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Eight easy alternatives to boring old push-ups

The question: I am bored of regular push-ups. Are there some variations you can share to mix things up?

The answer: Absolutely! I make myself and my clients do so many push-ups that I have had to learn lots of "fun" variations so I wouldn't die of boredom! (That said, my clients often tease me that my idea of "fun" is different than theirs).

Try incline and decline push-ups. Both varieties don't require a gym, and mixing up the angle of your push-ups will challenge your muscles to work in multiple ranges, meaning that possibly underutilized portions of your upper body will be challenged.

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To prioritize the middle and lower fibers of your chest, do push-ups with your hands on the edge of a sofa or bench, feet on the floor.

To prioritize the upper fibers of your chest and shoulders, do push-ups with your toes on the sofa and hands on the floor.

To increase the demands on your core, try T push-ups. As you push yourself up, rotate your arm and torso to the right. Slowly return your arm to the floor. Repeat, rotating left.

Lastly, try supersetting push-ups with another exercise. I love this push-up/plan-and-row pyramid. Do 10 push-ups, two plank and rows, eight push-ups, four plank and rows, six push-ups, six plank and rows, four push-ups, eight plank and rows, two push-ups and 10 plank and rows.

Here's how you do plank and rows: Start in a plank position, hands under your shoulders, toes on the floor. Place a soup can or weight on the floor. Without rotating your hips, grab the weight with your right hand and row your right elbow up to the sky. Slowly replace the weight. Repeat with your left hand.

Trainer's tip: Push-ups, although great, primarily work the chest, which, when tight, can pull the shoulders forward. To counteract this, do exercises like bent-over rows to work the upper back and stretches for your chest. Try the door-frame chest stretch: Bend one arm to 90 degrees and place it against a door frame. Rotate slightly away from the arm and hold for 30 seconds. Repeat on opposite side.

Kathleen Trotter has been a personal trainer and Pilates equipment specialist for 10 years. Her website is

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