If you want a sculpted upper body, the good old fashioned push-up is your secret weapon. Here are 8 push-up variations that not only work muscles in your arms, chest, shoulders, and back, they also require the use of your core muscles, engaging your entire upper body.

how to do a basic push-up.

Lie face down with your legs straight behind you, toes to the floor, and palms on the floor out to the sides of your chest. Keep your neck extended straight out from your spine. Focus on pulling the belly button into the spine to keep your abs tight. Inhale, then exhale and push yourself up by straightening your arms, maintaining a straight line from the tip of your head to your feet. Bending only at the elbows, lower your body back towards the floor until your upper arms are parallel with the floor. Exhale and push yourself back up to repeat.

technique & proper body mechanics for a push-up.

It is important to remember to focus on keeping your abs tight throughout the exercise to avoid putting unnecessary strain on back muscles.

Maintaining a straight line in your body from the tip of your head to your feet will ensure the effectiveness of the exercise.

7 push-up alternatives.

Not quite ready for regular push-ups? Try #1 and #2 to start working up to it. Tired of regular push-ups? Alternatives #3 — #7 are some great ways to spice it up a little. There are countless other options for changing it up…but these are the ones that don’t require super-human strength or coordination to accomplish.

1) modified push-ups (on your knees).

If you are just getting started and simply cannot perform a push-up with proper form, you may opt to let your knees rest on the ground until you are stronger, pushing up only the top half of your body with each rep. However, I encourage you to try full push-up position again each day, as the effectiveness of the exercise is greatly reduced with knees resting on the floor.

2) incline push-ups.

Incline push-ups are another great way to work up to regular push-ups. The positioning and the move are the same, simply start with your chest and hands elevated, lessening some of the weight you are lifting with each rep. Start with a chair, move down to a stair or two, and continue decreasing the amount of your incline until you can perform a regular push-up.

3) close grip push-ups.

Close grip push-ups engage more of the triceps muscles. Position your hands within a few inches of each other directly under your chest and proceed as with a regular push-up.

4) wide grip push-ups.

Wide grip push-ups force your chest muscles to do most of the work as your biceps and triceps are extended too far to offer much help. All you have to do is move your hands out further than shoulder width and continue as usual.

5) decline push-ups.

Decline push-ups increase the amount of weight you are lifting with each rep by placing your feet up behind you (on a chair or some stairs) before performing regular push-ups.

6) one leg push-ups.

One leg push-ups require more effort from your core muscles to balance you as you perform a regular push-up. Rest one foot on the heel of the other or extend and hold it one leg up in the air.

7) reverse hand push-ups.

By turning your hands so that your fingers are angled back towards the feet rather than facing forward, you shift the emphasis of the push-up to the biceps muscle.

post push-up stretch.

After a set of push-ups, sit back on your heels and stretch your arms out in front of you, bringing your head to the floor.

This post was originally published at http://www.lifeunlabeled.com.

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