In this blog, I demonstrate four different push ups variations — each progressively more challenging — and there is a bonus sections where a guest demonstrates the perfect pushup for your shoulder and joint health.
Table of Contents
Push Ups Variations
The four pushup variations (one for each level in Exercise for Better Bones) are:
- Wall Push Ups for Beginner Level
- Step Push Ups for Active Level
- Floor Push Ups for Athletic Level
- Twist Push Ups for Elite Level
Wall Push Ups for Beginner
This is a comprehensive overview video I recently did on the wall push up. It covers many important concepts.
Below is a shorter version of the wall push up from Exercise for Better Bones.
Step by Step Instructions for Wall Push Ups
- You want to do is ensure that your hands are at the height of your shoulder through your wall push up.
- If you stand arm-length distance away from the wall, point your hands in towards one another.
- Have them one and a half shoulder-width apart.
- If your shoulders are 14 inches, go to about a 21 inch width to get a more comfortable distance between your hands to focus on your pectoral muscles.
- Take a nice breath in, slowly exhale as you come in, and push away from the wall.
- Use your abdominals to stop your body from sagging.
- Keep your ears, shoulder, hip and knee in alignment through your wall push up.
Tips and Suggestions
Two things to mention here.
- If you feel like you get more of a stretch in your calf and this stops you from getting the most out of your wall push up, allow yourself to roll forward onto the balls of your feet.
- You don’t have to keep your heels down through your wall push up.
- If you find that the straight arm is too easy for you, then step away from the wall.
- As you step away eight inches from the wall, lower your hands roughly eight inches so that you remain in that leaning tower position.
- Push down and push the wall away as you come out.
- Breath in, exhale, and push as you come up.
That is how to do the wall push up exercise in good form.
Step Push Ups for Active
The step push ups exercise is an Active level strength exercises. Below is a video demonstration of the step push up exercise.
It targets the following bones:
Instructions for the Step Push Ups
You may want to start on the fourth or fifth step of stairs in your house.
I don’t encourage you to start with a low step (or the step in the video) unless you have a lot of experience doing pushups.
The form is exactly the same regardless of the height, whether it’s from your table, from your kitchen counter top, or the third step of your house. You progressively work your way down.
- Have your hands directly underneath your shoulders.
- You also want to have your hands about one and a half shoulder-width apart.
- For me that’s about 21 inches (my shoulders are about 14 inches wide).
- Turn your hands in to face one another slightly.
- From this position step back without moving your arms back.
- Keep your arms in line with your hands.
- Step a hip-width back.
- Take a breath in.
- Exhale when coming down.
- Allow your upper arms to get to a point where they’re parallel to the surface.
- Breath in and come down.
- When your arms are parallel to the surface, press back.
Step Push Ups • Tips and Suggestions
A lot of times when I’m coaching individuals on push ups (especially the step push up), I notice that they see the surface and seem to want to get there as fast as possible! I often see people going down and leading with their head.
This is teaching your body bad form. Use a cuing such as a placing a stick along your back to keep your form.
Place the stick so that you have that feedback on your movement and alignment. Keep your head as close to the stick or in line with the stick as you can with your push up.
This will stop you from undoing any of the great postural work that you’ve been doing through your program.
That concludes the step push ups.
Step Push Ups • Professional Tip
Here is some additional guidance for health professionals on the step push up exercise.
Exercise Recommendations for Osteoporosis
Exercise is an essential ingredient to bone health. If you have osteoporosis, therapeutic exercise needs to be part of your osteoporosis treatment program.
But what exercises should you do and which ones should you avoid? What exercises build bone and which ones reduce your chance of a fracture? Is Yoga good for your bones? Who should you trust when it comes to exercises for osteoporosis?
A great resource on exercise and osteoporosis is my free, seven day email course called Exercise Recommendations for Osteoporosis. After you provide your email address, you will receive seven consecutive online educational videos on bone health — one lesson each day. You can look at the videos at anytime and as often as you like.
