Improve The Move! Power Up Your Push-Ups with 15 Variations

By Nicole Glor of NikkiFitness

I’ve written about improving your push-up power for beginners, and about my 100 push-up boot camp, but what if you want to break the mold and try some new tricks for the pecs? In honor of my intense Slimnastics workout book coming out this June, I wanted to share with you my favorite variations on the amazing arm toner move we all love (and love to hate).

1-Old Fashioned: the traditional move with arms wider than shoulder distance, so that when you lower, your elbows stack over the wrists

2-Traveling Push-Up: do the old fashioned, but after the first one, come back to plank, and cross the right hand over the left and then open the left up so that you have traveled a few feet to the left. Do a push-up here. Then cross the hands again and push-up at center. Cross again farther to the right and do a push-up, then cross the hands and push-up in the center. Repeat to the left, center, right and center.

3-Triceps Push-Up: same as the old fashioned, but put the hands much closer lined up under the shoulders and hug your elbows to your rips as you lower down. This will work the triceps and shoulders more.

4-Alternating Push-up:

5-Push-up Row: do a push-up with your hands on two heavy weights. At the top of the move, when at plank, lift the right weight off the floor and raise the right elbow to the sky (a row). Put the weight down and repeat on the left, then perform another push-up and repeat.

6-Side Step Push-Up: get into plank with your right hand on top of a step or a block. Do 20-30 push-ups here, then repeat with the other hand on the higher surface.

7-Spiderman Push-up: do a push-up but on the way down, pull your right knee toward your right shoulder (same side). Press back up and repeat on the left. This also works the obliques.

8- Knee Twist Push-up: Working the other set of obliques, you do a push-up and then twist your right knee toward the opposite (left) elbow. Push-up and repeat with the left knee toward the right elbow.

9-Diamond Push-up: put your hands together under your heart to form the shape of a diamond. These are hard as diamonds!

10- Push-Up Side Plank: do a push-up, then a side plank, balancing on your right hand, then push-up and plank on the left. Repeat.

11- Push-Up with Glute Raise: do a push-up balanced on the right toe, with the left leg lifted (keeping the knee straight) and pulse it once at the top of the move. Switch to balance on the left toe, do a push-up then pulse up the right leg up.

12-Incline Push-Up: do an old fashioned with your upper body elevated on a step, bench or stability ball.

13-Decline Push-Up: do an old fashioned with your legs elevated on a bench or a stability ball.

14-Down Dog Push-Up: Place your hands slightly wider than shoulder width in plank. Lift your hips up to the sky so your body forms and inverted V (like the yoga pose) with head between the elbows and your gaze on your knees. Bend the elbows so that the crown of the head almost touches the floor and return to down dog. This move with work the tops of the delts (shoudlers) more.

15-Airplane Push-Up: Do a traditional push-up but lower all the way to the ground and then extend the arms out to the sides so your body forms the letter “T.” Lift your head, shoulders, hands, knees and feet off the ground, balancing on your belly. Lower back down to the floor and place the hands under the shoulders to return to a push-up plank. This works the upper and lower back more to balance out the pecs.

It is critical to balance out your muscles and work the opposing group – your trapezius and rhomboids muscles in your upper back with this last airplane move, and also dead rows, reverse flys, and machines. Some great hard core yoga poses like the wheel, wheel push-ups, forearm stand and handstand will work the opposing muscle groups. For my upper back moves, email

Fitness – fit it in with power. Nikki

Attract Love, Protect Your Heart with Yoga Heart-​​Opening Posses

In honor of February as heart health month and Valentine’s Day, I’ve created a yoga flow with poses to protect your heart and attract love into your life.

Often our posture and inner emotional state give off vibes that propel love and opportunity away – we seem emotionally or physically closed off. This practice will help to reverse that and bring love of self and the love of others, while improving cardiovascular health because of increased heart rate during practice, while increasing relaxation and reduced stress come with the full repetitive yoga breathing and greater lung function.

Yoga practice and it’s breathing, holding poses, flowing vinyasas, mediation, imagery and focus have been proven to:

–make you feel more in control

–increase feelings of positive mood

–better posture

–make you breathe easier, not shallow

–increases the body’s ability to respond to stress more flexibly

–provide better body image

–increase more thoughtful eating habits, caring what you put into your body

–allow you to appreciate the now and live in the moment

–facilitates deep relaxation and helps practitioners sleep better

–detachment from negative situations

–provide strength, flexibility and better blood flow, helping your love life in the bedroom

Poses: cobra, upward facing dog, camel, triangle, fish, chest expansion, wheel, bridge, yoga mudras like lotus, savasana with block under shoulders.

