Push ups are an amazing exercise. It uses a lot of different muscles to complete this one movement. Sure people tend to think about working the chest when doing pushups but you are working your back, your abs, your arms, this exercise really is a good exercise to get great gains with little time and no equipment
If you have never done a pushup then this will be the right start for you. We will go over some different beginner variations. We are not going to be going over advanced moves, because that is a few pages of information in itself. This is the beginners guide.
Let's start by looking at a regular basic push up.
You start in a plank position. Your hands under your shoulders but slightly wider. You want your hands facing forward, think of your middle finger pointing straight ahead. When your hands are in a lower position like this verses up towards your head it can be less strain on your shoulders and will activate more muscles. When you go down you want to keep your arms in closer to your body verses letting them fly away.
You can do these on your closed fists with your knuckles pointing out as well. Doing pushups on your fists instead of open palm can be good for a couple different reasons. Fist off this can be very helpful if you have weak wrists because it will put your wrists into a more stable position. Secondly, it can make it easier to keep your arms in close to your body verses them flying away like flapping wings.
Keep your body firm. You should not have any movement in your midsection when you do this exercise, you do not want the midsection or the knees drooping. Keep your legs and glutes tight. This will help you keep your body strong and straight throughout the push up. The only thing that should be moving is your arms. Your feet are your pivot point. This image illustrates the wrong way.
Whenever you are doing any sort of push up you want to avoid pushing your head forward. Keep your head in a neutral position. Think of bringing your chest to the ground, not your face. Lower down as far as you can go without touching the ground and then press through the outer palms of your hands back to the begging phase. At the top of the motion make sure not to hyper extend your elbows, or over arch your shoulders. This image is really exagerated, but you get the point.
The alternate pushups below are arranged from the easiest to the hardest. No matter what level you are at and which push up you start with make sure you can do at least 10 push ups with good form before you move to the next versions on the list.
Wall Push Up
These will be the same principle except you are using the wall to create an inclined pushup. This is generally one of the easiest forms of pushups to do. Your body position as well as pivot points all stay the same as a regular push up.
These are just like the wall push up except you will find something that is lower to the ground to use. This is a little bit harder than the wall pushup so this would be the next phase after you get good with the wall pushups.
The same principles apply to this as well. But in this one your knees are your pivot point. You still want to keep a very solid firm body posture.
The Lower Down
In this exercise you are doing the lowering part of a push up. Start in the plank position as you would with a proper push up. And then slowly and with control lower all the way down to the ground. Then set it back up and do it again. The can sometimes help people get a portion of the pushup maneuver without needing to push back up. It is a good way to progress into full pushups.
These versions will be a good way to get you on the way to a full push up. Don't worry about needing to do a full push up yet, it will come. I have seen women who could not do one push up work up in a matter of months to doing sets of full pushups. It takes some people longer than others to get to full pushups but it is totally achievable. Just keep working on it!