Improve Your Upper-Body Strength
By Selene Yeager and Wanita Nicol
Fix this trouble area! Sculpt muscle and improve your upper-body strength with these exercises…
FIGURE OUT HOW FIT YOU ARE
Take the balance push-up test, then score yourself accordingly: aspiring, solid or strong.
Get in the bottom of a push-up position with your hands on a stability ball. Keep your legs and body straight and your feet hip-width apart, balancing on your toes. Extend your arms and push your torso off the ball until your arms are nearly straight. Return to starting position and repeat as many times as possible.
WHY WE PICKED THE BALANCE PUSH-UP TEST
According to a study published in the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism, placing your hands on a stability ball when doing push-ups makes your arms work 30 percent harder than when you have them on the floor.
WH FIT SCORE
Aspiring One to four push-ups
Solid Five to seven push-ups
Strong Eight-plus push-ups
BUILD UPPER-BODY STRENGTH WITH PUSH-UPS
Push-ups work your chest, shoulders and arms, as well as your core. Even your legs and butt get in on the action to help keep you stable.
Aspiring: MODIFIED PUSH-UP
On all fours, lean forward, position your hands so your arms are directly under your shoulders and lift your feet so your weight is on your hands and knees (A). Lower your body until your chest is just above the ground (B). Return to start. That’s one rep. Do 10.
Solid: BASIC PUSH-UP
Position your hands on the floor directly under your shoulders, legs straight out behind you so your weight is supported by your hands and toes (A). Lower your body until your chest nearly touches the floor (B). Pause, then return to start. That’s one rep. Do 10 to 15.
Strong: TRIPLE-STOP PUSH-UP
Get into standard push-up position (A). Lower your body so your elbows are slightly bent (B). Pause for two seconds. Continue lowering your body until your chest is just above the floor (C). Pause for two seconds. Return to position B. Pause, then return to start. That’s one rep. Do eight to 12.
TEST YOUR PROGRESS
Retake the balance push-up test every four weeks. If you move up a level, brag to anyone who will listen, then move up to the next exercise level in that category. Use the tests as motivation to set personal records. If you’re already “strong”, add more reps to the strength moves.