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The 7 Best Upper-Body Exercises for People Who Hate Push-Ups

by
author image Nick Tumminello
Nick Tumminello is the 2016 NSCA Personal Trainer of the Year and the owner of Performance University, which provides practical fitness education for fitness professionals worldwide. He is the author of Strength Training for Fat Loss and Building Muscle and Performance (both books published by Human Kinetics) and has produced 15+ DVDs. He writes a very popular blog at www.NickTumminello.com.

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The 7 Best Upper-Body Exercises for People Who Hate Push-Ups
Ken Stachnik/LIVESTRONG.COM

You might think of the push-up as an arm exercise, but this do-it-all move also works your shoulders, back, chest and abs. So if you hate push-ups (or if you’re just sick of them), it’s important to swap out the right exercises to reap similar benefits. These seven upper-body exercises aren’t only great alternatives to push-ups, they’re also a great addition to any workout routine. Mix up your workout routine with these incredibly effective moves.

1. Alternate-Arm Dumbbell Bench Press
Ken Stachnik/LIVESTRONG.COM

1 ALTERNATE-ARM DUMBBELL BENCH PRESS

Strengthen your chest, triceps and the fronts of your shoulders with this bench-press variation. THE SETUP: Lie on a weight bench with your feet flat on the floor, pressing them firmly into the ground for stability. Hold a dumbbell in each hand above your shoulders with your arms straight.

How to Do an Alternate-Arm Dumbbell Bench Press
Ken Stachnik/LIVESTRONG.COM

HOW TO DO AN ALTERNATE-ARM DUMBBELL BENCH PRESS

Slowly lower one of the dumbbells until your elbow goes just below your torso. At the bottom position, keep your elbow at roughly a 45-degree angle to your torso. Press the dumbbell back up directly above your shoulder. Repeat this action with the other arm. Continue to alternate arms by pressing one arm while the other arm remains straight.

2. Band Step and Press
Ken Stachnik/LIVESTRONG.COM

2 BAND STEP AND PRESS

In addition to strengthening the chest, shoulders and triceps, this exercise also trains the abdominal muscles to remain strong and stable. And it improves coordination between your lower body and upper body. THE SETUP: Face away from a heavy-duty resistance band attached at shoulder height to a stable structure or inside a doorjamb. Stand with your knees slightly bent and your feet hip-width apart. Hold a handle in each hand with your upper arms at a 45-degree angle to your sides and your forearms parallel to the floor. Lean your torso slightly forward.

How to Do a Band Step and Press
Ken Stachnik/LIVESTRONG.COM

HOW TO DO A BAND STEP AND PRESS

Step forward with one leg as you press forward with both arms. Maintain your slight forward torso lean. Allow your rear heel to come off the ground. Then reverse the move: Step your lead leg back to the starting position while allowing your arms to come back as well. Alternate legs and explode into each repetition as if you were shoving someone.

3. One-Arm Band or Cable Press
Ken Stachnik/LIVESTRONG.COM

3 ONE-ARM BAND OR CABLE PRESS

In addition to training the chest, shoulders and triceps, this exercise strengthens the hips and abdominal muscles. This move forces your body to be strong and stable to resist the pull of the cable or band. THE SETUP: Face away from an adjustable cable column or heavy-duty resistance band attached at roughly shoulder height. Stand in a split stance with your left leg in front and the handle of the cable or band in your right hand. Lean your torso slightly forward. Keep your upper arm at roughly a 45-degree angle from your body.

How to Do a One-Arm Band or Cable Press
Ken Stachnik/LIVESTRONG.COM

HOW TO DO A ONE-ARM BAND OR CABLE PRESS

Without allowing your torso to rotate, drive your arm straight out in front of you. Slowly bring your arm back to complete one rep. Perform all reps on one side before switching arms and reversing your stance. Keep your back heel off the ground throughout this exercise.

4. One-Arm Incline Band or Cable Press
Ken Stachnik/LIVESTRONG.COM

4 ONE-ARM INCLINE BAND OR CABLE PRESS

This exercise is performed in basically the same manner as the one-arm band or cable press. The only difference is the cable or band is attached lower down, which changes the angle of your press so you work your shoulders and chest in a different way. THE SETUP: Face away from an adjustable cable column or a heavy-duty resistance band attached at a low position (below knee level). Stand in a split stance with your right leg in front and the handle in your left hand. Your torso should be upright.

How to Do a One-Arm Incline Band or Cable Press
Ken Stachnik/LIVESTRONG.COM

HOW TO DO A ONE-ARM INCLINE BAND OR CABLE PRESS

Without allowing your torso to rotate, press your arm out in front of you at a 45-degree angle and in line with the cable or band. Slowly bring your arm back to complete one rep. Perform all reps on one side before reversing your stance and switching arms. Keep your rear foot straight and your back heel off the ground throughout this exercise.

5. Angled Barbell Press
Ken Stachnik/LIVESTRONG.COM

5 ANGLED BARBELL PRESS

The angled barbell press is much easier on the shoulders, so many people who have problems with conventional overhead pressing exercises can perform this one with no discomfort. The exercise strengthens the abdominals, hips, shoulders and triceps. THE SETUP: Stand in a split stance with your left leg in front. Place one end of a barbell in a corner or inside a landmine device. Hold onto the other end of the barbell with your right hand. Your forearm should form a 90-degree angle with the barbell.

How to Do an Angled Barbell Press
Ken Stachnik/LIVESTRONG.COM

HOW TO DO AN ANGLED BARBELL PRESS

Press the barbell up and away from you while keeping your torso upright and stable. Slowly reverse the motion. Make sure to keep your hand in line with the same-side shoulder as you press the barbell up and out.

6. Kettlebell Shoulder-to-Shoulder Overhead Press
Ken Stachnik/LIVESTRONG.COM

6 KETTLEBELL SHOULDER-TO-SHOULDER OVERHEAD PRESS

Holding a weight on one side of the body (as you do during each repetition of this exercise) increases the involvement of the oblique (side) abdominal muscles in order to maintain a strong and stable torso position. THE SETUP: Stand tall with feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Grasp the kettlebell with both hands and hold it above one shoulder.

How to Do a Kettlebell Shoulder-to-Shoulder Overhead Press
Ken Stachnik/LIVESTRONG.COM

HOW TO DO A KETTLEBELL SHOULDER-TO-SHOULDER OVERHEAD PRESS

Press the kettlebell overhead. At the top of the move, the kettlebell should be directly above your head. Slowly lower the kettlebell to your opposite shoulder. That’s one rep. Be sure to maintain your upright torso position throughout.

7. Dumbbell Rotational Shoulder Press
Ken Stachnik/LIVESTRONG.COM

7 DUMBBELL ROTATIONAL SHOULDER PRESS

In addition to strengthening the shoulder, the dumbbell rotational shoulder press works your abdominal and hips muscles. Rotating to press the weight up adds an extra challenge for your core. THE SETUP: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart while holding a dumbbell in front of each shoulder.

How to Do a Dumbbell Rotational Shoulder Press
Ken Stachnik/LIVESTRONG.COM

HOW TO DO A DUMBBELL ROTATIONAL SHOULDER PRESS

Press one dumbbell into the air as you rotate to the opposite side. To better allow your hips to rotate, raise your heel off of the ground as you turn. Reverse the rotational direction and press up the other dumbbell as you lower the first one. Repeat.

What Do YOU Think?
Ken Stachnik/LIVESTRONG.COM

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

What’s your favorite upper-body exercise? Do you love push-ups or hate them? Why? Do you have any questions about these exercises? Let us know your thoughts in the comments. We want to hear from you!

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