Push-ups are one of the fundamental exercises in the fitness industry. They’re a great way to work your chest and core, plus you don’t need any equipment to do them. Yet, not all participants in a Group X class are stoked to do push-ups. I get it. Push-ups are hard and we’ve been conditioned to think that doing a chest press with 10 pound dumbbells is good enough in group fitness. But, I’d like to challenge us all to break free from the stigma around push-ups and encourage them in our fitness classes.
In order to teach push-ups in your Group X class, you’ll want to be armed with a quite a few variations or progressions of the push-up to help everyone find success at their own level and pace.
Here’s a look at the first three push-up progressions to cue for beginners and for anyone with a fitness limitation.
If you’re just starting out or have a limitation you’re working through, push-ups against the wall are a great starting point. Put your hands shoulder-width apart against the wall, right under shoulder-height. Scoot your feet out from the wall a few paces, so that you’re at a slight angle (not quite 45 degrees) to the floor. Keep your body in a straight line from your head all the way to your ankles as you bend at the elbow to bring your body towards the wall.
Push-ups with hands on the step
As participants continue to progress towards a push-up on the floor, they’ll want gradually get lower to the floor. Push-ups on a step are a great progression from the wall. If you have chairs, stairs or other higher equipment, those might be an even better next option after the wall.
Set up the step with a few risers underneath – it’ll be easier with more risers. If your step has bumpy ridges, you might want to place a towel down first. Then, place your hands on the step, right under your shoulders. Come into a plank position, either on your knees or your toes. Your body should be in a straight line from your knees to shoulders (or ankles to shoulders, depending on what plank you chose). Lower your body towards the step and back up, keeping that plank tight the entire time.
Knee push-ups (Version 1)
Once participants are able to transition to the floor, knee push-ups are oftentimes the typical place to start. Have participants place their hands right under their shoulders, with hands either shoulder-width — or a little bit wider — apart. Start on all fours, with your knees directly under your hips.
Lower your chest to the floor by bending your elbows.
These three push-up variations are a nice starting point for beginners. Especially as folks are building their upper body strength, make sure participants know these are perfectly good options. Tune in next week for the second half of the push-up progressions.
If you liked this post, you might also like my posts sharing tricep workouts.
For more exercise ideas, check out my workout routines page.