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The regular pushup, a fundamental body weight exercise, targets your chest, triceps and shoulder muscles. Depending on your fitness level, standard pushups may be too difficult or too easy for you. The elevated pushup, a pushup modification, allows you to adjust the intensity of the exercise simply by changing your body position.
A regular pushup is performed on level ground. Your feet and hands should be on the same level, neither end more elevated than the other end. An elevated pushup is more or less challenging than the standard version depending on which end of your body you elevate. If you elevate your feet, this makes the exercise more challenging because you are angling more of your body weight toward your hands. If you elevate your hands, this makes the exercise easier because you are angling more of your body weight toward your feet. The intensity of the exercise changes in relation to the amount of elevation. The higher you elevate your feet, the more challenging the pushup is; the higher you elevate your hands, the easier the pushup is. The wall pushup, where your hands are against a wall and your feet are on the floor, is the most basic, easiest version of the pushup exercise.
For the different pushup modifications, the angle of your body changes, but the alignment does not; your body should be a straight line from your shoulders to your ankles. Do not allow your hips to sag or rise; they should stay in line with the rest of your body. Your entire body should move up and down as one unit. Squeeze your buttocks and engage your abs to maintain proper body alignment.
The exercise technique is similar for both the regular and elevated versions of the exercise. Position your wrists in line with your shoulders, not forward or behind them, and set your hands just past shoulder-width apart. Inhale and lower your body by bending your elbows, allowing them to flare out to the sides. Pause for a count at the bottom of the movement, and then exhale as you press back up, straightening your arms.
Elevating your body angle too much at either end can change the emphasis and effectiveness of the exercise. Elevating your feet past hip-height emphasizes the shoulder muscles more than the chest muscles, turning the pushup into a shoulder press exercise. A handstand pushup, the most challenging pushup modification -- your body is perpendicular to the floor with your feet in the air -- targets the shoulders, not the chest muscles.
Elevating your upper body too much negates the resistance, making the movement ineffective. When performing a wall pushup, if you place your hands high on the wall and your feet close to the wall, you will be pushing very little body weight. Set your body angle to challenge the target muscles.