Pushups have been called the perfect exercise, and for good reason. The bodyweight move hits your upper body, back, and even glutes.
It whittles your waist as it works your core. Not to mention endurance—do enough of them and, friends, you will break quite a sweat.
If you’re a pushup aficionado and want to give yourself a challenge, here’s one way to step things up: Perform this move on a set of boxes. It will give you room on the down portion, which translates to more efficient strength-building.
“The extra space below increases the difficulty of the exercise but also increases the benefits,” says New York City–based trainer Mohamed Elzomor. “Not only are you working more of the muscle, but because of the longer range of motion, you are keeping your chest under tension for a longer period of time—both of which help you build more muscle, faster.”
Try this move only if you have perfect pushup form. If you don’t, you could be setting yourself up for injury because the move is so intense on your muscles and joints. And another thing—make sure to warm up thoroughly. “Even if your muscles have the flexibility to go down that far, you have to prepare your tissues and tendons for that kind of load,” Elzomor says.
There’s another way to keep this move safe: Unlike with regular pushups, you should stay a few reps shy of complete muscle fatigue. That will also avoid an indecorous fall to the ground.
Stay in line
Position two short boxes (about 6 inches tall) wider than shoulder-width apart. Throughout the move, maintain a straight line from heels to head. As you come down, think about squeezing your shoulder blades together, then pressing them outward to return to start.
How long can you go?
You don’t need to drop down too far—only about an inch below your hands. Going farther may strain your shoulder joints. To make it more challenging, elevate your feet on a box, too.