Remember the power of the push up


Apr 17, 2022
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Get Shredded!
The push up-a classic, timeless exercise that seems (in my opinion) to end up forgotten by many people. The classic push up isn't just something your football coach made you do for running the wrong route. There is a reason this exercise is the foundation for military is effective not only as a strength building exercise, it also builds endurance and burns fat.

I have been paying attention the past couple weeks at the gym as to what the most popular exercises are. I'm sure anyone who reads this has already listed them in their head, bench press, curls, cable station, leg press, etc... When surrrounded by thousands of dollars worth of equipment I think most people forget that a simple body weight exercise can be utalized in so many different ways.

The push up isn't simply a beginners chest exercise. Depending on the range of motion you allow (ie: how deep or shallow you go) your push up set can stress chest, triceps, lats, calves, core and a number of stabalizing muscles. It can be used as a starting warm up, an ending burnout, as one of several exercises in a "full body circuit" or it can stand alone. That's the beauty of this exercise, it can compliment just about any goal based work out routine.
I've put together this list describing the standard push up and some of it's different variations:

Standard push up
Start: Support your body in a "plank form" using the balls of your feet and the palms of you hands. Keep your feet together and your hands about shoulder width apart. You should have your arms straight but not locked out at elbows (simply put, keep arms slightly bent).

Finish: Using a 3 second down timing lower your torso until you are only a fraction of an inch from the floor. Using a 3 second up timing push yourself back to the start position.This is a single repatition.

Wide grip push ups-
same as standard only your hands should be wider than shoulder width apart and proceed with your push up. This places more emphasis on the chest and less on your triceps, front delts, and lats.

Close grip push ups-
Same as standard only your hands should be just inside shoulder width and proceed with your push up. This places more emphasis on your triceps, rear delts and lats.

Slow push ups-
start in standard start position and do a push up, only instead of 3 sec. down, 3 sec. up, use an exageratedly slow down and up movement to keep your muscles under tension longer. Down/up timing should be around 8-10 seconds with a 3-5 second hold at the bottom of the movement. This is one rep.

Stop and go push ups-
from the start position you should lower your torso one third of the way down-stop-give a 3 second count-continue another third of the way down-stop for another 3 second count-for a 3rd time lower the last third of the way till torso is a fraction of an inch off the floor and count a final 3 seconds. For the finishing move you want to quickly (using an "explosive") push yourself back to the start position. This is one rep.

Feet elevated push ups-
This is a standard push up only you will use a bench press or utility bench to elevate your feet. This shifts focus onto you upper chest and front delts. to make this more challenging rest your shins on a swiss ball and proceed. This forces you to balance with your core thus improving balance and stabalizing muscles

Staggered push ups-
Start with your feet in a standard starting position, but your hand placement will be staggered. Place one hand about 4 inches farther forward than the other and proceed with the standard push up motion. This is one rep. (With each set you should alternate hands) This push up adds a greater challenge to your abdominals and deltoid muscles.

Walking push ups-
Find a smooth flat surface that gives you 15-20 feet of distance. Start in a standard push up position with your feet resting on a towel or something that will easily slide on the surface you have chosen. Begin by lowering your torso one third of the way down and hold. Keeping your abdominals locked and your back straight you will actually "walk" on your hands dragging your feet. "Walk" a pre determinded distance. This is one set. This one is a killer that really hits a lot of muscles and tests your endurance.

Plyometric push ups-
Start in a standard push up position on a soft surface like carpet or an exercise mat. [Absorbing shock is important in any plyometric movement] The first half of this one is just a basic push up until you start the finishing up movement. When torso is a fraction of an inch off the floor quickly push yourself up with enough force to "launch" your hands off the floor. This is one rep. Some people do these with a clap for each rep. although that's more for show and in reality puts you at more risk for injury.

Pike push ups-
Start in a standard position. Walk your feet forward until about 3 feet behind your hands and your hips are up so that your body looks a little like a triange. You need to keep your legs straight and you neck in line with your back. Execute a push up, focusing on feeling the work in your delts and triceps. This is one rep.

Push ups have many benefits. Not only do they build strength and endurance, they also burn fat when done with proper intensity. This classic exercise can be done pretty much anywhere, anytime, and the variations are more than I can list. I hope this will remind someone that this exercise is effective and customizable. Anyone from a powerlifter to a body builder to an average Joe who hit's the gym for his health and appearance can and should use push ups and variations of push ups to compliment their workout routine. Below are some links that shows more hybrids that I didn't list. Enjoy!