ups

Drop yourself off a raised platform in a push-up position … to a pushup with a narrow hand position.  You can also do explosive pushups by pushing yourself off the ground, landing, then repeating — or you can push up then clap your hands together as your body reaches its peak.  Or have your partner push down on your back to increase resistance as you do your push up.

Along the same lines, to continue to target your torso (your abdominal muscles should be tight during all of the above exercises) do plank sets between push-up sets. Your abs will be completely screaming by the end of your workout, but that’s one of my favorite feelings…isn’t it yours, too? Of course, you could just plank everywhere you go considering it’s the new internet ‘craze”. Make sure to take a picture of it!


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