3 Steps 9 Exercises For Mastering A Push-Up That Will Tone Your Abs And Arms

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Getting more out of your push-ups is as simple as 1-2-3. By taking a 3-step approach you will safely work your way up to performing the challenging move, which will tax your muscles and increase your strength.

Step 1 warms up your muscles; Step 2 features compound movement patterns that work your abs and arms, Step 3 works your muscles most intensely. Together these steps will chisel killer abs and arms.

Stick to the first series until you can perform 3 sets with a 1-minute rest in-between. Then, add on the second series—try performing a Series 1, then a Series 2, and then resting for 1 minute and repeating. After you become comfortable with that, add the third.

Depending on your current strength, it may take several months before you’re prepared to work through all 3 series—but don’t be discouraged. No matter what level you’re working at, when you perform these moves every other day (about 3 to 4 times per week) you’re sure to see your body and strength transform.

Series 1

Step 1: Wall Push-ups:

How to:

  • Angle your body at a slope where your feet grip the floor and hands touch partway down a wall.
  • Place hands wider than shoulders, slightly below shoulder height.
  • Inhale and bend your elbows and lean in as one unit to touch chest to or near wall.
  • Exhale and extend elbows and reach chest back out to starting position.
  • Perform this move for 1 minute.

Step 2: Incline Push-ups:

How to:

  • Place hands wider than shoulder-width apart on elevated platform, like a stool, bench, or ottoman (or a Lebert Equalizer, as shown here).
  • Grip floor beneath you to hold body in a high incline plank.
  • Inhale and slowly lower chest to bench, descending body as one unit.
  • Exhale as you push yourself back up to starting position.
  • Perform this move for 40 seconds.

Step 3: Floor Push-ups:

How to:

  • Push-ups on your toes will always challenge your abs significantly more than push-ups on your knees.
  • If you can’t complete the full 20 seconds on your toes, hold high plank for the remaining time.
  • Place hands wider than shoulder-width apart on mat on floor.
  • Curl toes to grip mat behind you and lift to high plank.
  • Inhale and lower body as one unit to touch nose to floor.
  • Exhale and push yourself up as one steady, unwavering unit to starting position.
  • Perform this move for 20 seconds.

Series 2

Step 1: Inchworm Push-ups:

How to:

  • Stand up straight and tall.
  • Engage abs to tighten core, then lean forward at hips and slide hands down thighs until fingertips touch floor.
  • Walk hands out in front, one at a time, until reaching high plank position.
  • As you do this, engage abs and minimise shift in hips.
  • Spread hands slightly wider than shoulders and perform 1 push-up.
  • Walk hands back in toward toes, minimising shift in hips along the way, then slide hands back up thighs and raise torso to upright standing position.
  • Perform this move for 1 minute.

Step 2: Running Man Push-ups:

How to:

  • Assume high plank position.
  • Perform 1 push-up.
  • At the top of push-up, reach right arm and left leg into centre and touch right hand to left shoe.
  • Resume high plank.
  • Perform another push-up, then reach left arm and right leg into centre and touch left hand to right shoe.
  • Perform this move for 40 seconds.

Step 3: Pike Push-up to Twist:

How to:

  • Hoist hips high in air to position body in Downward-Facing Dog.
  • Spread hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
  • Inhale, bend at elbows and drive crown of head directly between two hands on floor.
  • Keep hips raised high to sky.
  • Exhale and firmly press into floor and extend elbows, raising body back to starting position.
  • After performing pike push-up, weave 1 hand through to touch opposite foot on floor.
  • Return to starting position.
  • Perform another pike push-up, then touch other hand to opposite foot on floor.
  • Perform this move for 20 seconds.

Series 3

Step 1: Push-ups with Mountain Climbers:

How to:

  • Assume high plank position.
  • Place your feet on a set of fitness discs or paper plates (or towels).
  • Perform 1 push-up.
  • At top of push-up, drive right knee in toward belly, then return right foot to floor and drive left knee in toward belly.
  • Return to starting position.
  • Perform this move for 1 minute.

Step 2: Push-ups with Tucks:

How to:

  • Place feet on a set of fitness discs or paper plates.
  • Perform 1 push-up. At top of push-up, slide both feet in, tucking both knees in toward belly.
  • Slide feet back out to resume starting position.
  • Perform this move for 40 seconds.

Step 3: Push-ups with Pikes:

How to:

  • Place feet on a set of fitness discs or paper plates.
  • Assume high plank position.
  • Perform 1 push-up.
  • At top of push-up, keep legs straight but hoist hips towards sky, sliding feet in closer to hands.
  • Slowly slide feet back out with straight legs and resume starting position.
  • Perform this move for 20 seconds.

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