In Picture: Shwetambari Shetty, Nike Elevated Trainer, India
Push up exercises are great for revving up the strength of your arms. No matter how long it takes to master the standard push up, we all know that in the end, it is worth the pain. The power-packed technique trains your shoulders, sculpts those triceps and works on the chest muscles. Experts suggest that if you plan to work on your torso, your regime should ideally never be devoid of this fat-blasting exercise.
"Push ups are great to get strong, sculpted arms and upper back. It is the simplest way to use your own body weight to strengthen your body," shared Shwetambari Shetty, Nike Elevated Trainer, India and Co-founder, The Tribe Fitness Club, Bangalore.
We had delved deeper into the mechanism of a standard push up earlier. Not only did we talk about how to get push ups right, common mistakes to avoid but also how to build your stamina gradually while starting from the very basics - wall push-ups. For those who push up like a pro in at least double digits, now is the time we take your regime to the next level. If you aim to challenge yourself and keep pushing the threshold of physical endurance further, never forget your biggest foe - routine. Taking a cue from what almost all fitness experts preach, once your body gets comfortable with a particular exercise, alter it and make it more challenging.
Here we are to make your regular push ups more challenging. If you enjoy your sets of push ups these will only excite and thrill you further.
1. Spiderman Push Ups
Start with the regular push up position. Place your hands slightly wider than shoulder width. Bring your chest closer to the floor. As you go down, hold and move your right knee towards the right elbow. Get back up again and repeat on the other side. This variation puts extra load on your chest, arms and shoulders. "The engagement of the leg adds lot of load on the abdomen muscles as well," noted Shwetambari. You can do 2-3 sets of 10 reps each.
2. Wide and Narrow Grip Push Ups
The logic behind these two variants is quite simple. Place your hands wider than the 'standard' or shoulder-width for wide grip push ups and the opposite will give you narrow grip push ups. While wide grip will work on your chest and shoulders, close or narrow grip push ups chiefly target the triceps. You can begin with 3 sets of 5 reps each.
"One should be extremely careful while going wider while doing push ups. As you go wider pressure on your shoulders increases and chances of shoulder injuries get higher. Those with any kind of shoulder injury or shoulder pain should avoid doing wide grip completely. Place your palms slightly lower than the shoulder and chest to deviate the pressure from the shoulders in case you have shoulder issues," Dr. Gaurav Sharma, fitness manager, Sports Fit, Vasant Kunj.
3. T - Push Ups
Get into the standard push up position. Go down, come back up again and twist your body to face sideways, lift your hand up in the air and make a T. Get back in to the position and repeat. In my opinion, this exercise is an amalgamation of push ups and side plank pose (Vasisthasana). Apart from engaging your chest, arms and shoulders T push ups also work on the obliques and abdominal muscles. Begin with 3 sets of 5 each.
4. Single Leg Push Up
"These are one of my favourites. You can use the technique of a regular push up here with one leg lifted 8 to 10 inches off the ground. Do as many reps as possible, maybe 10 to 15 and then switch legs for the next set. Always remember to keep the body in one straight line. This one strengthens shoulders, chest, arms and your core," shared Shwetambari.
5. Plank Ups
Technically, these aren't really push ups but are excellent for your arms. I see them as a double whammy for your upper body as these marry push ups with planks. As the name suggests, get in to a push up position and go in to the plank position with one hand at a time. Come back up again using one hand at a time. Plank is a static exercise, when you add motion to it you take it a notch higher. These actively engage your shoulders, triceps, and core muscles with an additional load on your chest. You should aim to do 3 sets of 10 reps.
6. Push Back Push Up
This one has been on my 'to do' list for long. Here, instead of coming back on top you push your body backwards and then come back to the high plank position.
7. Diamond Push Up
Another good option which will target your chest as well as triceps. The exercise also engages your rectus abdominus and other abdominal muscles. It should be noted that techniques like diamond push ups fall into advanced training and should not be attempted without supervision.
8. Other Variations
Just in case you are looking out for more variety, try doing your regular push ups with your legs kept elevated. Many people also use medicine ball for the same purpose.