Strength Training Tips:  Push-Ups are for YOU!

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Neiman Marcus Last Call (Neiman Marcus)

You can do it anytime, anywhere – no equipment required!   The push-up is a classic strengthening exercise that works multiple muscle groups of the upper body in an integrated way, the same way your body moves in daily life. No matter what your starting level of fitness, there is a version that will work for you.

Using your body weight as resistance, the push-up is an efficient and effective way to strengthen the chest, shoulders and triceps.  It is weight-bearing through the wrist and forearm, reinforcing bone in one of the most common osteoporosis fracture sites. The abdominals and back muscles are active in stabilizing the torso.  The level of difficulty is determined by how much weight you shift onto your upper body.

Trainer Tips for all Variations of the Push-Up:

  • Position your hands 3-4 inches wider than shoulder-width apart
  • Anchor your shoulder blades by drawing them down and together before you move
  • Keep your head and neck aligned with your spine
  • Pull your abdominals tight to prevent the low back from sagging
  • Inhale as you lower your chest, bending your elbows out to the sides to 90 degrees (think of forming a box)
  • Exhale as you push up, extending your arms fully until they are straight but not stiff
  • Begin with one set of 10-15 reps; build up to 2 sets

Wall Push-Up Find an unobstructed wall in your home to be your push-up station and every time you pass that wall, do a few reps.  It is the least demanding version of the push-up because you are lifting the least body weight.

  • Stand a full arms-length away from the wall, wrists at shoulder level
  • Inhale and bend your elbows out to the sides as you lower your chest toward the wall.
  • Exhale and push back to the start position

Diagonal Push-Up:  (See Video below) The kitchen counter is the perfect spot for this variation, which is harder because you shift more body weight onto your upper body as you lower into a diagonal position.  Be sure to use a fixed support, like a counter or a ballet barre.

  • Stand arms-length away from the support
  • Position your hands and lean forward with your spine straight, shifting your weight onto your arms
  • Inhale as you bend your arms and lower your chest to the counter, allowing your heels to roll off the floor
  • Exhale and push up

Half Push-Up:   This modification is more difficult than the previous standing variations but easier than a full push up.  Be sure to pull your abdominals tight to support the spine.  If you have problems with your wrists, stick with the Wall Push-Up, since this will cause less stress to them.

  • Kneel on a mat, positioning your arms slightly forward of your shoulders
  • Drop your hips and shift your weight forward onto your arms so there is no direct pressure on your knee caps
  • Cross your ankles and raise your lower legs
  • Inhale as you bend your elbows to lower your chest toward the floor; exhale and push up

Full Push-Up:  This is the hardest push up to master in good form.  It is important to stabilize the shoulder blades and torso.  You need adequate core strength to prevent the low back from sagging.  Good form is key to getting the most out of the exercise and preventing injury.

  • Kneel on all fours, with your arms slightly forward of your shoulders
  • Step your feet back until you are on your toes, knees straight, feet apart (wider stance is easiest)
  • Inhale as you bend your elbows to lower your chest to the floor, keeping your nose down, head aligned with spine
  • Exhale and push up

Strength training is an important part of your fitness program, and push ups are an easy way to incorporate strengthening exercise into your routine.

For expert guidance in strength training techniques, please visit

Neiman Marcus Last Call (Neiman Marcus)

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