Increase Core Activity With These Push-up Variations

by James Camastra ...

Push-ups are a great functional exercise for increasing strength in the chest, shoulders and triceps. Here are three variations of this common exercise that will help strengthen your core.

All three versions can be done with hands on the long edge of a workout bench or using a bar on an adjustable rack. The closer your hands are to the floor the more difficult.

One Leg: do push-ups with one foot lifted a few inches off the floor, switch legs every few reps. Besides activating your core muscles, this variation will also activate the quad and hip flexors of the support leg and is great for strengthening terminal knee extension (you know what I mean if you’ve had knee surgery).

Physioball: place your hands on the long edge of a bench or an elevated bar on an adjustable rack. The physioball can be placed under your toes (advanced) or knees (easier), either way the physioball is unstable and will activate your core more. The smaller the ball and the further from the floor your hands are, the easier.

Alternating Side Plank Push-Ups: in a standard push-up or a modified (on knees) push-up position, do one push-up then move all your weight to one hand, turning your body to 90 degrees (side plank position), return to starting position, do a push-up, turn to the other side and repeat. When using the standard position, your feet in the side plank position should be in one of two positions: split (easier), stacked (more difficult). Split, the sides of both feet are touching the floor. Stacked, the side of one foot is touching the floor with the other foot stacked on top (like in the video). The outside of your entire lower leg and foot will touch the floor in the modified position (keep knees at 90 degrees). This version will strengthen the obliques and improve shoulder stabilization.

So, the next time you decide to do pushups, make sure to mix in these variations to increase core activity and overall exercise efficiency.