Try this full-body workout with an emphasis on push-ups to get your arms, chest and shoulders ready for summer.
When the sun is out and the weather is warm, the last thing you want to do is cover your arms. But, if you don’t feel good about how they look in summer clothes, it’s nearly impossible to enjoy yourself in anything without sleeves.
This is why you should add push-ups to your workout routine. As a foundational exercise, push-ups are a great way to tone your arms while building the confidence to pull off that new outfit you got for wedding season.
Here’s what you need to know about push-ups, along with a workout to get you ready for any wedding—just be careful your fabulous-looking arms don’t take any attention away from the happy couple!
The push-up is a foundational, full-body exercise—meaning it works a variety of muscles in your body, including your core, chest and quads. Push-ups are an excellent way to help tone our chest muscles, and are also the basis for a variety of other exercises, such as inchworms and planks, making them important to understand and incorporate in your workouts.
More often than not, push-ups are done incorrectly, with sagging in the middle section and incorrect arm placement. Before you do your next push-up, check out what the proper form should look like with these tips in mind:
- Start with a strong straight line from neck to tailbone to feet, with your head and neck held in a neutral line.
- Engage your core and tuck your tailbone to position hips.
- Adjust your arm position for leverage—how you place your hands will impact the technique and benefit of the push-up. It’s important to align your joints in order to give you strength, and improve your shoulder strength and health. For beginners (and the basic push-up), find your hand placement by laying on your stomach and placing your hands up by your shoulders with the tips of your thumbs just touching your shoulders—modify from there.
- Place forearms and upper arms in a clean vertical line with shoulders above the wrists.
- If performing on the floor, place palms flat, fingers pointing forward and align your hands next to your shoulders—if challenging for the wrists angle the fingers out slightly. If using a dumbbell or a prop, maintain a straight line through wrist and forearm up to shoulder for integrity of your joints.
If you’re still new to push-ups, start with modified (knees on the ground) and wall push-ups to build a strength base and help your muscles learn the movement.
What I love most about push-ups is how many variations there are to explore. Once you’ve become comfortable the traditional push-up, you can try decline push-ups, staggered push-ups, one-leg push-ups, one-arm push-ups and one-handed medicine ball push-ups.
From the push-up position, you can add in other movements that continue to challenge your upper body while working a variety of other muscle groups. Once in push-up position, you can do mountain climbers, plank toe taps, plank jacks and spiderman plank.
Now that you know why push-ups are great and how to do it them properly, you can give this workout a try. Add the movements below to your current routine just one day a week to build strength and definition. If you want to boost your calories burned, you can add a hand rotation to certain moves where noted below with the Perfect Pushup or Pushup Elite.
Wedding season sizzler
Do each exercise 10-12 times, repeat workout 3-5 times.
Time: 35-55 minutes
What you’ll need: Any hand-rotation exercises require the Perfect Pushup or Pushup Elite to be completed; dumbbells.
- Wide-arm push-ups: On your knees or in a high plank position, with your hands out wider than shoulders, lower down until your elbows are at 90 degrees, then push back up to your starting position. (For a challenge: Add in a hand rotation.)
- Squat + shoulder raise: Hold a dumbbell in each hand. As you sit down into a squat—weight in your heels, chest lifted, looking straight ahead—sweep your arms and the dumbbells forward out in front of you until they are shoulder-height and parallel to the floor. As you stand, sweep your hands back down to your sides.
- Mountain climbers: Start in a high plank or push-up position. Draw your right knee in toward your elbows touching the ground under your hips with your toe. As you kick it back to starting position, draw your left knee in toward your elbows and touch the ground with your toe. Repeat in explosive movements, keeping your hips low.
- Lateral raises with dumbbells: Start in a standing position, feet under your hips, dumbbells held at your sides. Keeping your arms straight, lift the dumbbells up toward your shoulders like you’re making a T with your arms and body. When the arms are parallel to the ground, and not above the shoulders, return them to start.
- Plank + tricep swing back: In a high plank with hands under your shoulders and resting on dumbbells, pull the right elbow up until it is parallel with your side. Keeping your elbow steady, swing the weight in your hand back toward your hip, so your arm is extended into one long line parallel with your body. Return your arm to the floor by bending your elbow back, and placing your hand and the dumbbell back on the floor under your shoulder. Repeat on opposite side.
- Close-arm push-ups: On your knees or in a high plank position, with your hands under your shoulders, lower down until your elbows are at 90 degrees, arms brushing your ribs, then push back up to your starting position. (For a challenge: Add in a hand rotation.)
- One-arm wall push-ups: Stand an arms-length away from a wall, and place one hand on the wall outside of your shoulder. Lean in toward the wall, keeping your toes on the ground, until your arm is at a 90 degree angle. Push back to return to your starting position.
- Plank: Hold a high plank position, with your wrists under your shoulders and arms extended in a straight line, or a low plank resting on your forearms. (For a challenge: In a high plank, rotate the hands out and in, like you’re turning a nob on and off.)
- Burpee: Squat down and place your hands on the floor in front of you, sending your legs back into a push-up position. Lower down into a push-up (elbows at 90 degrees), then push back up, jump your legs back into a squat, and jump up from the squat position toward the ceiling. (For a challenge: As you lower down for a push-up, rotate your hands, then rotate them back as you push back up.)
- Plank toe taps: In a high plank position, hands under your shoulders, swing your left foot out laterally about a foot out toward your left side and tap the ground. Repeat with right foot.
Photo credit: microgen, Thinkstock