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3 Simple tips for better push-ups

Jamie Walker is the CEO and co-founder of SweatGuru (www.sweatguru.com), helping consumers book and manage fitness classes online. She is a yoga instructor and personal trainer.

There are very few exercises as effective as the push-up. It uses body weight to challenge and strengthen your chest, shoulders, triceps, biceps and glutes while also toning your entire core. It's no wonder it is often used as a measure of physical fitness.

Instead of shying away from it, embrace the push-up with these three simple steps.

1. Work on your plank

The plank plays an integral part in the push-up. Perfecting your plank will help you build strength and stamina in your push-up as well. To get into plank position, start with your hands on the ground and under but slightly outside of our shoulders. Dig your toes into the ground and squeeze the glutes to stabilize the lower half of the body. Neutralize the spine so the head and neck are in one line. Start by holding for 20 seconds and increasing by 10 each day (until you reach a minute).

2. Get off of your knees

Doing push-ups on the knees is often called a girlie push-up. I say, get up off your knees. While this variation can be effective if you need to complete a few more reps, it's not a great place to build a base of strength. When on the knees, we often cheat our core out of the workout. So instead of starting your push-ups on your knees, try standing up in front of a barbell on a rack (a kitchen counter also works.). You can do incline push-ups, lowering your barbell or counter until you get closer to the floor.

3. Use props

One of my favorite techniques for increasing push-up strength and stamina is to use a Bosu (or similar prop). Start on the flat side of the Bosu with hands gripping the sides and feet out in plank position, then lower your body until your chest nearly touches the Bosu. The Bosu provides a little incline and makes it easier to do more reps. If the push-ups are bothering your wrists, you can also try doing them on dumbbells to take some of the pressure off.

Don't shy away from the push-up. It truly is one of the most effective ways to build strength, torch calories and tone your entire body.

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