If doing a full pushup on the floor has you gasping for air, take it down a notch and lighten your lifting load with incline pushups. These pushups still engage the muscles in your chest, arms, tummy, lower back and shoulders. There's no excuse not to do this exercise, because you can do it right at home using just your body weight and that couch you like to lounge on. Once you get stronger and are able to do full pushups on the floor, use the same couch and your new superwoman powers to do decline pushups for an extra challenge.
Warm up with five to 10 minutes of low-intense cardio. Jog or briskly walk around in the living room or jog or march in place if you lack space. Pump your arms back and forth as you move your legs to really get your blood flowing.
Stand upright behind the back of a couch, place your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart on top of the backrest, and then walk your feet straight back until you're on your toes and your body forms a diagonal line from your head to your heels. For a slightly greater challenge, place your hands on the armrest or near the edge of the seat cushion of the couch. The lower the surface that you place your hands on, the more weight you have to support and the harder the pushups will be.
Tighten your tummy muscles, bend your elbows out, and then slowly lower your chest toward the couch until your upper arms are parallel to the floor. Pause for one second in this position. Look down at the couch and move your body as a whole during the motion. Avoid arching your back or raising your buttocks -- keep your muscles tight and your body straight as a plank.
Push off the couch and extend your arms to return to the starting point. Pause for a second, and then start the next pushup. Gradually work your way up to completing three sets of 10 to 12 repetitions.
Jog or walk briskly around the room or in one spot for five to 10 minutes to warm up your muscles and to get your blood flowing. Pump your arms back and forth as your legs move.
Kneel on the floor with your back facing a couch, position your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart on the floor, and then extend your legs and place the front of your feet on the seat cushion. For a bigger challenge, do the exercise at the side of the couch and place your feet on the armrest. The higher your feet are, the harder the pushups will be.
Tighten your abdominal muscles, bend your elbows out and slowly lower your upper body toward the floor, leading with your chest. Pause for one second when your upper arms are parallel to the floor. Look down at the floor and keep your body straight as a plank the entire time. Avoid raising your buttocks or arching your back.
Push off on the floor and extend your arms slowly to return to the starting point. Imagine pushing yourself away from the floor. Pause for one second before starting the next pushup. Complete 10 to 12 repetitions to finish one set and slowly work your way up to doing three sets.
- Inhale as you lower into the pushup, and exhale as you extend your arms and push yourself back to the starting point.
- Consult a doctor before taking on a new exercise routine, especially if you have a health condition or injury.
Kimberly Caines is a well traveled model, writer and licensed physical fitness trainer who was first published in 1997. Her work has appeared in the Dutch newspaper "De Overschiese Krant" and on various websites. Caines holds a degree in journalism from Mercurius College in Holland and is writing her first novel.