Push-ups are a great way to strengthen your upper body, specifically your chest and shoulders. If you mix-up how you do the push-up, it’s easier to engage all your muscles so it’s a total body workout.
Benefits of push-ups
You always want to challenge your body in new ways, and you can do just that with every exercise even the push-up. Whether you’re pushing up on your knees or from a TRX plank position, there are ways to progress the push-up so you constantly challenge your body.
According to GQ magazine, the push-up is the only exercise you need to get a square chest of the likes of Rob Gronkowski. Maybe more desirable for men, but the push-up is a total body workout with lots of benefits for women too including that pesky core. When performing a perfect push-up, you’re working your shoulders, chest, legs, core, and lower back.
Whether you like push-ups or not, it’s an important fitness exercise. Trying new versions of the push-up actually challenges your body better.
A recent push-up study by researchers in Spain found all instability devices offered a better activation of all your muscles than doing just a plain bodyweight push-up on the floor. So, ditch the floor push-ups and try one with the TRX. You’ll get a total body workout.
In addition, TRX push-ups offer maximum muscle activation for the lower back and leg muscles compared with a wobble board, regular push-ups on the floor, a stability disk, and fitness dome.
Haven’t used the TRX? Start here to learn the basics of mastering resistance and suspension training.
4 ways to progress the push-up with the TRX
The TRX offers lots of modifications so you can work toward a move. Progress toward an atomic push-up, which is a great cardio, power, and strength exercise in one. There are 4 ways you can modify your TRX workout, to work toward that perfect push-up.
1. Knees on the ground
First, put your toes in the TRX. Just like you’d put your knees on the ground if you did a push-up with just your bodyweight, do the same with your toes still in the TRX.
Lower into your push-up and then drive your heels back into plank.
Hold it for two seconds.
Lower your knees, push-up, and drive your heels back into plank.
2. TRX plank to push-up
Once you master the first move, start in the plank position. So, one foot is in each of the foot cradles. Do your push-up. If you need to, you can come down to your knees after 2 or 3 push-ups to rest.
Then, reset in your plank and do another push-up.
3. Atomic push-up
Now you’re ready for an atomic push-up. This turns a basic push-up into a cardio movement.
Tuck the knees and then drive back into plank.
4. Add a TRX pike to your push-up
Finally, add a pike so you’re working your core, your arm muscles, and getting a cardio blast all at the same time. So, the sequence is a plank, push-up, knee tuck, pike.
There are lots of ways to progress the push-up, so it’s manageable or very challenging depending on your fitness level. This is one of the great things about the TRX. You can progress all exercises from beginner to advanced moves.
Suspension training works your muscles in new ways, improves flexibility, mobility, and tightens your core. Want 3 TRX workouts every week? Join STRONG By Emily, my online personal training program!
If you don’t have a TRX and prefer bodyweight exercises only with no equipment, these are some tips to do the perfect push-up on the ground.
While it’s a simple exercise, you’re likely doing it incorrectly. As a Certified Personal Trainer, I see the push-up done wrong all the time.
First, place your fingertips so they’re facing outside. The goal is to think of your hands as if they’re turning a screw or a lid off a jar. Focusing on a corkscrew motion with your hands helps you turn on all your muscles from your lats to your glutes to your core. It ensures the push-up is a full-body workout as intended rather than just an arm workout.
Then, put your arms at a 45-degree angle rather than pushing them out. It puts your shoulder in a safer position and you’re forced to have a stronger core.
Finally, don’t hold your breath. You get more power out of the push-up when you do a forceful exhale. Nobody is listening to you. blow it out. Use your breath to create more strength and power.
These slight changes will lead to a stronger push-up and less risk of injury.
If you like bodyweight exercises better than the TRX, try these bodyweight workouts.