Push-ups are just plain hard. But they’re great for building upper-body strength, especially for expectant moms who will soon be doing plenty of lifting. Sara Haley is a Santa Monica based pre- and postnatal exercise specialist and creator of the “Expecting More” workout series for pregnant women. Her exercises help moms-to-be gently and comfortably work their way up to traditional push-ups. But you don’t have to be pregnant to reap these benefits. (Haley was five months pregnant at the time of this photo shoot. She has since given birth to a baby boy.)
What it does
Helps tone and strengthen the upper body, and builds a foundation (and confidence) for doing traditional push-ups.
What to do
Stand behind a sturdy chair placed on a mat or carpet — someplace where the chair won’t slide away from you. You can also do this against a kitchen counter. Step a few feet from your chair or countertop. (It may take you a few tries to find a comfortable position for your feet in relationship to the chair or counter.) Position hands slightly wider than shoulder distance apart. Rise up slightly on your toes, pull your belly button toward your spine and tighten the glutes so your torso maintains a rigid, plank position. Slowly lower yourself toward the chair or counter until your elbows reach a 90-degree angle. Return to starting position and repeat. Breathe throughout the movements.
Alternative move: Come around to the other side of the chair and place your hands on top of the seat or hold on to its sides. Remember to maintain that plank position.
Haley suggests shooting for 10 reps but says you don’t need to do them all at one.