HOW TO PROGRESS THROUGH PUSH UP VARIATIONS
How to progress through push up variations, is a step-by-step process for strengthening, as you increase the lift variation of your push up. Step #1 is figuring out which variation to start with.
If you are brand new to strength training or whole body moves, best to start with the lowest resistance push up and work your way up to the highest. If you have done some strengthening, try first on all four limbs and see how you do.
STANDARD PUSH UP VARIATIONS …
WALL PUSH UP
Beginners or anyone with a shoulder injury, are best to start here! This push up will build shoulder and chest strength, without as much strain on your muscles. Please remember to be very aware of what your whole body is doing. The more you control your body, the less likely you are to be injured. Think though every step of the push up.
Stand arms length from the wall, with your arms placed about ear height, on the wall. Your ENTIRE foot remains in contact with the floor, throughout the whole push up. If it does not, adjust your distance from the wall. Keep your spine in a straight line and slowly move your body from ankles up, in towards the wall, using your arms as levers. Your nose will come right up to the wall and then use your arms to push yourself back into the starting position. Repeat.
PUSH UP ON ALL FOUR LIMBS
This push up starts on all fours (hands and knees). Your hips, in starting position, are directly above your knees. Be careful with arm position, with your wrists under elbows, before you start to lower yourself towards the floor. From here, you lower your nose down towards the floor and push back up, slowly and carefully. Tight abs, straight back. Repeat.
WEDGE PUSH UP
A wedge push up SIGNIFICANTLY increases the resistance (weight lifted)!!! Be careful not to move to this push up variation too soon. You may only be able to do 1 or 2 at first and that is okay! This is your workout and you can move at your own pace.
Your knees are further back in this push up, creating a wedge with your body. This will have you lifting your body weight, from the knees forward. Lower yourself down slowly, a tight abdomen will secure your back and keep your spine straight too. Nose comes down to the mat and lift back up. Repeat.
FULL BODY POSITION
Full disclosure – I can no longer do this push up and I no longer aspire to! What you see here, is plank position before your drop down into your push up. Push ups do not have to come all the way back up to full plank and can lift only to elbow height and repeat. This takes a lot of upper body strength.
Your progress through push up variations to this point, means you are doing an amazing job of strengthening your arms and chest! A full-body push up starts in a plank position and pushes your entire body up and down, with each push up. This maximum, whole-body move is not necessary, if you are wanting to achieve practical fitness and not SUPER FITNESS (You Choose Fitness or Super Fitness).
Progress through push up variations by working up to 2 sets of 12 reps, as described in Know How To Build Your Own Movement Practice, then you are ready to increase your resistance. Be safe when increasing reps and sets, add on when you are confident your current variation is being performed smoothly, safely and with much more ease than when you began. Adding 2 reps at a time is pretty common, but 1-at-a-time works too. Remember, there is no pressure, but that which you create yourself. You are doing a great job and no one needs to compare themselves to anyone else.
Progress through the variations, as they are presented here. REGARDLESS of position, this movement, which focuses on arms and chest, is a whole body exercise when you control your abdomen and your leg muscles. Think like a PLANK … every muscle in good control, firm and safe!
If you have been following these how-to calisthenic blog posts, you may have identified some commonalities.
- Though each movement has a large muscle group they focus on, i.e. squats focus on legs, if you control your body’s large muscle groups while performing them, you indeed are performing whole-body movements.
- Each has variations for beginners or your desired level of achievement.
- Each requires that you control your muscles to maintain safety.
I suggest you master a 1 minute plank (in either position), before moving on to push ups! Mensjournal.com has a great article that includes many more push up variations, if you are interested.
THE END GAME
My hope is that with each new post in this series, you are adding onto your calisthenics workout. Currently, you have squats, planks and burpees (links below) and now push ups to work with too. More to come! Done in sequence, these anaerobic movements, become aerobic, which is why a 5-move workout, will challenge your body and build muscle from head-to-toe, while increasing lung capacity!