Pushups are an excellent exercise for women to define the muscles of their arms, shoulders, chest and back. There are few exercises that provide lean muscle and sexy upper body definition without the need for a gym or equipment, and you can do them everyday if you so choose.
Start with Knee Pushups. Get down on the floor or mat on hands and knees with your hand directly below your shoulders. While on your knees, lower your upper body as a single unit until your nose is close to the floor and then push your upper body up until your arms are straight. Maintain a straight back as you raise and lower your body. This is an excellent approach to learning the proper pushup.
Advance to “normal” Pushups. If you’ve ever attended military training, a combat style boot camp or had any type of Coach with military experience, you know how to do a pushup. Start in the same knee pushup position but extend your legs and keep your feet together and support your weight on hands and toes. Lower your entire body while maintaining a straight line from head to toe, think of your feet and ankles as a hinge. Again, lower yourself until your nose almost touches the floor and then push yourself back up.
Once your pushups become easy and no longer challenge you, add Close Hand or Diamond Pushups. Moving your hands closer together changes the angle and muscles used to complete your pushups, close hand pushups work the inner chest and more of your triceps, the muscles on the backs of your upper arms. Place your thumbs and index fingers together until they form a diamond and your hands in this position directly below your chest. Then push like the normal push up and you will feel the difference in your chest and arms.
Need more of a challenge or another angle? Add Decline Pushups to your training. Find a stable surface like a bench or chair and place your toes on it to elevate your feet higher than your hands, creating added stress on your chest and arms. This angle works more of your upper chest. If you are up to the challenge, alternate a set of decline pushups with diamond push ups.
To add a level of instability (and core) training try one of these Stability Pushups. In your pushup position, put one hand down on the ground and one on top of a medicine ball and perform your push ups. Once you complete a set, switch hands and continue. Once you become proficient, roll the medicine ball left and right and switch hands after each pushup. Another option is to place your feet on the medicine ball or better, an inflatable exercise ball and perform your pushups.
Once you master the basic pushup and these challenging variations, mix them up to create an even more intense and effective workout.