Looking to spice up your workout with some alphabetical creativity? Why not try exercises that all start with the letter “P”?
Targeting different muscle groups and requiring minimal to no equipment, these exercises are not just a fun way to organize your routine; they’re also a solid strategy for a full-body workout.
Keep on reading, because it’s about time you pushed your limits with some powerful “P” workouts.
Table of Contents
Push ups are a classic, no-equipment-required move famous for building strength in your chest, shoulders, triceps, and even your core.
Let’s break down the basic form to ensure you’re getting the most out of this powerful exercise:
How to perform it:
- Start Position: Place your hands on the ground, slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Keep your feet together and body in a straight line.
- Movement: Engage your core and keep your back flat as you lower your body, aiming to get your chest as close to the ground as possible without touching.
- End Position: Push back up to the start position, fully extending your arms and squeezing your chest.
- Chest (pectoralis major)
- Shoulders (deltoids)
- Core (abdominals)
- Back (specifically the erector spinae)
Doing pushups regularly can increase your upper body strength, enhance muscle definition, and even boost your cardiovascular fitness.
Feeling like a pro or just starting? Pushup variations can match any fitness level:
- Beginner: Wall pushups or knee push ups
- Intermediate: Standard push ups
- Advanced: Decline pushups or single-leg pushups
It’s your standard push-up’s more explosive cousin, designed to pump up the speed and power of your workout.
While a regular push-up strengthens your upper body with a steady up-and-down motion, the plyo-pushup adds an exciting twist.
You’re going to push off the ground with enough force to lift your hands up, and then land back into the starting position. Think of it as a push-up that ends in a mini-flight.
Here’s how to get this move right:
- Start in a plank position with your hands placed firmly on the ground, shoulder-width apart. Your body should form a straight line from your shoulders to your heels—it’s all about that form!
- Lower your body down, keeping your elbows close to your sides.
- Now comes the fun part. Explosively push yourself up until your hands leave the ground. For a real challenge, can you clap in mid-air before you land?
- Land softly to protect your wrists and get ready for the next rep. Remember, it’s not just about strength, but also control and technique.
- Chest (Pecs for power!)
- Shoulders (They’ll thank you later.)
- Triceps (Hello, arm definition.)
- Abs (Every lift-off needs a strong core!)
- Back (Yes, they’re working hard, too!)
Why jump into plyo-pushups? They crank up your heart rate, which can help burn fat while improving your athletic performance. Each explosive push is a step to increasing your overall strength.
3. Passive Bar Hang
Ever tried just hanging around? The Passive Bar Hang isn’t just about doing nothing though! This exercise is the chill sibling of the active hang.
While an active hang has you engaging all your muscles, passive hanging is all about letting go. Think of it as giving your body a mini vacation.
How do you hang passively:
Find a sturdy bar, grip it with both hands using an overhand position, and simply let your body hang with your feet off the ground.
No pull-ups, no swinging – just a calm, quiet hang with gravity as your only companion.
Let your muscles relax; this isn’t a test of strength but one of surrender.
The muscles getting a light workout here include:
- Grip Strength: Holding onto the bar trains your hand grip.
- Forearms: They support your grip and are involved as stabilizers.
- Shoulders & Lats (Latissimus Dorsi): They get a nice stretch, promoting flexibility.
- Spine: Hanging allows the vertebrae to stretch and decompress, very beneficial for your back.
Not only does this exercise improve your grip and decompress your spine, but it also fosters better posture and increases mobility and flexibility in the upper body.
Think of it as your non-intense, yet surprisingly beneficial, upper-body tool.
Ever found yourself staring at that high bar at the gym, wondering how that simple-looking move can be so tough?
That’s the pull-ups for you—a true test of upper body strength and one heck of a show of back muscles in action!
So, what’s a pull-up, and how is it different from its close cousin, the chin-up?
While both are stellar for sculpting your physique, the pull-up particularly challenges your lats and requires you to grip the bar with your palms facing away from you, compared to the chin-up where your palms face towards you.
