Category Archives: Man Bicep Push Up Craze
A bit ago I posted about how to do a perfect push up.
Today, I want to talk about all the fun and different challenging variations of push ups you can do.
For some of you, these will be easily doable now. For others, this is something to motivate you to EARN these harder exercises.
Do not attempt these if you haven’t mastered at least a perfect push up from your knees. Many of these can be done from your knees.
HOWEVER, many of these are more difficult than even a perfect push up from your toes.
Anyway, maybe these will be a fun challenge for some of you to try out tomorrow during you 4th of July BBQ! See what other push up variations you can come up with!
1. The Push Up Climb - So this one is difficult because it includes a ton of push ups and because you are doing a variety of push ups as you climb your way back and forth across the weights. You can honestly set up as many different “hills” as you want. I did three. Two smaller ones and a taller one in the middle. Perform a push up besides the first tower. Then climb one hand up on the weights and do another push up. Then place both hands on top of the weights and do a close grip push up. Then climb one hand down and do another push up. Then both hands should be down on the ground for a narrower push up. Repeat up and down the next few towers. A great way to really hit your chest, shoulders and triceps from a few different angles. This can be done from knees or toes. You can even turn it into a competition and see who can get back and forth across the most times before failing! (I have a sick sense of fun…I know…)
2. Push Up to Dip - Seriously one of my favorite moves. Set up two kettlebells or two push up stands. The stands should be narrow enough that you really can only slide your feet through. Perform two push ups on the stands and then swing your legs through and perform two dips. The more you “swing” through and the less you walk back and forth through the kettlebells, the more challenging the move will become. Make sure that when you do the dip, your butt is back by the kettlebell. This move can be regressed in a couple of different ways. It can be done from the knees or even on an incline. You can use a bench and do two push ups followed by two dips off the bench. Do about 5 rounds of this….Sounds easy to only do 10 push ups but with the dip in between your triceps get a bit shot.
3. Handstand Push Up - A great shoulder move and really works your core. Set up in a handstand and then drop your head toward the ground before pushing back up. This move can be made a bit easier if done as a pike push up off a bench or box…Like in the IKEA table workout! Or it can be made more difficult by doing it free-standing!
4. Spiderman Push Up - With this move you get in some oblique work as well. Perform a push up. Holding at the bottom of the push up, bring one knee outside your body toward the same elbow. Then put the foot back and do another push up bringing the foot in on the other side. You can also do both feet in every push up! Could be done on an incline to make it easier although you won’t get as much benefit out of bringing the knee in.
5. The Belly Button Push Up - I’ve debated about whether or not this is the hardest one on the list. Still not sure but it is definitely up at the top. Lie facedown on the ground with the heel of your hands down beside your belly button. Push up and then return back down.
6. Decline Push Up - One of my favorites and a great way to hit a different portion of your chest. Put your feet up on something and perform a push up. Your hands will not be directly outside your chest when you do this one.
7. Close to Wide Grip Push Up - If you want to hit EVERYTHING, do these push ups. Start with a diamond push up. Then slowly walk your hands out one at a time until you perform a wide push up.
8. Staggered Push Up - Honestly I think this one looks cooler than it is difficult. Just a great way to add some variety and keep your push up workouts interesting. Place one hand up by your head with finger tips pointing in and the other hand as normal outside your chest. Perform some push ups and then switch which hand is staggered forward. You could even add in a little plyo move and switch your hands every time!
9. “No Feet” Push Up - This is called the “no feet” push up because your feet are up on the wall and you are performing a push up. A great way to work your core and make sure everything is engaged. A bit easier if your shoes have traction! Walk your feet up the wall until in a good push up position. Then do a regular push up without letting your feet slide.
10. T Push Up – This push ups gives you a little extra shoulder and core work and can be done from the toes, the knees and even on an incline. Set up in a regular push up position. Do a push up and then rotate open balancing on one hand as if you are doing a side plank. Hold and then rotate back to a push up position. Do another push up and rotate to the other side.
BONUS: Back and chest move – Push up to plank row!
What’s your favorite push up move? Clapping? One handed? With chains hanging off of you?
In my opinion two of the hardest bodyweight moves, especially for women, are pull ups and push ups.
These are also, in my opinion, two moves that EVERYONE should be able to do!
The other week, I outlined some tips and progressions to help you build toward a full pull up and today I want to address the push up.
A few things I usually see when clients do “push ups:”
- They don’t go all the way down. They bend their elbows maybe an inch. (Guys do the opposite of this where they don’t actually lock out at the end of the push up)
- Their head juts forward as if they are looking towards their toes.
- Their shoulder blades are jutting out.
- Their elbows flare out way up by their ears and their fingers are rotated in toward their chest.
- They do THE WORM!
Here is a photo of some pretty ugly form….doing a number of the bad things above.
So if you do one….or maybe all…of these things, how do you do a perfect push up?
