It's not easy to do a perfect push-up. If you compromise your form, you can strain the upper-body muscles you set out to strengthen. Instead of struggling to get this exercise right, try these moves designed by Chelsea Dornan, National Academy of Sports Medicine-certified personal trainer and instructor at Uplift Studios in New York City, to work your arms even better than push-ups. Complete each of the following exercises in the order listed for 45 to 60 seconds. Do up to three sets to really feel the burn.
1. Bear Crawls: Begin in plank position with your shoulders stacked over your wrists. Keeping your hips low, move forward by simultaneously reaching forward with your left hand as you step forward with your right foot, and reaching with your right hand as you step forward with your left. Crawl across the room, then reverse and crawl backwards.
2. Tricep Dips: Sit on the floor with the soles of your feet on the floor and the palms of your hands on the ground behind you, fingertips facing your body. Draw your shoulder blades down as you lift your hips into tabletop position. Keeping your abs tight, bend your elbows. Pause, then press into your palms as you return to starting positions. Prop your legs up on a chair or bench to make things even more difficult.
3. Down Dog Push-Ups: Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart, and walk your hands out in front of you a few feet, keeping your hips high. Then, bend your elbows out to the sides as you slowly lower the crown of your head toward the floor. Pause, then press into your palms as you return to starting position to complete the rep.
4. Punches: Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your knees slightly bent. Bring fists up to chin level. Brace your core as you punch straight forward with your right arm, twisting from the waist and rotating your shoulder forward for extra power. Immediately bring your fist back to starting position as you punch straight forward with your left fist. Continue alternating sides, or hold a one- to three-pound weight in each hand to increase intensity.
5. Arm Circles: Stand with your left knee at hip level and bent at a 90-degree angle, with your arms outstretched to your sides. Slowly and with control, circle your arms forward for 45 to 60 seconds. Then reverse for 45 to 60 seconds. Switch legs and repeat.
6. Arm Extension to Shoulder Tap: Start in a plank position with your wrists under your shoulders. Your body should form a straight line between the top of your head and your toes. Engage your abs and glutes as you extend your right arm straight out and hold it for one second. Then, use the right hand to tap your left shoulder. Repeat with your left arm and continue to alternate sides.
Photo Credit: Luke Versalko