"Push-ups have a dramatic effect on the arms," says Stefano, particularly biceps, triceps and shoulders. They also help condition the chest and abdominals.
How to Do It. Lie face down on the floor or mat, with your hands on the floor, palms down, slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, and toes curled under on the floor. Your back and legs are straight. Exhale as you slowly push your body away from the floor. Inhale, lowering yourself back down to the point where your chest barely touches or comes within a few inches of the floor. Repeat to muscle fatigue.
To lessen intensity, says Stefano, do the modified push-up, in which everything remains the same, except the knees are bent and remain on the floor during the movement. To increase intensity, perform both the up and down phases of the push-up very slowly by counting to four when pushing away from the floor and to eight while lowering to the floor. Indeed, holding the position during any exercise for at least a count of two will increase intensity.
Goal: Two sets of 10-20 repetitions.
Another modification suggested by Florez is the wall push-up, in which you stand facing a wall and lean on it with hands. Arms are shoulder-width apart. Do 1-2 sets of push-ups, 10-12 repetitions.
To Ensure Results
Most people who begin a resistance program tend to overtrain, says Stefano, who recommends that each muscle group be adequately worked at least twice each week (2-3 sets of 10-20 repetitions). "The key to results isn't only how many sets or reps you do, but more importantly what level of muscle fatigue is hit on each set."