Let’s break down the form for a perfect pull-up:
- Grip the bar firmly with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
- Hang with straight arms, engaging your core and keeping your legs straight or slightly bent to avoid swinging.
- Pull your body up by driving your elbows down towards your hips, aiming to bring your chest to the bar.
- Squeeze those shoulder blades together, as if you’re trying to hold a pencil between them—yup, right at that mid-back!
- At the top of the move, your chin should be over the bar, but hey, let’s not strain that neck.
- Lower down to the starting position in a controlled manner. No sudden drops.
Now, onto the muscles, you’re befriending during this move:
- Lats (latissimus dorsi)—the broad muscles of your back
- Biceps—your gun show muscles
- Traps (trapezius)—think the upper back and neck area
- Rear Delts (posterior deltoids)—the back of your shoulders
- Abs (abdominals)—yes, your six-pack gets in on the action too!
Why bother with pull-ups, you ask? They’re fantastic for building not just strength but also endurance and muscle mass.
Your entire upper body including your back muscles, biceps, and yes, even those elusive lats, get a workout.
Plus, they contribute to an impressive posture and stability—who doesn’t want to stand tall and confident?
5. Pistol squat
The pistol squat stands as a potent exercise for enhancing your lower body strength and stability. Mastering this move will catapult your unilateral strength to new heights.
Begin by standing on one leg, extending the other leg in front of you. Lower yourself down slowly, keeping your extended leg straight, until your thigh is parallel to the ground.
Concentrate on maintaining a tight core and a straight back throughout the movement.
Push through the heel of your standing foot to rise up to the starting position.
This exercise boosts hip flexion and extension capability, which are essential for many daily movements and athletic activities.
Developing proficiency in pistol squats can significantly improve motor control and balance.
Eccentric exercise like this one can lead to performance enhancements across various sports and activities.
Incorporate progression exercises such as assisted pistol squats or box pistols before attempting the full version.
Pistol squats offer benefits similar to those of weighted squats but require no equipment—ideal for home workouts or when traveling.
For advanced practitioners, adding weight can increase resistance and build muscle more effectively.
This is a powerhouse exercise that targets more than just your abs. It’s not like a crunch, which has you curling up and down; the plank is about maintaining a rock-solid hold.
This isometric exercise boosts your core strength without the up-and-down motion of crunches, and is kinder on your back, too!
How to Nail the Perfect Plank:
- Get down on all fours, forearms on the ground.
- Extend your legs out, come up onto your toes.
- Keep your body in a straight line from head to heels.
- Engage your core by sucking your belly button into your spine.
- Make sure your hips aren’t sagging or piking up.
- Hold this position, focusing on form over time
- Lower back
- Glutes and quads
Planks are a base exercise for a fortified core, beyond providing a firmer tummy, it lays the foundation for an array of exercises.
From squats that sculpt those thighs and glutes, to lunges that challenge your balance and strengthen your lower body.
7. Pigeon Pose
This exercise is a staple in yoga practices and the key to relaxation and a deep hip stretch.
Unlike the butterfly pose, where your feet are together and knees fall outward, Pigeon Pose provides a more intense stretch by folding one leg in front of your body while the other extends behind you.
Here’s how to ease into Pigeon Pose:
- Start in a tabletop position on your hands and knees.
- Gently bring your right knee forward and place it behind your right wrist.
- Lower your right ankle to the floor, aiming for it to be in front of your left hip.
- Extend your left leg back, keeping your hips square to the front of your mat.
- Inhale deeply, then exhale as you lean forward over your right leg, finding a comfortable stretch.
- Hold this position for 5-10 breaths, then switch sides.
- Hip flexors
8. Push Press
The push press stands out as a dynamic strength-building movement. It combines the force of your legs with an explosive upper-body motion to press weights overhead.
