Basic Training: the Pushup

You can’t keep adding plates to your bench press and squat forever. Ultimately, you’ll just max out (although with MF‘s help, that promises to be a long time from now). Not when it comes to pushups, though, which offer nearly endless ways to progress and add strength, endurance, and power to your chest, shoulders, arms, and core. MF adviser Zach Even-Esh, a strength coach in Edison, N.J., gives some tips on perfecting your pushup technique, as well as some variations of the move to help you keep pushin’.

1.) Place your hands shoulder-width apart on the floor, and straighten your legs behind you so that your feet line up. If you haven’t done many pushups, spread your feet wide apart for better support. Otherwise, place them together. Focus your eyes on the floor, but do not allow your head to bend forward—your body must form a straight line from your heels to your head.

2.) Tighten your abs, bend your elbows, and lower your body until your chest is about one inch above the floor. Again, every part of your body must move in unison—do not allow your butt to stick up in the air or your hips to sag as you move downward. Press yourself back up.

PUSHUP 2.0 — Try these advanced variations on the classic exercise:

  • Feet-elevated pushup: Try these when the regular pushup feels too easy—the angle allows you to increase the resistance without adding any weight.
  • Medicine-ball pushup: Place one hand on the ball to train shoulder stability, which leads to stronger bench-pressing.
  • Plyo pushup: Push yourself up so fast that your hands come off the floor, and clap in midair. You can also immediately follow 8 to 10 reps of plyos with a set of regular pushups to failure, which will improve your endurance quickly.
  • Pike pushup: This move preps you for a handstand pushup, perhaps the toughest pushup of all.

Now are you ready to really test yourself? Click here, to take the ultimate pushup challenge.

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