A Quick-Start Guide to Push up Alternatives

Woman doing wall push up alternative

Push-ups are one of the oldest types of exercise used to help tone up various parts of the body. No special equipment is needed, and you can do them anywhere you have space. While many people can do a few push-ups without any issues, there is still a certain percentage who find them difficult. There are also those who may have physical limitations that make completing a traditional push-up impossible. The great thing about equipment-free workouts is that you can almost always alter an exercise to meet your specific needs, and this is true for push-ups as well. If you are looking for great push up alternatives, we can help.

What is the Point of Doing a Push-Up?

A push-up is a very simple calisthenic exercise that uses body weight to achieve results. A person typically starts in a plank position with their arms straight and then lowers themselves to the floor, holds, and then pushes themselves back up. The goal of a traditional push-up is to work muscles in the upper body and strengthen the core. This included the arms, shoulders, back, chest, abs, and glutes. When the plank form is properly held, it also works the calves, hamstrings, and quadriceps.

Woman doing a proper push up - push up alternatives

Do Push-Up Alternatives Exist?

Thankfully, there are many alternatives to the traditional push-up that works the same groups of muscles. This is a great way to work your body out in a new way as well as train new muscles in the proper way to activate them. There are dozens of push-up alternatives available that will fit just about any fitness level and workout style. There are even options for those who suffer from injuries or arm weakness that are just as effective as a regular push-up and will give you toned arms in that little black dress.

How Push-Up Alternatives Work

Push-up alternatives are effective because they use a slightly different method to work the same groups of muscles. By taking the pressure off of certain points in the body, it makes it possible for those with limitations or injuries to still strengthen their core, tone their arms, and improve their upper body strength. Modified or alternative push-ups come in a variety of forms. We will detail some of the most popular options in the next section.

Tired of Push-Ups? Try These Alternatives Instead!

Woman doing rotating punches with hand weights

Rotating punches – Not all push-up alternatives are required to lay in a prone position. For those who may be expecting or have trouble assuming the downward position, this standing option is very effective. Rotating punches work the lower and upper body while also improving core strength. They work many of the same muscles as a push-up target, except protecting the muscles in the lower back. To amp up this alternative, you can even add some light hand weights to increase the burn in your underarm area. Stand in a straight formation with your leading foot out a few feet in front of the other. Once you have assumed a staggering stance, pull your hands up to just under your chin with your elbows pointing towards the ground. Tighten your abs muscles to activate them and then punch one arm forward while maintaining your form.  Return to the starting position and repeat with the other arm. Make sure to keep your shoulders from going up around your ears for the best results.

Woman doing a dumbbell press on a ball - push up alternatives

Dumbbell chest presses – If you have an exercise ball and some simple weights, you can easily perform this push-up alternative. This helps to build strength in your chest, shoulders, and core. It also helps improve core stability and supports the development of lower back muscles without the pressure that comes from heavy body weight. You will also need to use the muscles in your thighs and your glutes, in order to keep the ball stable, which further helps muscle tone. To perform this exercise, lay on your back on the ball and then plant your feet to maintain stability. Taking a weight in hand, bend the arms and bring them to the side of your shoulders. Push your arms straight up in a controlled motion and then return to the starting position. Complete 20-30 reps, rest, and repeat.

High planks – For people who are looking to improve the muscle strength and tone in their shoulders and upper back, high planks are a great choice. In addition to working many of the same areas as a traditional push-up, high planks also help improve your overall posture and strengthen the wrist. With regular sets, you can improve your general alignment, stability, and balance. To perform a high plank, you need to assume the tabletop position. Then, stretch your core, legs, and upper body. Then, pull your shoulders down and back as you broaden your chest. Hold this position for at least a minute, release, and repeat for 5 sets.

Woman doing a Climbers in a gym

Climbers – This move is not only a great push-up alternative, but it is also an excellent HIIT exercise. It will help you burn calories and boost your heart rate at the same time. You will need to be in a straight arm plank setting with your hips lined up with your back. Then, curl your belly in while breathing steadily. Simulate climbing by alternating your legs back and forth at a steady, but quick, measured pace.

Final Thoughts

If you can complete a traditional push-up, it is great. However, every human body has unique needs. If you lack the right amount of core or upper body strength, an alternative may be more suitable. If you are recovering from an injury or just starting out your fitness journey, alternatives to the traditional push-up may also suit your lifestyle better. Even if you are perfectly able to do a regular push-up, but want to change up your current exercise routine, using one of the alternatives above is a great way to target the same muscles without following the traditional forms.

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