The Push-Up and all of its challenging variations target arm, chest, shoulder, upper- and middle-back and core muscles—all in one movement. Alternate the following Push-Up routines on non-consecutive days during full-body workouts. You will see increased upper-body strength, power, size, endurance and flexibility.
- Bench or chair
- Med ball
- 2 Dumbbells
- Water Bottle
- Perform upper-body dynamic warm-up (e.g., arm circles).
- Perform Push-Ups with proper technique. Keep your back straight, ab muscles tight, hands about shoulder-width apart, and head up and looking straight ahead.
- Use this rep tempo: lower in 2 seconds, press up in 1 second.
- Hydrate during rest periods between exercises or sets.
- Finish workouts with upper- and lower-body cool-down static stretches for greater flexibility.
Rest: 30 seconds between sets; 60 seconds between exercises to hydrate.
- Assume push-up position with hands shoulder-width apart.
- Hold for two seconds, then lower and explosively press up with your hands leaving the floor (1 second).
- Slowly descend and do two more explosive Push-Ups.
- Rest 30 seconds, perform four more sets, rest for 60 seconds.
Med Ball Elevated Push-Ups
This is another advanced and vigorous Push-Up. Elevated Med Ball Push-Ups are harder than standard floor Push-Ups. They really test upper-body strength and power, and they force core muscles to stabilize from the elevated position with hands atop the ball.
- Assume push-up position and place both hands on a med ball.
- Place one foot at a time on a bench or chair.
- Slowly descend in 2 seconds, pause 1 second, then quickly press up in 1 second.
- Perform two more reps, rest 30 seconds, then perform four more sets.
Hypertrophy (Size-Building) Routine
Rest: 15-30 seconds between sets; 45 seconds between exercises to hydrate.
DB Alternating Push-Ups/Pulls
The one-arm pulls (rows) and holds between Push-Ups engage the core muscles (abdominal, middle and lower back, and groin) and promote balance and core stability.
- Assume push-up position with both hands on dumbbells in a neutral-grip (palms facing each other).
- Lower slowly, pause and explosively press up.
- Immediately pull the right DB off the floor to your chest.
- Hold 2 seconds while squeezing your shoulder blades.
- Lower and continue Push-Up/right-hand DB pulls for nine more reps.
- Rest 15 seconds and do Push-Ups/left-hand DB pulls for 10 reps.
- Rest 30 seconds and do 2 more sets.
Single-Arm Med Ball Push-Ups with Foot Off Floor
This is another terrific core-strengthening exercise. Holding one foot off the floor further challenges your upper body and arms. Forcing muscles to work harder results in size and strength gains.
- Assume push-up position with your right hand on the med ball and your other hand on the floor.
- Lift your left foot off the floor.
- Perform 10 reps, then immediately switch with your left hand on the ball and your right foot off the floor for 10 reps.
Muscular Endurance/Upper- and Lower-Body Flexibility Routine
Sets/Reps: 2x as many reps as you can in 60 seconds.
Rest: 15-30 seconds between sets; 60 seconds between exercises to hydrate.
Endurance Push-Ups in 60 Seconds
- Assume standard push-up position.
- Slowly descend in 2 seconds, rapidly press up in one second and continue for 60 seconds.
Inchworms help improve both upper- and lower-body flexibility.
- Perform a Push-Up, then walk your feet toward your hands (keep your legs straight).
- Get your feet as close to your hands as possible, depending on your level of lower-body flexibility.
- Walk your hands forward to get back to a push-up position.
- Perform another Push-Up and continue Inchworm/Push-Up sequence.
- Perform as many Inchworms/Push-Ups as you can in 60 seconds.
Jim Carpentier, October 22, 2013