Holding a plank is tough, but doing push-ups on your toes? It can seem near impossible if you’ve been on a fitness hiatus. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to modify the movement to build strength. Case in point: This fun and effective variation from Gregg Cook, trainer for Daily Burn 365.
If child’s pose and push-ups had a baby, it’d look something like this. The half-kneeling split push-up (now ain’t that a mouthful!) will work your chest, shoulders and triceps, says Cook. Why do this move instead of lifting weights to pump your upper body? This modified push-up “can help to increase the strength of the muscles involved in pushing,” Cook says, noting that many gym-goers can’t perform a full range of motion for a regular push-up. (Looking at you, people who only lower themselves a few inches!) If that sounds familiar, you could be seriously cheating yourself during workouts.
With this move, everything changes. Since you’re on your knees, you’ll decrease the amount of bodyweight you’re pushing off the floor. “It lessens the load compared to a full push-up,” says Cook, which can help you finally lower all the way down to the floor and successfully push back up. It’s that range of motion that is integral for increasing your strength, he says.
And don’t forget about the quasi-child’s pose you do once you’ve pushed off the floor. That offers a bit of a break for your muscles to recover, says Cook. Plus, sitting your hips backwards with your arms extended over your head will give you a nice stretch in your inner thighs and your back (specifically, your lats).
Try It Now: Half-Kneeling Split Push-Ups
How to: Using a mat underneath you, start on your hands ands knees, with your arms straight and your wrists directly under your shoulders (a). Extend your right leg out to the side. Your hips should be over your knees (b). Next, lower your upper body down towards the floor as you inhale. Slowly bend your elbows and lower your chest to the floor, while maintaining a straight line from the crown of your head to your knees (c). Next, exhale and press upward by engaging your chest and core. Think of pushing the floor away while keeping your elbows close to your sides. (Don’t let them flare away from your body too much.) (d) Now, sit your hips backwards into child’s pose, keeping your right leg out to the side. You should be as far back as you can, while keeping your arms fully extend to get a nice back stretch. Raise yourself up to the starting position (e).