While in a shoulder press you’d typically stand still and press the weight purely with upper body strength, the push press infuses a bit of leg power into the mix.
Here’s how to do a push press:
- Begin by standing with feet shoulder – width apart, holding a barbell at shoulder level.
- Dip down slightly by bending your knees, keeping your torso upright and core engaged.
- Explosively extend your legs, driving through your heels to press the barbell straight up overhead.
- Make sure to lock out your arms at the top of the movement while maintaining a tight core for stability.
- Lower the bar back to shoulder level with control, setting yourself up for the next rep.
Your muscles worked include:
- Shoulders (deltoids)
- Arms (triceps)
- Legs (quads)
9. Pallof press
Unlike a chest press, which mainly targets the chest muscles, the Pallof press is a beast at resisting rotational forces, making your core work overtime to keep your body stable.
How to do it:
- Stand or kneel sideways to your resistance band or cable machine.
- Grab the handle with both hands and pull it towards your chest, maintaining a stiff posture.
- Engage your core as if you’re bracing for a punch, keeping your hips squared.
- Now, here comes the fun part – extend your arms forward, and resist the urge to rotate towards the machine. Keep your arms straight and your movements controlled.
Muscles getting a workout:
- Abs and obliques
- Lower back
By incorporating the pallof press into your routine, you’re not just building a core of steel; you’re setting the foundation for a healthier, more resilient you. Give it a shot, and watch your strength, stability, and posture soar.
10. Preacher curls
After discussing the core-strengthening Pallof press, let’s shift our focus to the biceps with preacher curls.
This exercise is a staple in arm training, specifically honing in on your upper arm muscles for that sculpted look.
You’ll use a specialized bench that supports your upper arms; this setup increases tension on the biceps.
Preacher curls are performed by lifting a barbell or dumbbells from an elbow – flexed position up toward your shoulders and then lowering back down.
They isolate the biceps because they move through just one joint, making them an effective muscle – building exercise.
When doing preacher curls, make sure to maintain proper form to prevent forearm pain which might signal tendinitis.
To add variety to your routine, try related exercises like one – arm dumbbell preacher curls or machine bicep curls.
- Biceps Brachii
Research has examined how performing preacher curls with maximal force affects muscle response when fully contracted.
This strength training mainstay engages the biceps brachii muscle intensely due to its angle of resistance and elbow flexion.
Pilates is a meticulous practice aimed at strengthening your muscles, with a heavy emphasis on your body’s powerhouse—your core.
Unlike the more static poses of yoga, Pilates is all about controlled movements that improve physical strength, posture, and flexibility.
It’s like a chat between your mind and body, focusing on the flow, precision, and breathing.
What’s the drill with Pilates, you ask? It’s all about technique and form. Picture this: every movement is like writing an invisible letter with your body, except you do it with finesse.
Here, breathing isn’t just an involuntary reflex; it’s an art that helps you control your movements.
Remember, it’s the quality of motion that trumps quantity. Now, align those shoulders, straighten that spine, and let’s dive in!
So, which muscles get the VIP treatment in Pilates? Here’s a quick look:
- Core muscles: Embrace the burn because that’s your abdominals shaping up.
- Pelvic floor: This group of muscles is getting all the attention it rarely does.
- Back muscles: Strengthening them helps you ditch that slouch.
- Hips: They are the silent heroes ensuring balance and stability.
12. Plie Squats
Have you ever tried a plie squat? It’s like the regular squat’s elegant cousin!
Unlike the classic squat, where your feet are about hip-width apart, plie squats are all about that turnout.
First off, your stance should be wider than usual, think about two to three times shoulder width. Now, turn your toes out—aim for a 45-degree angle or whatever feels natural.
Ready to go deeper? Dip it low! Keep your back straight and lower those hips below the knees—it’s not just about bending them but also about keeping your form in check.
Muscles worked in a plie squat:
- Inner thighs
Doing plie squats, you’re not just getting ready for the dance floor, you’re toning your lower body and making your glutes work overtime.
