The classic push-up is done with your hands and feet on the floor, but you can make it easier by raising one end of your body or the other. Wall push-ups are the easiest option, and are a great place to start if you’re totally new to the exercise. On the other end of the spectrum, if you are a beast, you may be able to do handstand push-ups.
So let’s do a little progression with stairs. Find a staircase with some flat space at the bottom. Outdoor stairs in a park or plaza might work well, or just the stairs in your house. Then try this:
- Stand on the ground and put your hands on the highest stair where you can comfortably do a push-up. (For me, that’s the fourth step from the bottom.) Do a rep here.
- Take a step back, and put your hands on the next step (third from the bottom, in our example) and do a push-up here.
- Continue until you reach the ground, and do one regular push-up.
Stop wherever you can’t keep good form. If you can’t do a full push-up on the ground, you might be able to do the fourth, third, and second steps. Great! Go back to the beginning of the sequence and do two reps per step, then three, and so on until you get tired or bored.
If that was easy, keep going! After your regular push-up, turn around and put your feet on the first step. Do a feet-elevated push-up. Now put your feet on the second step, and work your way up.
How to feel comfortable doing stair push-ups
When your hands are on the stairs, you’ll probably find yourself pushing against the corner of the step. If this hurts your hands, use some padding—your sweat towel is perfect.
When your feet are on the stairs, you have two options for how to do the push-up. You can try to mimic the movement of a regular push-up, keeping your body flat as a plank and bringing your chest almost to the ground. (Your nose will touch before your chest does.) Or you can pike your butt up in the air, so that your upper body is vertical and doing what’s basically a handstand push-up minus the weight of your legs. Choose whichever feels best to you; they’re different exercises but both are good.
Finally, if the push-up movement is awkward or if you just want a change of pace, try holding a plank position on each step. Just like with push-ups, hands-elevated planks will be easier on your upper body and feet-elevated will be tougher. Enjoy, and tell us how it goes!