- Can exercise reverse osteoporosis?
- Stop the stoop — how to avoid kyphosis and rounded shoulders.
- Key components of an osteoporosis exercise program.
- Key principles of bone building.
- Exercises you should avoid if you have osteoporosis.
- Yoga and osteoporosis — should you practice yoga if you have osteoporosis?
- Core strength and osteoporosis — why is core strength important if you have osteoporosis?
Enter your email address and I will start you on this free course. I do not SPAM or share your email address (or any information) with third parties. You can unsubscribe from my mail list at any time.
Floor Push Ups for Athletic
The Floor Push up exercise is an Athletic level strength exercise from the Exercise for Better Bones Program. The exercise targets muscles in the chest, triceps and abdominals as well as bones in the wrists, hips and spine. I demonstrate the exercise in this video.
Instructions for the Floor Push Ups
- Have your hands positioned wider than shoulder — up to one and a half shoulder-widths.
- My shoulders are about 14 inches wide, so I can place my hands up to 21 inches in width.
- Place your hands turned slightly towards one another and the elbows out to the side.
- Have your hands underneath your shoulders.
- Rest onto the balls of your feet, toes right underneath you, equal weight-bearing through all your toes.
- Take your breath in.
- Your upper arms come down to where you’re parallel to the floor and press back away.
- You want to ensure that your entire body is moving towards the floor simultaneously.
- Do not lead with your head or your pelvis.
- One training tip that works really nicely is to place a ruler down your shirt.
- The ruler along the back ensures that your head stays in line.
That concludes the floor push ups.
Twist Push Ups for Elite
The Twist Push Ups is a strength exercise from the Exercise for Better Bones program specifically designed for the Elite Level. The exercise targets the muscles of the chest, triceps, deep abdominals and back. It also targets the bones in the wrist, spine and hips.
Twist Push Ups • Instructions
The tricky part of the twist push up exercise is your foot position. You want your feet wide enough apart so that when you rotate, you’re able to go onto the inside and also the outside of each foot without them getting in each other’s way.
The twist push ups is done once you’ve mastered your floor push ups.
- With your feet at least 10 inches apart, depending on the size of your feet, you want to have your hands under your shoulders.
- They can be slightly wider than shoulder width up to one and a half shoulder-width apart.
- You take your breath in, go down, and do a full push-up.
- As you come out of it, you explode up onto one hand.
- Back down, and explode up.
- Rotate or twist.
- Note here the position of the feet. In the side plank position, you maintain your body alignment, so your head is in line with your sternum and with your pelvis. Do not drop or go too high through your plank position with the twist.
- A training tip would be to perform this with the ruler.
That covers the elite-level twist push up exercise.
The Perfect Pushup for Joint Health
Push ups are a popular exercise. But could you damage your shoulder if you do not do push ups properly? You could, so you need to do the perfect pushup.
In the video below, Marjorie Gingras, a Physiotherapist from Montreal and expert in the shoulder, demonstrates the perfect push up.
Do not lower your body too low or close to the surface. If you go to low, the shoulder will glide in front because you’re going too deep into it.
You want to keep a limit that your arm is going to stay parallel to the surface. Do not go lower than that.
The other aspect of the pushup is shoulder blade stability.
Many people go so deep that they get the shoulder blades all the way together in the middle of the back.
When you start your pushup, keep a good contraction with your shoulder blades apart. When you go deep, the shoulder blades are going to move, of course, but you don’t want them to glide all the way together and feel a pinch of skin between them.
Keep that limited with the proper alignment and this is going to be a perfect pushup.
Are Push Ups Good for Osteoporosis?
Some clients ask me if push ups are good fro osteoporosis. Read my blog on Planks and Pushups for Osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis Exercise Plan
Visit my Osteoporosis Exercise Plan page for more information on this topic.