‘Pseudo planche’ push-ups strengthen your biceps and shoulders for real


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Photo: Getty Images/Artem Varnitsin

There’s one general way to do a push-up. You get into a plank position and raise and lower your body until your arms burn. Here’s something cool, though: By simply changing up the placement of your hands, you’ll fire up your muscles in a totally new—and challenging—way.

While typical push-ups involve facing your fingers toward your head, pseudo planche push-ups change things up and have them facing your feet. You also situate your hands further down your body. They’re simple tweaks that up the toughness of the exercise and work different areas of your body than the traditional version.

“Pseudo planche push-ups are harder than regular push-ups. The orientation of the fingers pointing toward your feet and sitting farther down your torso places a greater demand on your shoulders and biceps, causing them work harder,” says Korey Rowe, trainer at Dogpound in New York City. “The lower placement of the hands also requires more core involvement in order to keep the hips from dipping, making them harder on the core.”

When you do these push-ups on a regular basis, Rowe says they can help strengthen your biceps, shoulders, triceps, chest, and deltoids—not to mention your core. “Basically, the entire upper body muscles get involved,” he says. “In addition to being a great way to build strength, this exercise will also improve your vaulting power, climb-up strength, and advanced handstand and shoulder stand related movements.” Because who doesn’t want to master their handstand in yoga?

How to perform proper pseudo planche push-ups

  1. Get on your mat with your legs extended behind the upper body. Push your hands to the ground alongside your stomach and tuck your toes into the ground.
  2. Press your elbows against your ribs, making sure your fingers are pointing forward toward your head. The hands and toes must entirely support your body weight.
  3. Squeeze your thighs and tighten your abdominal muscles to remain in a straight line, then slowly push up and down. You should feel your entire body weight moving in the shoulders and chest.

If you want to start with the basics, here’s the right way to do a push-up:

Try a couple other tough push-up variations: the Spiderman, which works your arms and hips, and dive bombers—a move that sculpts and stretches your whole body from head to toe.

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