How to Do a Chinese Push-Up

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Chinese push-ups work all the muscles from the classic push-up and more. In addition to your chest, several assisting and stabilizing muscles in your arms, shoulders and abs, the Chinese push-up also works your hamstrings and several muscles in your back. Executing this advanced body-weight exercise is no easy feat and it's designed for elite athletes with tremendous upper-body and core strength. You can perform three versions of the Chinese push-up -- overhead, inverted “V” and the dive bomber.

Things You'll Need

  • Exercise mat

Overhead Version

  • Lie flat on your stomach on an exercise mat. Extend your legs straight behind you and position your feet a couple of inches apart. Bend your ankles and curl your toes under.

  • Extend your arms forward in front of your head -- overhead -- and position your hands a couple of inches apart with your palms down. An alternate hand position is about shoulder-width apart. Keep a slight bend in your elbows.

  • Tighten your core muscles and, without changing the position of your feet or hands, push down with your arms and hands to raise your body off the mat. Keep your body as straight as possible. Lower back to the mat and repeat as many times as you can.

Inverted "V" Version

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, bend over, put your hands on the mat in front of your feet and walk your hands forward about five steps. An alternate stance is with your heels touching. Slide your hands together, spread your fingers and form a diamond by making your index fingers and thumbs touch.

  • Lift your heels off the floor and straighten your legs, arms and back so that your body is in an inverted "V" position -- a 90-degree angle. This is the starting position.

  • Inhale, bend only your elbows and lower your head as close as you can to the diamond formed by your fingers and thumbs. When you bend your elbows, point them slightly backward and avoid flaring them out to the sides.

  • Exhale and push with your arms back to the "V" position and repeat. Keep your legs and back as straight as possible throughout.

Dive Bomber Version

  • Assume a pike starting position similar to the inverted "V" version of the push-up. The main differences being that your feet and hands are slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and your fingers point forward.

  • Bend your elbows and lower your head toward the floor. When it gets a few inches from the floor, drop your chest toward the floor in a swooping motion. Lead with your head as if you are trying to slide underneath a fence. Shift your weight onto your hands, straighten your arms, arch your back and look up.

  • Reverse your movements to lower your chest and head back toward the floor. Push through your arms and shoulders, return to the pike starting position and repeat.

Tips & Warnings

  • Because Chinese push-ups are very challenging, start off with low reps and one set. The number of reps you choose will depend on your strength level. As you improve your strength and technique, gradually increase the number of reps and total sets.
  • Before attempting any version, perform several dynamic activities to warm up, prepare your body and avoid the risk of injury.
  • This exercise places a lot of demands on your body, so if have any chronic health concerns, consult your doctor before doing Chinese push-ups.

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  • Photo Credit Kris Butler/Hemera/Getty Images
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