All the exercises and instructions shown come from ACE Fit, a nonprofit exercise and health certification organization.
Step 1-Starting Position: From a standing position with your feet together or slightly apart, stiffen (“brace”) your abdominal muscles to stabilize your spine.
Step 2- Gently exhale and bend forward from your hips (“hip hinging”), keeping your knees extended (but not locked), and extend your arms in front of your body while slowly lowering your torso towards the floor until you can place your fingers or palms of your hands on the floor in front of your body. Maintaining a flat spine and a soft bend in your knees during this movement is acceptable.
Step 3- Slowly begin to walk your hands forward (6-12” or 12 ½ – 25 cm steps) without moving your feet (your heels will begin to rise off the floor). Continue walking yourself forward until you reach a full-push-up position where your spine, hips and head are level with the floor (plank position).
Step 4- Perform one full push-up, lowering your chest and hips simultaneously to the floor while maintaining a rigid torso and head aligned with your spine. Do not allow your low back to sag or your hips to hike upwards during this downward phase. Continue to lower yourself until your chest or chin touch the floor. Allow your elbows to flare outwards during the lowering phase.
Step 5- Press upwards through your arms while maintaining a rigid torso and head aligned with your spine. Do not allow your low back to sag or your hips to hike upwards. Continue pressing until the arms fully extend at the elbows. Slowly begin walking your feet forward towards your hands, taking 6-12” steps without moving your hands. Maintain a flat spine throughout and continue walking until your feet are close to your hands.
*To maximize the benefits of this exercise and reduce the potential for injury, it is important to monitor the position of your spine throughout the exercise. Focus on keeping your spine flat and avoid any rounding of your low back. Smaller steps help maintain correct body position. Reaching too far forward with your arms will put unnecessary stress on the shoulders.
- Pushups (Modify with Bent Knees if needed)
Step 1- Starting Position: Kneel on an exercise mat or floor and bring your feet together behind you.
Step 2- Slowly bend forward to place your palms flat on the mat, positioning your hands shoulder-width apart with your fingers facing forward. Slowly shift your weight forward until your shoulders are positioned directly over your hands. Reposition your hands as needed to allow full extension of your body from the knees without any bend at the hips. Stiffen your torso by contracting your core and abdominal muscles (“bracing”).
Step 3- Downward Phase: Slowly lower your body towards the floor while maintaining a rigid torso and head aligned with your spine. Do not allow your low back to sag or your hips to hike upwards during this downward phase. Continue to lower yourself until your chest or chin touch the mat or floor. Your elbows should remain close to the sides of your body or flare outwards slightly.
Step 4- Upward Phase: Press upwards through your arms while maintaining a rigid torso and head aligned with your spine. Do not allow your low back to sag or your hips to hike upwards. Continue pressing until the arms are fully extended at the elbows.
Push-ups place stress upon the wrist joints. To alleviate some of this stress you may opt to use dumbbells and grip the handles rather than place your hands on the floor. If you are pressing from an elevation such as a dumbbell, you do not need to lower your chest or chin to the floor, but rather lower yourself until your chest or chin are level with the dumbbell handles.
- Plank Ups
Start in a push-up position with the hands under the shoulders and the legs stretched out directly behind. Squeeze the thigh and glute muscles to keep body and legs in a straight line, and lower down to the elbows one elbow at a time. From this position on the elbows, press the hands into the floor one at a time to return to the push-up position.
- Spider Walks
Start in a push-up position with the hands shoulder-width apart and the legs straight out directly behind the body about hip-width apart. Push the toes of the left foot into the floor and squeeze the left thigh and glute while moving the right knee forward to the outside of the right elbow. While the right leg is forward, push back through the left heel to straighten the left leg. Then straighten the right leg and bring the left knee forward to the outside of the left elbow while reaching forward with the right hand. Alternate this arm and leg action for the desired distance.
- Bicep Curls
Hold the barbell with both hands facing up so the wrists, elbows, and shoulders are in a straight line about shoulder-width apart. Lift the barbell toward the shoulders while bending the elbows and keeping them next to the middle of the body. Slowly lower the weight to return to the starting position. Keep chest still, using just the arms for the movement.
- Hammer Curls
Step 1-Starting Position: Stand holding dumbbells in your hands with a closed, neutral grip (thumbs around the handles with your palms facing your body). Position the dumbbells alongside your thighs with your elbows fully extended. Assume a split-stance position to stabilize your body, stiffen your torso by contracting your abdominal/core muscles (“bracing”), and depress and retract your scapulae (pull your shoulders down and back), maintaining these positions throughout the exercise. Your head and neck should be aligned with your spine.
Step 2-Upward Phase: Exhale and slowly flex (bend) one or both elbows in unison until the dumbbell(s) near(s) the front of your shoulder. If performing alternating arm curls, the opposite arm should remain in the starting position. Perform the curl while keeping your torso erect (no arching your low back) or without moving your elbows forward. Maintain a neutral wrist position (wrist straight without any bend with your palms facing your body) and avoid shrugging your shoulders throughout the movement.
Step 3-Downward Phase: Inhale and gently lower the dumbbells back towards your starting position until the elbow(s) is/are fully extended, keeping the dumbbell in the neutral position. Maintain your split-stance, torso and shoulder position and if performing alternating arm curls, repeat to the opposite side.
*As some of us show structural differences at the elbow, we may not be able to hold the dumbbells against our sides in the lowered position unless we force a bend at our wrists. The dumbbell position selected should be one that is most comfortable for you and keeps the wrists aligned straight with the forearm.
- Chair Tricep Dips
Grip the front edges of a chair or bench with your hand. Hover your butt just off and in front of the seat, feet flat, and legs bent so thighs are parallel to the floor. Straighten your arms and then lower your body toward the floor until your arms form 90-degree angles. Then, engage your triceps to press back to start.