Pushups. A simple exercise and relatively easy to master, and arguably the best motion for developing upper body strength.
But how can you make pushups harder once you have the basic move mastered? Fear not – we present to you the first of our Difficulty Ladder series, where we explain the easiest and hardest versions of all your favourite basic exercises.
The basic pushup has always been the same. You get down on all fours and place your hands on the floor so they are slightly wider than, but in line with, your shoulders. You keep your arms straight, your glutes squeezed, and your body should form a straight line from your ankles to your head. Keep your feet together and lower your body until your chest nearly touches the floor. Pause at the bottom, then push yourself back up to the starting position. Keep your core stiff and don’t let your hips or head sag throughout.
Here are ten variations of the pushup from the first step on the ladder (the Wall Pushup) to the tenth (Swiss-ball Pushup). Start at the bottom rung and as the weeks go by, move up the ladder when you feel comfortable doing so. Remember not to push yourself to fast too soon – listen to your body and only progress when you find the current step too easy.
Step One – Wall Pushup
Do a pushup standing up with your feet about 1 metre from the wall. Concentrate on form – keep your core stiff and your glutes squeezed throughout. Press into the wall and back again.
Step Two – Modified Pushup
Instead of doing a pushup with your legs straight, bend at your knees and cross your ankles. Again, focus on form and don’t let your hips or head sag.
Step Three – Incline Pushup
Place your hands on a box, step or bench. This reduces the body weight you are having to press, making it harder than a Modified Pushup but easier than a standard pushup.
Step Four – Standard Pushup
The classic pushup. Again, ensure you focus on form. Keep your glutes squeezed throughout. Keep your core stiff. Don’t let your hips or head sag.
Step Five – Stacked-Feet Pushup
Place one foot on top of the other so that the toe of one foot is on the heel of your supporting foot. Swap feet half-way through the set.
Step Six – Decline Pushup
Place your feet on a box, step or bench. This increases the body weight you are having to press.
Step Seven – Feet on a Swiss-Ball Pushup
Place your feet on a Swiss-ball and perform the Standard Pushup movement. Harder than a Decline Pushup thanks to the movement of the Swiss-Ball during the exercise.
Step Eight – Single-leg Decline Pushup
Same as the Decline pushup, but you also hold one leg in the air higher than the leg that is on the box, step or bench. Swap legs half-way through the set.
Step Nine – Bosu Pushup
Using a Bosu Ball, turn it over so that you are putting your hands on the hard side and press until you nearly touch the Bosu Ball.
Step Ten – Swiss-Ball Pushup
Place your hands on a Swiss-Ball instead of the floor. Using a Swiss-Ball works your triceps much harder than a standard pushup.
Now go do some pushups! What step of The Difficulty Ladder are you on? Tell us in the comments below…