The series:

Begin your practice with your hands cupped in yoga lotus mudra. Breathe deeply and focus the mind. Begin having an affair with your closest soul mate, yourself. Think of the ways that love and happiness exist in your life. Be grateful for them. Make the shift from looking only externally for love, and begin treating yourself like the love of your life, you’ll find your heart more open, feel more forgiving with yourself, and become more available to love others. You become stronger and more independent, more able to attract healthy real love. You look at love from others as a gift, but not something that your life depends on. Other’s choices won’t affect you as powerfully because you already have everything you need.

Open your eyes and begin sun salutations with chest expansion in mountain. After forward fold, chest expansion lunge, down dog and plank, lower to the mat for a heart opening cobra pose, later in the series it will be come upward facing dog, and other heart opener. These poses can go deep into the chest cavity to expose your heart and emotional, authentic self that you might not show to others. Move back to down dog, lunge, and open the heart with arms wide, on the opposing leg. Forward fold and then end in mountain with hands in prayer at heart center.

Next find camel’s pose with hands behind you below belt level and open through the chest into an upper back bend for several breaths. Forward fold to counter-​​stretch. Flow into a few warriors and then go into triangle and open the chest with the top hand spiraling open to the sky. As you open the space in your heart, you infuse your body and mind with loving thoughts, carrying that throughout your day.

After warriors and triangle on the other side, practice a standing posture like dancer, to bring joy into your life.

Next come to the floor for shoulderstand and heart-​​opening fish, as well as bridge and wheel.

End in savasana over a block (place it under your shoulder blades and rest the head back on a blanket). Either bend the knees or open the legs into bound angle. Focus on receiving the benefits from your practice. Through heart opening yoga poses, you practice giving your mind, body and soul the love it needs. This invites love to come to you from the outside. Happy Valentines Day. Namaste.

Fitness — fit it in this February.- Nikki

Anti-​​Aging Workouts!

Everyone wants to stay as young and healthy as they can be for as long as they can, and these days there is no excuse. There are many options online, in the gym, at home and outside for working out your body, mind, face and emotions. Countless studies show that keeping a positive outlook, a busy social calendar, and an active body will help keep you out of the hospital and in great shape, no matter what your age.

Your first course of action is to present some fitness ideas to your doctor and get his/​her advice.

Here is my SENIOR prescription for staying in great shape even late in life.

S — stretching workouts like Yoga help with balance (reduce falls), detox and ease constipation.reduce body fat, lower blood pressure, help you sleep better, help with functional moves we do in our daily lives, and help your posture. inversions in yoga help blood flow and lessen wrinkles, as long as your doctor approves moves that are inversions. Try YogaFit Seniors DVDs at www​.yogafit​.com

E — Exercise your face! Facial exercises help with sagging skin, a double chin, drooping eyes and wrinkles in the forehead, while plumping the cheeks. Google workouts for neck, eyes, forehead, cheeks and jaw, for the many online classes, books and instructional routines.

N — Nightclubing! Instead of waiting in line with a bunch of 20 year olds waiting to go deaf with a loud DJ, opt for a night out of dancing. Find a supper club, a jazz bar, flamenco performance, or a dance school. There are also many dance classes in fitness centers where you can try Zumba and other styles. Dancing helps with balance, coordination, builds strong bones, posture and confidence.

I — In the pool. Swimming is great for non-​​impact when you have arthritis, and it tones the arms, core, back and legs. Your building, a local Y, or fitness center can give you free swim hours or sign you up for a water aerobics class. My advice is practice at home, then go on vacation somewhere you can swim in the water under some palm trees.

O — Outside walking with friends, your pet, your spouse, your grandkids helps prevent dementia and weight gain and increases endurance whether you are just starting out or recovering from an illness or surgery. Start slow and build from there. Work up to jogging and cycling for memory, endurance, cardiovascular health, fat loss, emotional pick me up and better sleep. Studies show that fresh air workouts boost your mood even more than working out indoors.

Resistance — Leg workout like wall-​​assisted lunges and squats over a chair, as well as standing calf raises for circulation, reduced swelling, and better tone/​strength. Weight lifting to fight Osteoporosis, a curved spine, fractures, broken bones, and falls. 90 minutes a week total is all you need to help with balance, functional tasks and coordination. Use free weights or your own body weight for arm and leg workouts that increases muscle mass, boost metabolism, and burn more calories than non-​​resistance workouts. You will look more toned and feel younger before you know it.

Fitness — fit it in for anti-​​aging! Nikki