Those who has mastered classic push-ups (can do more than 20 push-ups with perfect technique and rhythm), should gradually move to more difficult variations. One of the most simple and famous ways to regulate the load on different muscle groups is to change arms position.
Push-ups with Wide Hand Stance (Wide Push-ups)
What muscles work: chest, rear deltoids, triceps, trapezius muscle, rectus abdominis muscle. Wide hand stance gives an ability to work better on chest muscles, putting some part of the load off the arms and back.
Performing the exercise: stand in the emphasis lying on palms and feet fingertips. Put your hands so wide that in lower point your pre-shoulders would be perpendicular to the floor (approximately one third wider than with classic push-ups). For comfort you can also move hands a little forward. Keep legs together (photo 1). On inhale, by bending your hands in elbows go down until the angle of elbows is 90 degrees (photo 2), on exhale go back to starting position.
Notice: lower your body evenly, do not try to lighten the exercise by bending your back to touch the floor with your head. Do not put your hands too wide (not more than 45 degrees relative to body). Do not try to lower maximum low, it should still be 5 cm minimum to the floor (to control the depth you can use the standing matchbox). Perform the exercise with the tempo: 2-1-1-2 (two seconds to go down, one second bottom pause, one second to straighten arms and two seconds upper pause).
Push-ups with Narrow Hand Stance (Narrow Push-ups)
For those who has mastered classic full push-ups, push-ups with wide hand stance were certainly not difficult. This is not a surprise – the chest muscles (which get the main load in this exercise) of most of people are stronger than arms. Push-ups with narrow hand stance require more triceps strength.
Performing the exercise: stand in the emphasis lying, as in classic push-ups, but put your hands way more narrow and turn inside a little, so that your index fingers and thumbs of both hands may touch (photo 3). Try to keep legs together, but if it is hard to keep balance you can put them a little wider. Gradually bending your arms in elbows and wrists go down until you touch your hands (photo 4). Hold one second pause and then go back to the starting position.
Notice: as your palms are in their natural position you can go as deep as you can. Doing this do not try to press elbows to your body – just keep the starting angle, defined by palms position. Do not forget to breathe right: as you go down – inhale, as you go up – exhale. If the exercise is difficult – you can put your hands wider, but remember – you should aim to connect your fingers (photo 5). This is exactly the kind of push-ups that is called “diamond” ones (by the form of the figure between connected fingers), they not only train your triceps, but strengthen tendons of elbows and wrists, that are extremely necessary for your hands strength and health.
Having mastered push-ups from this article (doing any of them al least 20 times with correct technique), you can include more complicated push-ups to your training program, like arms and legs pillar 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.