As runners and athletes dedicated to cardiovascular fitness, taking the time to build upper body muscle often falls by the wayside. After logging many miles out on the roads, heading to the gym to bulk up is hardly a priority. There’s no denying that our lower body muscles play a significantly more important role in our running success than our upper bodies, which is probably why so many runners fail to spend time increasing their upper body strength.
I am most definitely guilty of letting my upper body strength decrease as my mileage increases. Since my arm strength does not directly affect my running, it’s hard for me to prioritize it. Due to my ridiculous lack of arm strength, completing a push up has always felt like an abnormally difficult challenge for me. I never knew how to get better at push-ups, and never wanted to spend the time figuring it out.
This time though, I’ve dedicated a bit of research to learning more about pushups (and how to actually do a push up). I created a list of all the beginner push up variations that I could find and tested them out myself to see which were the most reasonable. After years of lacking upper body strength, I am challenging myself to dedicate time strengthening my upper body before I begin increasing my mileage.
To do so, I’ve created a 30 day push up challenge for beginners.
This push up challenge starts off fairly easy, with just 4 classic push-ups, and gradually increases the amount and difficulty of the push-ups as time goes on. There are 14 push up variations included throughout the 30 day push up challenge, which are placed strategically according to their difficulty. The point of this push up challenge is to create an attainable goal for those who would like to build muscle but don’t know where to start.
My arms are (sadly) really sore after just doing a few push ups to take pictures for this challenge, so I can’t wait to see what happens after 30 days. It’s time to stop procrastinating and making excuses. This push up challenge breaks down the overwhelming goal of gaining upper body strength into a series of realistic challenges, and gives you a place to start.
Join me in this 30 day push up challenge!
These push ups can all be completed on your knees or in regular form, whichever best suits your current fitness level. Completing a push up on your knees is no less of a workout, so feel free to modify any moves that you see fit. The challenge includes the following 14 different push up variations.
Classic Push Up
The typical, classic push up.
Wide Grip Push Up
This push up is very similar to a classic push up. The only difference is that your hands are placed farther apart from one another – slightly farther than shoulder width distance.
Incline Push Up
This push up is completed on an incline. Grab a chair or low countertop that will support your weight and place your hands on it instead of the floor.
Stacked Feet Push Up
This push up is completed exactly as it sounds, with one foot stacked on top of the other.
Shoulder Tap Push Up
Complete a classic push up, and upon your return to plank position, balance on one arm while you use your opposite arm to reach across your body and tap that shoulder.
Diamond Push Up
Place your hands next to one another on the floor. Touch the top of your index fingers, and extend your thumbs out to touch one another, creating a diamond shape.
Raised Leg Push Up
Lift one leg in the air and keep it elevated while you complete a push up.
Walking Push Up
Begin in classic push up position, and then walk one of your hands out to the side while keeping the other one in its original position. Complete a push up with this hand position, and then return to center. Walk your opposite hand out to the side for your next push up.
Dive Bomber Push Up
Begin in an upward dog position, with your legs and hips completely against the floor while your arms straighten to lift your upper body. Transition into a low pushup position, with your arms bent at your sides while your body is in plank form. From the low pushup position, move to a downward dog position.
Spider Push Up
Begin in classic push up position, and then bring one knee up towards your chest, keeping the leg elevated and off the floor. Complete a push up while holding your knee up towards your chest and balancing on one leg.
Decline Push Up
Find a chair or low surface to place your feet on, while extending your arms down to reach the floor. Complete a push up in this decline position, with both feet on an elevated surface.
Commando Push Ups
Begin in elbow plank position. Straighten one arm at a time, placing your palm flat on the floor. You should end up in straight arm plank position. Lower down to your elbows one arm at a time.
Cross Body Kick Push Ups
Begin in classic push up position, and then lift one foot from the floor to cross your leg underneath your body, kicking out to the opposite side. Maintain this cross-body kick position while completing a push up. Return your leg back to its original position, and switch sides.
Accomplishing a goal is one of the most satisfying feelings. If you are like me and have always wanting to increase your arm strength but just didn’t know where to start, start right where you are. Even with just a few push ups a day, the strength you are building really adds up. Join me in this push up challenge!