Plus, you’re giving your hips some love by improving their mobility and stability.
13. Plank Jacks
Have you tried adding a dynamic twist to your planks? Plank jacks are where the stability of planks meets the energy of jumping jacks!
Unlike the vertical jumping movement of traditional jacks, plank jacks maintain a horizontal plank position while working your body’s endurance.
Here’s how to do it:
- Start in a standard plank—the foundation of this exercise. Your arms should be straightened, hands aligned under shoulders, and toes set on the floor.
- Engage your core; it’s the star of the show. Imagine drawing your belly button towards the spine.
- While keeping your back flat and your hips stable, jump your feet out to the sides, just as you would in a jumping jack.
- Now, jump them back in, returning to your initial plank position.
Feeling the burn? That’s your powerhouse muscles—abs, obliques, lower back, glutes, quads, and calves—firing up.
14. Pike Push-Ups
Pike push-ups is a variant that shifts the workout focus towards your shoulders and upper body strength.
Unlike the classic push-up, which targets your chest, a pike push-up turns the move into an overhead press, providing a fresh challenge for those strength milestones.
What makes a pike push-up unique?
Imagine transforming your body into an upside-down ‘V’. You position your hips high, and dive your head downwards. It isn’t just about looking like a mountain peak; this form puts your shoulders to serious work as they fight gravity, pushing you back up.
Here’s how to perform a pike push-up safely and effectively:
- Start in a classic push-up position.
- Walk your feet towards your hands, raising your hips so your body forms an inverted ‘V’.
- Keep your feet hip-width apart, and hands shoulder-width apart.
- Bend your elbows and lower your head towards the ground.
- Push through your shoulders and arms, returning to the starting position.
Muscles engaged during pike push-ups:
- Upper Back
- Core muscles for stability
15. Plyometric Lunges
Plyometric lunges are a dynamic addition to your workout, aiming to boost your lower body strength and enhance athletic performance.
They’re not just regular lunges; they pack a punch with every explosive jump.
Here’s how you do it:
- Start in a standard lunge position, with one foot forward, both knees at 90 degrees.
- Engage your core, keep your torso tall, and let’s add some air! Explosively jump up.
- Mid-air, switch your legs, bringing the rear leg forward and the front leg back.
- Land softly back into the lunge position. That’s one rep!
Muscles getting a workout:
- Quads and glutes power the jump.
- Hamstrings help with the control during the switch.
- Calves provide that spring in your step.
- Core keeps you stable throughout the move.
Why include them in your routine? Plyometric lunges are a serious game-changer for building strength and endurance in your lower body.
Plus, they can rev up your cardio session in no time. You’ll improve not just power, but also coordination and balance—key players in athletic performance.
16. Parallel Bar Dips
Parallel bar dips take your tricep workout to the next level. This upper body exercise engages multiple muscles for a comprehensive strength-building session.
The key here is the positioning of your arms and the engagement of not just your triceps but your entire upper body.
Engage your arms and shoulders as you lift your body weight on the parallel bars.
Keep your torso upright to fully activate your chest muscles during each dip.
Concentrate on controlled movements to avoid straining the shoulder joints.
Aim for a full range of motion, lowering until your shoulders are slightly below your elbows.
Maintain proper form by avoiding swinging or using momentum to complete repetitions.
Experiment with different grip widths to target various muscle groups effectively.
You can include this exercise in your routine to build a solid foundation for arm strength and muscle development.
Advance gradually from bench dips to dip station variations before tackling parallel bar dips.
Ready to ramp up your workout with a twist? These 16 powerhouse exercises all starting with ‘P’ are not just about adding variety; they’re designed to push your limits in strength, flexibility, and endurance.
Imagine mastering moves like the Pilates roll-up or powering through plyometric lunges—each one brings you closer to crushing your fitness goals.
Why not challenge yourself today by trying out a few?
Remember, every rep takes you one step further on your path to peak physical prowess!