Performing numerous conventional Push-Ups on a flat surface often measures upper-body strength and muscle endurance for physical education classes, military or law enforcement exams. They also function as an upper-body dynamic warm-up preceding workouts, practices and games.
This article, however, literally takes regular Push-Ups to a higher level (and heightening the intensity level!) when done up and down stairs, bleachers, or hilly terrain. Minimal equipment is required and the exercises are conveniently done indoors or outdoors. Bonus: The various ascending/descending Push-Ups challenge gravity and core stability, and effectively enhance total-body strength, endurance, power, and flexibility – all key sports performance assets – as your arms and legs are moving after each rep of every exercise!
- Do a dynamic upper- and lower-body warm-up (e.g., Arm Circles/Lunges).
- Finish with cool-down upper- and lower-body static stretches for greater flexibility and range of motion.
- Hydrate before, during and after workouts.
- Each exercise is either timed or dictated by the number of stairs or bleachers, for example, or repetitions if performed up and down a hill. Test your strength and endurance and try reaching the top of a long flight of stairs, bleachers or hilltop with each Push-Up, for instance.
- Choose five of the Push-Up exercises listed below in any sequence per workout.
- Allow 24-48 hours for adequate recovery between workouts.
- Sets: 2
- Rest: 30-60 seconds between sets; 60 seconds between each exercise.
- Keep your back straight without sagging and tighten your stomach during each Push-Up to effectively engage upper body and core muscles.
Start at the base of a hill or stairs in the Push-Up position with your hands shoulder-width apart. Do a Push-Up and bring your feet as close to your hands has possible. Walk your hands forward to the next step (or steps) extending your body to the Push-Up position. Continue climbing with Push-Ups and Inchworms until reaching the top. An excellent flexibility, strength and size boosting exercise combination.
Start at the top of the hill/stairs (facing uphill) with your hands close together in the Push-Up position targeting the triceps. Do a Push-Up and continue backing down the incline step by step with Push-Ups and resisting gravity until reaching the bottom.
Staggered Ascending & Backward Staggered Push-Ups
Start at the base of the incline in the Push-Up position with the hands shoulder-width apart, place one hand ahead of the other (e.g., on the next step or bleacher) and do a Push-Up. Continue alternating hand positions and repeating Push-Ups until half way up the stairs/bleachers or hill. Without rest and still facing upward, do the Staggered Push-Ups in reverse back down to the bottom. These types of Push-Ups are especially demanding on the arms and shoulders. Leg and core muscles are also involved. Done non-stop up and down the incline, total-body endurance is also maximized.
Be careful resisting gravity with these difficult movements while facing downward with your feet on the top step (or hilltop) in the Push-Up position. Do one Push-Up on each step during the descent to the bottom.
Timed Incline & Reverse Push-Ups
Set the timer to complete all uphill and downhill (or up and down bleachers or stairs) Push-Ups within a fixed time frame (e.g. 45 seconds, 60 seconds, 90 seconds) determined by the number of steps or steepness of a hill. You’re doing one Push-Up facing up hill per step until reaching the top and then continuing facing uphill but doing Push-Ups in reverse toward the bottom.
Explosive Incline Push-Ups
Attempt reaching the top of the stairs or hill doing an explosive Push-Up (the hands are airborne when pushing off each step or when advancing up the hill) – promoting upper-body power.
Holding-Rep Decline Push-Ups
Place your feet on the top step or hill- top facing downward in the Push-Up position and pause five seconds with the arms slightly bent after performing each Push-Up while proceeding downhill or down the stairs.
Slow-Rep Incline Push-Ups
From the Push-Up position facing uphill, lower yourself in five seconds and press up in five seconds – continuing the same rep tempo on each step (or scaling a hill).
Single-Leg Incline Push-Ups
Keep one leg airborne while doing the Push-Up on each step or uphill optimizing core stability.