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Pushups are a great multijoint exercise to include in your workout. According to a 2012 publication of the Strength and Conditioning Journal, the primary muscles you use when performing a pushup are your pectoralis major, triceps brachii, and anterior deltoids. If you cannot do a regular pushup there are modifications, such as the knee pushup and incline pushup, you can perform at first to progress to being able to do a regular pushup. Also, there are variations of the pushup you can do if you need more of a challenge than a regular pushup, such as the clap pushup and T pushup. Before you start an exercise program be sure to consult with your physician.
The knee pushup is very similar to the regular pushup, but instead of supporting your weight with your hands and toes, you are supporting your weight with your hands and knees. This is easier than a regular pushup because you are no longer lifting the weight of your lower legs, and you are shortening the leverage by bringing the point of rotation closer to the hands. While performing this modified version of the pushup, keep your body, from your knees to your shoulders, in a straight line. Start with your hands underneath your shoulders with your arms straight; bend the arms bringing your chest down close to the ground, and then push back up to the starting position.
The incline pushup is another modification of the regular pushup you can start with. The lower you are to the ground the more difficult the pushup will be because of the angle of your body. To perform this exercise keep your toes on the ground and place your hands on a sturdy object that is elevated from the ground; perform the pushup as you normally would by bending the arms to lower the chest, and then straightening the arms back out. You can do this modification at any body angle, as high as standing with your hands against the wall to as low as a couple inches off the ground. No matter what angle you choose, make sure your body, from your toes to your shoulders, is in a straight line.
The clap pushup is an advanced variation of the pushup that you may want to do if you need more of a challenge than the regular pushup, but only try this is you feel comfortable and able to do so. This exercise is different than the regular pushup because you need to explode off of the ground to be able to clap your hands and get them back down to the ground before you face plant. The form for this pushup is the same as it is in the incline pushup except your hands are on the ground. Make sure to keep focused on good form while performing the clap pushup; it can be easy to forget about form when you are focused on the clap.
The T pushup is another advanced variation of the regular pushup. To perform this exercise you do a regular pushup, and then lift one arm while rotating the body into a side plank. You then lower your arm and rotate your body back to the starting position, and repeat by doing another pushup and rotating to the other side. This exercise is more advance because you are adding the challenge of rotating and balancing in a side plank, causing more activation of the abdominal and lower back muscles. As with all other variations of the pushup, make sure you keep your body, from your toes to your shoulders, in a straight line throughout the entire exercise.