Pushups at any level work entire upper body

LOS ANGELES "You don't need a gym. All you need is a floor and a body, and you are good to go," said gym owner Michelle Dozois of /*Breakthru Fitness*/.

Dozois wants clients to use equipment and machines, but she knows being able to utilize your own body weight is an effective way to get fit.

A woman's center of gravity is below the belt, right at the hips, so upper body exercises are hard to do. The solution is pushups.

"I wound up teaching my mom who had had breast cancer and reconstructive surgery, and she wanted to get herself back," Dozois said. "She was in her 60s, and she had never done a push up in her life."

Dozois says if you have to start slightly less than vertical and work your way down, that's OK. From aging baby boomers to those post surgery, there is a way to target that upper body with a modified pushup.

You can use a tabletop or a bench, or even start against the wall. Then inch your way toward the ground and build from there.

Rather than worry about sets and repetitions, see how many you can do in the easiest position.

"Once you can do 10 in that position, it's time to move on to the next," Dozois said.

When on hands and knees, aim for tucking the seat under so your body looks like a slant board. Then, you are ready for hands and toes.

If you are prone to wrist pain, try doing pushups with hands on dumbbells so the wrists stay in a neutral position and won't roll.

Finally, for those who have mastered those positions, it's time to challenge yourself even more.

"We can put our feet up on a bench behind us, you can put it on a stability ball and add challenge that way, even changing the positions of our hands can add a lot of work to it," Dozois said.

The work will pay off big time as there are so many muscles used well beyond the chest.

"You're also getting your shoulders, you're getting your triceps, your whole arm, you're working your core because there's balance and stability and then your back is actually assisting you as well, holding that body firm," Dozois said.

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