Scaling the push-up
The bench press might be the most popular gym exercise for building picture-perfect pecs, but it’s probably not the best exercise for military personnel. For starters, how many have you needed to lie on your back and press a heavy weight up to arms’ length? Unless you are a human APC jack, the answer to that question is probably zero.
Push-ups are much more functional than the bench press. In push-ups, your body is the bench. They don’t just involve your chest, arms, and shoulders, they also work your core and even your legs too.
Get even more from this cornerstone exercise by scaling it according to your workout and current level of fitness.
Making push-ups easier – knee push-ups and wall push-ups
If you are new to push-ups, are coming back from injury, or want to work on your endurance by doing very high-rep sets, you may need to make push-up easier. To do this, simply bend your legs, drop to your knees, and take a whole lot of weight off your hands. Alternatively, place your hands against a wall.
Don’t dismiss these options as being too easy to be beneficial. They are great stepping stones onto regular and more advanced push-up variations. You can also use them as finishers after a hard push-up workout in the same way you use drop sets in the gym.
Raise your feet – decline push-ups
The more weight you have on your hands, the harder push-ups become. Raising your feet is the easiest way to do this.
Adjusting your feet also allows you to target specific parts of your chest. Because of the angle of your body, regular push-ups are a decline chest exercise. Raising your feet, so your body is horizontal makes, them a middle chest exercise. Elevating your feet higher than your shoulders makes them more of an upper chest exercise and also places a lot more weight on your hands.
Get some air – plyo push-ups
Explosive push-ups increase your pushing power. Power is strength expressed at speed and critical for things like shoving, punching, and throwing. With plyo push-ups, lower your chest to the floor and then explode upwards so that your hands leave the floor. Land on slightly bent elbows and drop into another rep. Stop your set when you can no longer generate maximum power. Do this exercise with caution if you have a history of hand or wrist pain.
Better than the bench press – weighted push-ups
The bench press is an excellent way to build strength, but it's not your only option. Weighted push-ups can be every bit as effective. As an added benefit, you don’t need a bench, a bar, weights, or even a spotter. Strap on a rucksack, your body armor, or a weighted vest and start repping. Keep your core tight and don't drop your hips to keep stress off your back.
No weight? No problem – partner resisted push-ups
Build strength without weights with partner-resisted push-ups. Adopt your normal push-up position and have your buddy stand over you, hands resting on your shoulder blades. Ask them to push down to increase the amount of resistance you have to overcome.
Make like a gymnast – ring push-ups
Ring and suspension trainer push-ups add a whole new dimension to an already great exercise. You'll have to work extra hard to stabilize your shoulders, and that will make each rep much more demanding. Raise your feet for a ninja-worthy push-up challenge that is only suitable for experts.