This classic body-weight exercise appears basic but can present real challenges. Limited wrist mobility can cause pain, and improper form can create shoulder discomfort, says exercise physiologist Dean Somerset, CSCS.
For wrist relief, try gripping dumbbells or doing pushups from your knuckles. To protect the shoulders, think of the exercise as a “moving plank,” with glutes squeezed and shoulder blades retracted.
Beginners can elevate their hands on a bench, box, or even the wall — a more efficient way to build strength than dropping to the knees.
To make it harder, elevate your feet or wear a weight vest.
- Start in a plank position with your hands slightly wider than shoulder width, arms straight (but not locked), head neutral, and core tight.
- Bend your elbows, pointing them slightly backward and to the sides (do not let them flare out much beyond 45 degrees). Lower your body until your triceps are about parallel to the floor.
- Aim to tap your chest to the floor (but don’t lie down). Pause for a moment at the bottom and exhale as you push back up to the starting position.