Those of us, who run, walk or cycle for fitness, often tend to overlook the importance of strength-training the upper half. A strong upper body and core adds power, balance and flexibility to all kinds of workouts, and can have a direct impact on your endurance and speed. Like the classic bodyweight-training drills, the pushup is a simple but effective way to tone and strengthen the top half. By adding a mix of pushups in your weekly schedule, you can target different muscles in your arms, shoulders, upper and lower back, while also maintaining alignment and core balance.
A well-known variation that targets the triceps, chest, part of the deltoids, as well as the abs, is the Diamond Pushup. By a slight modification of the classic pushup, this move shifts the pressure of the lift onto the triceps, while also engaging and activating core muscles in the abs, and strengthening the upper chest and shoulders.
Use an exercise mat for this exercise, as it can help avoid injuries to your wrist and arms. Begin how you would a regular pushup. Get down on your fours and then place your hands under the chest. Flatten your palms to form a diamond shape with the thumbs and forefingers.
Lower yourself into a push-up. Do it gently and slowly as it will take more effort than a classic pushup. Ensure that your back remains straight throughout (a workout buddy can help the first time, or practice in front of a mirror). Keep your abs engaged at your lowest position.
When you feel the chest touching your hands, hold the pose for a few seconds. Then slowly push yourself back up by extending your elbows. This is one rep. Attempt for 8-10 slow repetitions on your first few tries, or till you get the form right.
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It’s important to be adept with the regular pushup (at least 12-15 reps at a time) before you try this out, as this fairly advanced pose requires some amount of skill and focus. A good deal of attention must be paid to form while attempting this: alignment of the spine and the head with the lower body is important for targeting the right muscles, while excess stress on your shoulder and arms can lead to injuries in the wrist or elbow.
To make it a little easier, you can go onto your knees or bring your hands higher on the first few tries.