Perfect push ups form:
- Your body is in line from your heels to the tip of your head. Your finger tips should be pointing forwards and your hands should be right outside your chest. Your feet are together not shoulder or hip width apart.
- At the top of your push up, your arms are locked out and your legs are straight. You are squeezing your butt cheeks and are drawing your belly button in toward your spine. You are in a straight line. Hips aren’t dropping to the ground. Head is jutting forward. Back is not excessively arched.
- As you lower down, you lower your chest directly between your hands, keeping a nice straight line. Your elbows shouldn’t flare out from your body. Your elbows should almost make an arrow with your body. Like –> Your shoulders, elbows and wrists should all be in a straight line.
- Your chest should touch the ground when you lower. Your body should move together. Hips shouldn’t move back up first. Everything should lift as one. Don’t let the hips sag or the elbows flare out as you lift.
- You should then return to the exact same position you started with.
Now that you know the form for a great push up that doesn’t mean you are going to be able to perform one perfectly.
First you have to address the issues you are having with your form.
While a full range of motion is something that you have to practice and developing strength in your chest, shoulders and triceps is always beneficial, there are some other issues you have to address first.
Below I address areas you should foam roll, stretch and strengthen if you are having some of the problems I listed above. If you don’t know if your form is breaking down, have a friend or a trainer watch you perform a push up!
Problems and some fixes:
- Head jutting forward and/or chin tucked to chest - Roll out and stretch your upper traps and neck.
- Scapular winging (aka if your shoulder blades are really popping out) – Roll out and stretch your chest. Strengthen your mid and lower traps with the scapular wall hold. You can also strengthen your traps and your serratus anterior (the muscles sort of on your ribs under your armpit and down the side) with this great exercise, the push up plus or scapular push up.
- Shoulders are up by your ears - If your shoulders are up by your ears, roll out and stretch your traps and your neck. You are also going to want to do a ton of scapular wall holds to strengthen your mid and lower traps! When doing the push up, focus on engaging the muscles between your shoulder blades.
- Elbows flare out – Many people are taught to do a push up like a T, but that puts a ton of strain on the rotator cuff. Make sure to roll out and stretch your chest. Also, having your elbows in closer will require you to strengthen your triceps since having your elbows in closer engages your triceps more. Also to help you remember to do this, start the push up with your hands right outside your chest. As your hands get wider, it becomes easier to revert back to the T form.
- Hands turn in – Make sure to keep the finger tips pointing straight ahead. Pretend your hands are both on a piece of paper. Try pressing down and apart as if you are trying to rip the piece of paper in half. This will help you keep your hands straight and will help you engage your lats and keep your body tight overall.
- Low back sags and hips go toward the ground - Start by rolling out and stretching your low back and your hips. You will then also want to strengthen your core and your glutes. When I say “strengthen your core,” I don’t mean do a trillion crunches. You want to work on “bracing” your core – you want to work on contracting your abs and drawing your belly button in toward you spine. You can practice this by laying on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the ground. Draw your belly button in toward your spine and press your low back into the ground. Hold that position. That is how you want to brace your core during a push up. When doing a push up, to keep your hips from sagging, squeeze your glutes and draw in your belly button!
- Butt goes way up in the air - If this happens you are also going to need to work on core strength. Planks are a great way to build up the core stabilization needed for a push up…Because let’s face it…A push up is basically a moving plank. Also, use the drawing in maneuver I went over above to teach yourself to engage your core! Also, if you squeeze your glutes during the push up, it is going to be extremely difficult to have your butt up in the air!
Once you begin to address those issues, you can start to work on building up toward that perfect push up.
Today, I don’t want to get into all the supplemental moves you can do to strengthen your chest, shoulders, triceps and core, but I do want to discuss how you can regress the push up so that you can do it no matter what level you are starting from.
The first push up regress is NOT from your knees.
The wall push up is the first step. Step about a foot or two away from the wall and place your arms out toward the wall right outside your chest. Your finger tips should point straight up toward the ceiling. As you lower your body toward the wall, your hands should be outside your chest. Go as close to the wall as you can (do not smack your face into the wall). Make sure you keep your elbows in super close to your body. This is a great time to really work the triceps and keep your arms against your body. Your wrists, elbows and shoulders should all be in one straight line. Your body should remain in a straight line with your core and glutes engaged. Don’t worry about keeping your heels on the ground.
If you can perform 3 rounds of 20 wall push ups with perfect form easily, it is time to use a lower incline. Squat racks (if no one is using them because people definitely don’t like you doing anything put squatting in them) and Smith machines are great places to help you work on your push ups. I hate Smith machines so this is about the only time I would use one.
Smith machine push ups allow you to control the incline. As you progress, you can lower the bar until you are basically parallel to the ground. You want to keep the same form as the wall push up.
Since we don’t have a Smith machine at the gym (and since we just moved and our jungle gym for squats isn’t set up) I demonstrated these from a bench…which is also another tool you can use if the incline is appropriate.
