Push-ups are a polarizing topic. It’s easy to love them if you’ve completed every push-up challenge that the internet has to offer, but it’s just as easy to loathe them (and the next day soreness that they induce). Regardless of where you stand on this arm-day spectrum, it’s undeniable that since push-ups work so many different muscles groups in one exercise, they’re pretty ubiquitous in most workouts. And one way to take advantage of a particularly push-up heavy workout is to hold your stance at the bottom of the move, or rather do an isometric push-up hold.
To perform an isometric push-up hold, you set up your body the same way you would for a regular push-up, engage your core, and then lower your chest toward your hands until you reach the lowest position you can control. (This should be one or two inches above the ground.) At the bottom of the push-up, stop and, while activating your torso, hold yourself in this position for a moment before pushing yourself back up. The movement combines the benefits of a push-up with those of a plank, and to reap the benefits but not over exert your muscles, it’s important to start with five to 10 reps and work up towards more from there.
Doing this hold at the base of the movement is great for your back and core muscles, but more than anything, it is a surefire, low-impact way to create tension in some of the smaller muscles in your arms and shoulders. Often, boxing and martial arts trainers will use this strategy to help build punching power and strength. Doing this exercise repeatedly and training your body to balance and feel comfortable under stress is a surefire way to help fire up your arm muscles without putting pressure on your joints. In no time, you’ll be able to crank through multiple rounds of regular up-downs as well as holds… and maybe you’ll even walk away with a new found love of the push-ups, too.
Ready to get to work? Click play on the Meg Takacs’s workout above.
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