Cue the *UGH* when told to do push-ups. I did this before getting into fitness and cringed hardcore. I admit, I didn’t love doing them either because I felt WEAK. And who want’s to feel that way? It wasn’t until I told myself, “this is the sh*t that makes your stronger. Just do one at a time.” That’s when I forced myself to try. Now I LOVE (well, tolerate more like) push-ups because they do exactly what I want them to do, make me feel accomplished without overdoing or wearing myself out.
If you saw my post on my sandbag and stair workout, I did a similar workout, but changed it a bit and added push-ups for my upper body routine! I did two variations of push-ups: basic push-ups using the sandbag and lat tap push-ups. I didn’t do the bird-dog, but its another great addition, so I figured I’d add it here.
Having a sandbag with me was self-motivation for me to get LOW on the push-up. I made myself TOUCH the bag every. damn. time. OI! Not to mention, I am feeling it today! Two sets of twenty reps, forty total push-ups. Every time I do them I’m reminded how great they are. Even without a sandbag, using a weight to touch or some kind of marker to get low are great self-motivators. During a personal training session, I hold my fist under my client’s chest and it works the same way. They aren’t a fan of it, but when they see their push-ups improving, they thank me.
Check out my Lat Tap push-ups on my Instagram! These I do on my knees because the focus for these is a little different. Although you do wanna get low to the floor, you want to touch your torso to the ground. Extend your arms in front and wide, tap the ground, bring hands to the sides of your armpits/shoulders, keep that core tight as you lift from the ground up. The lifting from the ground after tapping is the hardest part for me. I tend to bring up my chest first then my lower back follows. This is an indicator of a weak core/low back, as your torso should come up together. This push-up alone is another reason I do this! Making sure your keeping that core tight as well as using a mirror from the side is a good way to monitor your form. I hate admitting my weakness, but this is an obvious one to me and something I continually work on! Sometimes I have to cut my reps on these. Try doing five solid, quality lat taps with a straight back (as straight as possible) then rest.
Another good push-up variation I didn’t do in my workout, but is great for core stability and balance is the bird-dog pushup. Either on your knees or standard, perform a pushup, then extend your opposite leg to your opposite arm. For example, lift and extend your right leg and left arm. Repeat the push-up then extend your left leg and right arm. This one is SO good and incorporates balance and core that doesn’t always come with the other two.
Long story short: Push-ups are great because they have so much variety to them while gaining upper body strength without equipment. By far, my favorite upper body exercise to do with my HEAT class because NOTHING is needed and variety can be as complex or as simple as you want. Adding different componets like balance (bird-dog), core/lower back/lats (lat-tap), and the use of the sandbag to get lower (self-motivating), challenges all components, not to mention– a killer upper body workout!
Add them to your next workout the next time you’re low on equipment or you want to improve and challenge your upper body!
Join the conversation:
-How do you feel about push-ups?
-Any other good bodyweight upper body moves you do?
-How often to you strength train?