Push-ups are a favorite exercise both inside and outside of the gym. This movement, which requires no equipment and only your body weight, is a key marker in physical fitness tests and upper body strength development. While push-ups train both your strength and endurance, it's their versatility as a compound exercise, or multi-joint exercise, that makes them so valuable in a fitness routine.
By simply moving around your hand position, such as in a wide push-up or a close grip push-up, you can achieve a taxing upper body workout that challenges both their strength and their endurance.
How to Perform a Wide Push-Up
Perform a wide push-up in a way similar to that of a regular push-up:
Place your hands wider than shoulder-distance apart (about one and a half times as wide); keep your fingers pointing forward.
Extend your legs fully behind you and tuck the balls of your feet into the floor.
Tighten your core, keep your back flat and your buttocks squeezed.
Slowly lower down until your chest touches the floor, keep your elbows straight above your wrists.
As soon as your chest touches the floor, push away from the ground and return to the starting position with your elbows fully extended.
How to Perform a Narrow Push-Up
A narrow push-up looks like a regular push-up too, except that your hands are placed closer than shoulder-width apart. Other tips help you execute this move:
To make this an intense triceps exercise, place your hands together in a diamond position with your pointer fingers touching and your thumbs touching underneath your chest.
Place your feet behind you with your legs fully extended. Your feet can be wider than normal since your balance will be effected by the narrow stance of your hands.
Tighten your core, keep your back flat, and your butt squeezed as you slowly lower down until your chest touches your hands.
As soon as your chest touches your hands, push away from the ground and return to the starting position with your elbows fully extended.
The wide push-up recruits more of your pectoral muscles while a regular push-up shares the burden with your triceps muscles. According to a small study of eight people published in The Journal of Strength & Conditioning, when subjects dropped to their knees to modify the wide push-up, also known as the abduction push-up, they saw a drop in overall muscle activation in the upper body. However, when the same scientists studied the narrow push-up, or adduction push-up, they saw an increase in upper body muscle activation, even though the subjects were modifying on their knees. Thus, they concluded that the narrow push-up is more challenging than the wide push-up.
- Comparison of Muscle Activation Using Various Hand Positions During the Push-Up Exercise: Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research
- Dynamic and Electromyographical Analysis in Variants of Push-Up Exercise: Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research
- An Analysis of the Muscle Activation ov a Push-Up When Instability is Introduced: Indiana University of Pennsylvania