How To Do The Dolphin Push Up Properly

If you are looking for a core exercise that is as effective as the crunch, then you should consider trying the dolphin push up.

This popular movement is a push up variation commonly incorporated in flow yoga sequences but also in full body workouts and core workouts.

Required equipment: Yoga mat (optional)

Steps:

  • Get on all fours with your forearms down on the floor.
  • Move the forearms into a “V” position and interlace your fingers as if you are preparing for a headstand. You are free to leave your hands separate if you don’t feel comfortable interlacing your fingers.
  • Push your torso forward so that your face is directly over your hands. Make sure you are inhaling through this step.
  • Assume a forearm plank position, with your body straight, your hands clasped and your elbows lined up directly under your shoulders.
  • Push your hips up towards the ceiling, as you exhale. This is a complete rep.
  • Do at least 10 reps for a start.

When you are done with your set, you can come down and get into the child’s pose to rest your muscles.

WHAT MUSCLES DOES THE DOLPHIN PUSH UP WORK?

This exercise works your legs, arms and core muscles, which work together to stabilize your body as your perform the movement.

The dolphin push up also stretches your shoulders, calves, hamstrings and feet.

DOLPHIN PUSH UP BENEFITS

CORE STRENGTH

When you are executing the dolphin push up, you use the muscles in your core to stabilize your torso so that you don’t lose your balance and fall.

This way, you isolate and strengthen your core muscles, which in turn help improve your posture.

COMPOUND EXERCISE

This exercise works multiple muscles and joints both in your upper and lower body, including your shoulder joints and muscles, core, hamstrings, and calves among many others.

ENHANCES FLEXIBILITY

The dolphin push up is often done to prep for headstands, forearm stands and handstands to help build up enough flexibility that will enable you draw up your legs.

STRETCHES YOUR MUSCLES

Aside from the strength gains you’ll get from this exercise, it also gives you a chance to extensively stretch the muscles on your shoulders, legs, hamstrings, calves and even the areas around your spine.

CAN BE EASILY MODIFIED

You can easily modify the dolphin push up to make it easier or more challenging.

If you feel like you want to start off gently, you can drop down into your knees so that you don’t have to strain your forearms.

Likewise, if you want a challenge, you can lift one leg at a time to deepen the stretch.

ALTERNATIVES TO THE DOLPHIN PUSH UP

SINGLE ARM DUMBBELL CHEST PRESS

The single arm dumbbell chest press helps correct muscle imbalances and build muscular endurance while putting minimal stress on your wrists.

Additionally, it is done in a supported position, which helps improve hip, core and shoulder stability.

It works your triceps, glutes, core, shoulder stabilizes and pectorals.

How to do it:

  • Lie on a bench with your neck, head and left shoulder supported.
  • Press both feet firmly into the floor.
  • Position your right shoulder in such a way that it is slightly off the bench.
  • Hold a dumbbell in your right hand, close to the chest.
  • Extend your arm above your chest.
  • Pause for a few seconds before you slowly lower your hand to the starting position.
  • Repeat these steps on the opposite side.
  • Do 2-5 seats of 4-12 reps each.

TRADITIONAL BENCH PRESS

The traditional bench press helps improve your muscular endurance and build upper body strength with very little strain on your wrists.

It works your triceps, trapezius, pectorals and anterior deltoids.

How to do it:

  • Lie flat on your back on a workout bench.
  • Press your feet into the floor.
  • Press your back and hips onto the bench (and keep them in that position throughout the exercise).
  • Using an overhand grip, hold the bar with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
  • Lift the bar off the stand and lower it slowly until it is above your nipple line.
  • Hold this position for a few seconds.
  • Extend your arms as far as you can go as you keep your elbows slightly bent.
  • Do 3-4 sets of 5-10 reps each.

STANDING DUMBBELL ROTATIONAL PUNCHES

This movement improves your agility, balance and cardiovascular endurance while strengthening and toning your shoulders, torso and arms.

It works your core, triceps, shoulders and the latissimus dorsi on your back.

It is great alternative if you have wrist pain.

To make it less challenging, you can do it without weights until you have properly mastered the form.

How to do it:

  • Stand straight with your feet shoulder-width apart or slightly wider.
  • Hold a dumbbell in each hand at about chest height.
  • Pivot your left foot and then rotate your torso to the right side.
  • Extend your left hand to the right side.
  • Return to the starting position with the dumbbells at chest height.
  • Repeat the steps on the opposite side.
  • Do 2-3 sets of 10-20 reps.

DOLPHIN PUSH UP MISTAKES TO AVOID

DROPPING OR ROLLING THE SHOULDERS FORWARD

Most people tend to roll or drop the shoulders forward as they shift into the push-up portion of the exercise.

If you notice your shoulders moving a bit too far past your elbows, that may be a sign that you are straining your shoulder muscles.

Try to keep your shoulders stacked over the elbows to prevent them from strain or injury.

ARCHING THE SPINE AND SAGGING YOUR HIPS

Arching your spine or sagging your hips can be a sign of a weak core and an inability to stabilize your core in a dynamic exercise.

It is okay for the spine to arch a little bit, but don’t let your hips sag too much as this will interfere with your core engagement.

FINAL WORD

If you are suffering from wrist, shoulder or back pain, this exercise might not be for you, as it puts a lot of strain in those areas.

Note that this movement involves an inversion and it would not be ideal for people with high blood pressure, eye infections or inner ear problems.

Don’t forget that you can always modify the basic dolphin push up to find a variation that works best for you.