10 Press-Up Variations That Will Add Spice to the Simplest WFH Exercise

·3-min read
Photo credit: urbazon - Getty Images
Photo credit: urbazon - Getty Images

Even the best-laid workout plans can be quickly sent awry by the unpredictability of life. The after-work rush hour makes all but a square foot of the gym floor inaccessible; an impromptu team meeting means you can’t fit in your usual 45 minutes; a night of bad sleep means the idea of hauling yourself off for a morning squat sesh brings tears to your eyes.

That’s why it’s good to have a few body-weight moves in your arsenal – the kind you can as easily deploy in your kitchen while waiting for lunch to heat up, as you can in the gym while waiting to use the 12kg dumbbells.

‘The humble press-up is a way to maintain your muscle-building routine wherever you are,’ says MH fitness editor Andrew Tracey. ‘And with multiple variations to choose from, boredom is not a factor.’ Switching positions allows you to dial the difficulty up or down and focus on different muscles. Here are 10 ideas to get you started.

Hands Elevated

Place your hands on a box and step back into a strong plank position (A). Bend at the elbows to lower your chest to the box (B), pause, then press back up explosively. Good for high-rep burnout and building strength for floor press-ups.

Hindu Press-up

Assume press-up position, then push your hips up to form an inverted ‘V’ (A). Lower your nose to the floor between your hands, then shift your weight forwards and lift your chest as your hips lower to the ground (B). Reverse to the start.

Box Pike Press-up

Place your feet on a box and assume a plank position. Walk your hands towards the box until your torso is 45 degrees to the floor (A). Bend your arms, slowly lowering your head to the ground. Pause here (B), then push back up explosively.

Typewriter

Place your hands wider than usual. Shift to the right and bend that elbow to lower your chest (A). Keeping your chest close to the ground, shift to the left, straightening your right arm while bending the left (B). Move side to side.

Handstand

Switch emphasis from your chest to your shoulders by kicking up into handstand position against a wall (A). Bend at the elbows, slowly lowering your head to the ground. Pause (B), then push back up, keeping your body rigid throughout.

Deficit Press-up

Place two boxes at the width of your press-up position. Assume a strong plank on top of them (A), then lower yourself towards the ground, passing between the boxes until you feel a deep stretch in your chest (B). Press back up explosively.

Band Resisted

Cross a band across your back, looping your thumbs through each end. Assume the press-up position (A). Lower yourself (B), then press up, pushing explosively against the resistance of the band to activate the muscles in your upper body.

Band Assisted

Double over a resistance band and slide it above your elbows. Assume a press- up position with the band below your chest (A). Lower with control (B), then use the tension of the band to push up and grind out extra reps under fatigue.

Med-ball

Get in position with your hands on a medicine ball (A). Keeping your elbows tucked, shift your weight forwards and lower your chest. Pause, keeping tension in your triceps (B), then explosively press up. Aim to keep the ball steady.

Chaos Press-up

Loop a band around a set of J-hooks below hip height on a squat rack. Assume plank position with your hands on the band (A). Slowly lower your chest, creating maximum tension to keep the band steady (B). Return under control.

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