For those whose fitness goals this year include increasing their pushup count, they may have hit a plateau or even been too intimidated to begin. Although challenging, pushups are a staple of bodyweight exercises. They develop muscles through the entire body, especially the arms, chest, and core, all with one simple movement and no equipment. Including these exercises in their workout routine may help to develop the strength needed to succeed.
Beginners who haven’t developed enough core strength to maintain proper positioning through a whole pushup are at risk for injury and may start with an elevated pushup. Begin with hands at shoulder width flat on a wall and feet at hip distance apart and a couple of feet from the wall. As they grow stronger, they can move their hands from a wall down to a countertop or sturdy table, then down to a sofa or chair, and eventually to knee pushups. Knee pushups are performed just like full pushups, except the lower body is supported by the knees, and the ankles are held crossed in the air.
Plank is an excellent exercise to build endurance in the muscle groups recruited by the pushup. Plank is the basic pushup position: the body forms one line from the back of the neck through the heels, supported by the balls of the feet and the hands firmly planted under the shoulders, with fingers spread wide, at the other end. You can practice planking daily for a few minutes at a time up until you can hold the pose for up to a minute.
Oblique twists develop the muscles used to support the torso through a pushup. To complete this move, one sits with the knees bent, and your torso is leaning backward, then turns the torso side to side. This exercise can be done while holding a weight in front of the center of the chest.
Flutter kicks strengthen the core muscles, allowing the body to maintain stability through the full range of the pushup. They are performed when lying flat on the back with the legs straight or with a slight bend in the knee to allow the back to remain flat. The core muscles are engaged throughout alternating kicks.