And if you only have a bench, but the incline is just a bit too low, you can do push ups off the bench two different ways. You can do them from your toes or from your knees.
Doing push ups from your knees can allow you to decrease the incline as you progress down toward the ground.
Once you’ve mastered the incline push up and have gotten down to at least the height of a bench (from your toes), you can start to try push ups from your knees on the ground.
If you aren’t completing full reps and your form is breaking down, don’t keep progressing!
You’ve got to EARN the next level!
Then once you can perform perfect push ups from your knees, start to add in one or two push ups from your toes until you can do 5, 10, 15….100 from your toes!
Doing even one perfect push up doesn’t happen overnight. Take your time! Quality is important if you want to get the most out of each and every push up!
Once you’ve mastered the perfect push up, it is then time to start playing around with decline push ups (feet up on bench or such) and other fun variations…Like my favorite the push up to dip!
But remember…YOU’VE GOT TO EARN THE PROGRESSIONS!
Do you love push ups?
I can do better.
So Ryan and I weren’t a finalist in the Primal Blueprint workout video contest, but we did have a whole heck of a lot of fun making the video.
Maybe it will inspire you this weekend to workout!
If it doesn’t below is a great bodyweight workout that I did in my training session today (which the Man Bicep Mom attended!)
10-1 (10 reps of everything for one round, then 9, then 8…down to one. On one-sided exercises, that means 10 to each side)
1 arm TRX rows
Push ups (chest to ground)
Rainbow slams with a medicine ball
10-1 (10 reps of everything for one round, then 9, then 8…down to one. On one-sided exercises, that means 10 to each side…so like 10 Mountain Climbers each leg)
Backwards lunges on sliders
Scapular hold against a wall or floor for 30 seconds
Mountain Climbers on sliders
Side lunges on sliders
Complete the entire workout as quickly as possible. Really a good workout for a stabilization day!
So I haven’t had any time to post today. Very very long day at work and now I’m just brain dead.
But I did do a few one arm pull ups. Candy even got one on video!
Now do one and send me your video!!!
The other day a client asked me about my workout routine and I got super excited to explain the new phase of my program.
My enthusiasm made her say, “You’re kind of a fitness nerd…aren’t you?”
You know those really annoying people who could talk about something every second of every day?
And I like to think that my enthusiasm is infectious. Actually, I know it is because enthusiasm in general is infectious.
Today, I was working with a new client who wanted to start lifting heavy. (YAY!) My excitement to work with her and her excitement to lift just made the entire meeting fly by.
But the most important part is that my love of lifting was passed on to her. She enjoyed the session so much that I know, that not only will she continue to lift heavy, but that she will also tell her friends that they should too!
Enthusiasm for women lifting heavy is infectious. I’m just doing everything I can to spread the love.
On that note, if you like the Man Bicep Facebook page AND like the comment/video that says “For every like, I’ll do a push up” Candy or I will actually do a push up! Check out the 7 push ups we’ve done already!
So I got some great emails AND pictures this week.
One was from Lisa:
Hey Cori, so fun story…. I won my cornhole championship tonight and everyone was commenting on my biceps as I one-handedly drank the trophy of beer! (The trophy is heavy.) It spurred the thought to push-up drink from the trophy in the middle of the bar… The waitresses hated me…everyone else was amused. Someone asked about the story behind the ruckus… I said ” It’s for Man Bicep, a movement about breaking the taboos about women lifting weights, which I love to do.” Then I said… “Drinking beer is so much better in full decline push up position….just because I can.”.
Two more great bicep pictures were submitted by Ada and Toni this past week.
Also, a BIG Happy Belated Birthday to Man Biceper Kristen who just recently started lifting weights.
Kristen stated recently, “I have really been enjoying what I’ve been doing thus far and feel great! Tomorrow is my birthday and I feel better than I have in quite a few birthdays!”
Motivated now to workout? Try this workout of the week!!!
So Candy found this video of Ellen and Michelle Obama doing push ups. I was very amused even though I did want to tell them both that they needed to get lower! Chest to the ground ladies!
That’s right…Man Bicepers even do push ups on mountain tops in snow.
Thank you Judy for these wonderful push up pictures! You and Libby are awesome!
So the day after Thanksgiving, it is always nice to get in a bit of a workout. We took a nice long walk through the neighborhoods near us before heading to the playground to do some push ups and pull ups.
Ryan managed to show me up with 15 straight pull ups while yesterday I could only do 11 (and these are dead hang pull ups with no swing mind you). Drew managed to bust out 2 in the end (yay for rock climbing!).
The Man Bicep Mom was a bit too short to reach the bar…so I picked her up. She was so distracted by the fact that I just picked her up that she laughed instead of doing a pull up.
After the pull ups, we did some fun push ups around the park! Here are some pictures of them!