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Push-ups are a great way to strengthen and tone your entire upper body and core. They require no gym membership or fancy equipment; you can do them anywhere. Best of all, they can be adapted to challenge anyone from beginners to advanced lifters.

Push-ups are a compound exercise, meaning they involve the use of more than one muscle group and joint. Your arms, shoulders, chest, back, abs and even your legs (and all the joints supporting those muscles) need to activate to complete the movement.

While your chest muscle, or pectoralis major, is the prime mover, your triceps (backs of your upper arms) and deltoids (shoulder muscles) are also synergistic (supporting) muscles that play major roles.

Your rectus abdominis (think 6-pack abs), obliques (which run along the sides of your midsection), your quadriceps (front of your thighs), and the erector spinae (vertical muscle along your spine) all work to stabilize your body throughout the movement. Basically, you get a lot of bang for your buck when you do push-ups.

Since push-ups can be quite challenging, and form is essential to getting the most benefit, here are three different progressions beginning with the easiest to most challenging.

Beginner: Kneeling Push-Up (with toes anchored to provide optimal spinal support)

Intermediate: Standard Full Body Push-Up

Advanced: Dive Bomber Push-Up

As always, work within YOUR pain free range and meet YOUR body where it is. Enjoy the benefits of a strong and fit body!

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