Push ups are a great compound exercise that hit all the muscles in the upper body. They are also particularly tough for a beginner to master.
By building up your upper body strength with these variations of the push up you will be able to do rep after rep in no time!
Push-Up Variations for Beginners
#1 Wall push ups
Stand in front of a wall and lift your arms up to shoulder level. Place your palms on the wall so that they are in a slightly wider position than your shoulders. Keep your fingers pointing upwards, step your feet back away from the wall so that your elbows are bent.
Keep the back straight and push away from the wall so that your arms become straight, maintain a slight bend in the elbows throughout the exercise. Keep the abs (core) tight and breathe out as you push away from the wall.
Breathe in as you return to the starting position. You can make this exercise more difficult by adding in a longer pause at the top of the movement, or simply pausing halfway and holding this position for a few seconds. Complete the exercise at a slow pace and in a controlled movement.
#2 Incline push ups
Begin by putting your hands on a bench or incline of any kind that is stable and that you will be able to drop your chest all the way to the bottom of the movement – while keeping good form. Place the feet together and the palms outside the chest.
Pull in your stomach muscles and drive your heels back while squeezing the glutes. Press your torso upwards straightening the arms but not to a total lock out, always keep a slight bend in the elbow.
Lower the body back down in a controlled movement and press up again to repeat the exercise. As your strength increases, choose a lower bench or surface to push up from, soon you will be strong enough to do a full push up from the floor!
#3 Standard push up
Begin on the ground face down with the hands slightly farther apart than the shoulders holding the torso up. Lower your body down in a slow movement so that your chest nearly touches the ground as you breathe in.
Next press your body back to the starting position as you breathe out while squeezing the chest muscles. Pause for a moment then lower your body back down to complete another repetition.
You can make this exercise even tougher by elevating the feet on a higher surface such as a bench and performing the exercise.
#4 Triceps push up
Begin lying face down on the floor and place your hands in a close position inside the shoulders to place extra emphasis on the triceps. Hold the torso at arm’s length but keep a slight bend in the elbows. Lower your body until your chest nearly touches the floor as you breathe in.
Use your triceps and chest muscles to push the upper body back up again into the starting position and squeeze the chest muscles tight. Breathe out and hold this position for a moment. Repeat the movement again for as many reps as necessary.
This exercise can also be performed from a wall not just from the ground if you are a beginner to make it a little easier. If the wall version is too easy for you, simply perform the exercise with your hands on a bench to make it slightly harder, then as your strength builds you can do the floor version outlined above. If you are a more advanced lifter, you can also elevate your feet with this push up to make it tougher again.
Take Home Message
Mastering the push up can be intimidating for a beginner, but by simply modifying the exercise to suit your abilities and building from them, you can increase your strength until you are able to do the standard version from the floor.
The push up is basically a plank with movement, so working on your core strength with different variations of the plank will certainly help you to complete push ups with great form. Try incorporating these different types of push ups into your training routine!