The push-up mimics the bench press and trains the chest, shoulders, triceps, serratus anterior, and even the latissimus dorsi (“lats”). If it has been a long time since you did 100-200 push-ups in a workout, your upper body should be sore tomorrow, even if you can bench press twice your bodyweight.
Place your hands on the ground shoulder-width apart (or slightly wider). Keep your feet together and maintain a neutral spinal alignment (with your head, neck, and back straight). Slowly lower yourself to the floor by bending the elbows. Allow your chest to touch the floor and then push up to return to starting position.
Variations: The closer you keep your hands together, the more you will train your triceps. As you spread your hands out, the movement will stress the chest muscles more, but may also result in a greater stress and pain at the wrist joint (if you spread your hands extremely wide).
This push-up places a greater emphasis on the shoulder muscles (deltoids). Place your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and keep your feet flat on the floor. Elevate your hips so that the body forms a V-shape. Lower your upper body until the shoulders are even with the elbows and your upper arms are parallel to the floor. Push up to return to the starting position.
Variations: You can increase the stress on the deltoids and triceps by taking weight off of your feet and transferring it to your hands. You can do this by elevating your feet. The higher you elevate them, the more stress on these muscles, and the less stress on the pectorals.
Push-Ups With A Plus
This exercise is provided by Lori Gross, CSCS, of Human Performance Specialists, Inc. This is an excellent rehabilitation exercise.
Perform a normal push-up. At the top of the movement, push up maximally, rounding the shoulders and abducting the scapulae. For beginners, this exercise can be done while standing and pushing-up against a wall.
One-arm Elevated Push-ups
This is a twist on the traditional push-up and stresses the serratus anterior muscle. This muscle is located on either side of the body, adjacent to the abdominal area, just below the chest and the lats, and wrap around the rib cage like large fingers.
To stress the right serratus anterior muscle, place the right hand elevated on a 6-10 inch block rather than on the floor. The left hand is placed normally on the floor and hands are slightly greater than shoulder-width apart. Perform normal push-ups but try to push the most through the right arm and use the left side only to stabilize the body. Perform 10 repetitions in this manner and then switch to the left arm.