If you have ever done push-ups, you understand why they are one of the most efficient chest bodyweight exercises. Besides working out the primary upper body and core muscles, there is a range of push-up variations. Each presents different challenges as your skill and strength level increases. So, when do you perform uneven push-ups?
Learn about the right form and integrate them into your routine when you want a more significant challenge using your bodyweight. Uneven push-ups belong to the intermediate level category requiring you to have mastered the basics of a traditional push-up first. Learning it leads you to be ready for more demanding variations like the one-handed push-ups.
What are Uneven Push-ups?
The best place to start is learning to execute uneven push-ups correctly. This variation of push-ups only differs from the traditional one by requiring one of your hands to be elevated while the other one remains in its usual position.
This change offers a broader range of motion and allows you to work out more muscle groups, including the chest, biceps and triceps, forearm muscles, and the core. Besides an extended motion range, you also get to encounter more resistance as you try to maintain your body balance as you work out.
How to Perform an Uneven Push-up
As with any other exercise, even with bodyweight, using the right form is vital for maximum benefits and preventing injury. Here is how to do an uneven push-up properly.
- Find an object that will form your raised surface. You want an option that will provide you with a height ranging from six to eight inches. Anything lower than that will deny you the balance challenge while higher than eight inches will limit your range of motion and place undue strain on your shoulders risking injury. Options include phone books, folded towels, a kettlebell, a dumbbell, a stair step, a medicine ball, or even a football.
- Start in the standard push-up position with one hand on the object and the other on the floor with the hands about 12 inches or shoulder-width apart.
- Your legs should be stretched fully at the back close together or just slightly apart. Ensure there is a straight line from your shoulders to the feet. To maintain this posture, tilt your head up and look ahead throughout the repetitions.
- The starting position is up, so once you have achieved your balance on the two hands, slowly bend your elbows as low as you can until the chest touches the side that is elevated. Hold for a second, and then slowly lift yourself back to the starting position. Do not relax your engaged muscles once up, but prepare to go back for another rep.
- As you lower yourself, inhale, and as you lift yourself, exhale, and maintain a steady rhythm through the workout.
- You have the option of working out an entire set with the platform on the one hand, or you can be changing the platform across the arms for each rep.
How Many Reps to Perform for Uneven Push-ups
The number of sets and repetitions you do depends on your level of conditioning. If you are a beginner, aim to do at least one set consisting of five reps for each arm. Once you grasp the basic form, move to do two sets of 10 reps for both arms, and then you can challenge yourself at the advanced level of 2 sets of 20 reps for both hands.
You can make the uneven push-ups even more challenging by using either a medicine ball or a basketball. If you require a more challenging option, then use two balls of different sizes, and this will challenge the core muscles even further to keep you in position.
However, should you be struggling, then you can always do half push-ups by bending your knees to the floor until you build your strength and form.
Benefits of Uneven Push-ups
- Uneven push-ups help you gain more strength and build your muscles. They present a new challenge that requires more power. Unlike the traditional push-ups which you get used to. This can limit further growth. It adds a similar effect, like adding more weight if you are weightlifting.
- More muscles are engaged when doing uneven push-ups compared to other options. The primary muscles involved are the pectoralis major, serratus anterior, and deltoids. Supporting muscles include rectus abdominis, hand extensors, obliques, and triceps.
- They help you achieve better balance and flexibility by the range of motion offered. The stretching this type of push-ups does to the muscles helps your core strengthen and increase flexibility, which is crucial for balance and stability.
- Uneven push-ups are the perfect preparation for the advanced one-handed push-ups. They help you gain the conditioning required as well as building the strength in each arm that you will need to execute other challenging push-up variations.
- An added advantage of the uneven push-up is the ability to increase or decrease difficulty tailoring them to suit your current conditioning.
Advantages of Push-ups
Besides these specific benefits of the uneven push-ups, you also get to enjoy the general advantages of push-ups as well including the following;
- Increased body strength resulting from the engagement of various muscle groups to stabilize your movement.
- Push-ups help prevent injuries to your shoulders by increasing their flexibility and strengthening the connecting tissues. As a result, the shoulder joints will become stronger, for all movements you require in your day-to-day functions.
- They help improve your cardiovascular health by increasing the heart’s activity to pump more oxygen-rich blood demanded by the muscle tissue. This action enhances the general health of the heart and its muscles, helping you prevent heart-related complications.
- They help stimulate the production of the human growth hormone, which in turn promotes the growth of muscles leading to a more defined muscular appearance.
- Push-ups help you prevent injuries and pain to the lower back, which is crucial in all body movements by stretching and strengthening lower back muscles.
- Push-ups allow you to achieve a full-body workout at no cost and with little time. They can be worked into any workout regimen and offer enough challenge for people at all levels of body strength and conditioning.
In my article how much of your body weight do you lift in a push-up, I go into this in more detail.
Other Types of Push-ups
1. Wide Grip Push-ups
The wide grip push-ups target your chest and shoulders. As the name suggests, you need to have your arms set wider than is standard.
The emphasis is on your shoulders and the pectoral muscles. Your arms should be angled at 45 degrees in relation to your body to avoid much flaring out.
2. Clap Push-up
The clap push-up is one variation of plyometric push-ups that help build up your explosive power. It requires excellent upper body strength. It helps improve your power and force output and develops the chest and triceps while strengthening the core, which is needed to stabilize your movement.
From the traditional push-up position, you lower yourself as standard but then explode, lifting your upper body high enough to allow you to clap your hand and then descend again. Land with elbows slightly bent to absorb the force and ready yourself for the next repetition.
3. Superman Push-ups
Superman push-ups are also a plyometric exercise where you lift your entire body off the floor. As you go up, your arms should be in front of your head, allowing you to do the superman before you catch yourself as you land and prepare for takeoff again.
4. Spiderman Push-ups
Spiderman push-ups work the core, triceps, hip flexors, and shoulders as well as the chest. It helps increase mobility, and its rotation prevention goal also improves the conditioning of the lower back. From the regular push-up position, you bring your knee forward and up when going down, aiming to touch the elbow in front and then alternate the sides for the next push-up.
5. One-arm Push-ups
This variation is the culmination of all push-up progressions, and it is a unique feat of strength and control. It takes your core and arm to be able to provide power and balance while pushing your body weight using one arm only.
As a result, you should practice it after achieving significant arm strength and body balance in the other forms. You will need to put your feet slightly wider than your shoulders and have one arm rested at the back while balancing and pushing with the other for a complete set before changing the arms.
Push-ups are a compound exercise with many benefits to the general strength and health of the body. However, over time you may plateau if you are relying on traditional push-ups alone. For this reason, you must mix your workouts by trying different variations, including uneven push-ups.
Uneven push-ups offer enough challenge for intermediate and advanced individuals, allowing you to improve your flexibility and strength. Uneven push-ups are the exercise you need to move to the next stage in your fitness program, and you can also include the other variations discussed above.