If you had just started to train at home or you are regenerating after an injury and it is still difficult for you to do the classic push-ups, try to start from light variations of those. They will not only prepare your muscle system for loads, but give you the confidence about your abilities, giving you the starting impulse which will support your desire to train, when you come to more difficult variations of push-ups.
The main idea of this kind of push-ups is a gradual movement from almost vertical body position (for example, when you lean on a wall) to a level, that is needed to do the classic push-ups.
What muscles work: chest, triceps, front deltoids, trapezius muscle, rectus abdominis muscle.
Performing the exercise: stand in front of the wall on a distance more than your arms length. Put your feet together and lean on the wall with your palms shoulder-width, at the chests level (photo 1). On inhale start to bend your arms in elbows (photo 2), until you touch the wall with your forehead, then go back to the starting position (on exhale).
If you can do more than 20 reps easily, you should gradually increase the load by increasing the body angle. To do this you will need a table or some other strong pillar, with height about on your hips level (in the lower point of the exercise your body should be at approximately 45 degrees to the floor).
Performing the exercise: grab the edge of the table shoulder-width (do not put your hands on a table top, they may slipper) and stand on a distance, so in the lower position you will touch the table with your chest on solar plexus level (photo 3). Slowly bend your arms in elbows (photo 4) – remember, we are only preparing to the loads, so don’t hurry. Stay in lower position for 1-2 seconds then go back to the starting position.
Notice: though for most of people, even unprepared, this kind of exercise may look quite easy, do not ignore it. Hone the technique, learn to hold your body straight using your back, abdominals and buttocks. Do not forget to breathe right (inhale – bend, exhale – straighten).
This kind of push-ups is maximum close to classic exercise, but a little easier to perform, because bending your legs muscles of arms and chest get three times less load.
Performing the exercise: stand in the emphasis lying on your palms and knees. Put your hands a little wider than the shoulder-width, keep legs together (you can cross them for comfort). Using body muscles hold your body straight (photo 5). Bending your arms in elbows, on inhale go down till your nose touches the floor (photo 6) and on exhale go back to the starting position. If performing the exercise with full amplitude is still difficult for you – increase depth gradually. You can use soft objects, like ball or bent towel for this, and go down only till you touch it.
Notice: do not put elbows too wide, better keep them by your body. The tempo is: 2-1-1-2 (two seconds to go down, one second pause at the bottom, one second to straighten arms and two seconds to prepare to the next rep).
If performing those (lightened) kinds of push-ups is not difficult for you anymore, and you can perform any of them 20 times with correct technique – move on to classic push-ups.
Good books to read:
Bret Contreras. Bodyweight Strength Training Anatomy – Human Kinetics, 2013 – 224 p.
Kavadlo Al. Pushing the Limits: Total Body Strenght with No Equipment – Dragon Door Publications, 2013 – 224 p.
BJ Gaddour. Your Body Is Your Barbell: No Gym. Just Gravity. Build a Leaner, Stronger, More Muscular You in 28 Days – Rodale, 2014 – 288 p.
Paul Wade. Convict Conditioning 2: Advanced Prison Training Tactics for Muscle Gain, Fat Loss and Bulletproof Joints – Dragon Door Publications, 2012 – 340 p.
Pavel Tsatsouline. The Naked Warrior: Master the Secrets of the Super-strong, Using Bodyweight Exercises Only – Dragon Door Publications, 2004 – 218 p.