Ariana DeBose does pushups with her knees down: ‘There’s nothing wrong with that’

Ariana DeBose is on the cover of January’s Women’s Health. She looks amazing, as you can see. It’s nice that the interview isn’t focused on crazy restrictive diets and strenuous workouts as is typical for these articles at the beginning of the year. Ariana discusses her well being and how the pressures of winning her Oscar for Anita in West Side Story affected her. But she also talked about her workouts, especially since she’s playing Calypso in Marvel’s Kraven the Hunter. Again, Ariana isn’t killing herself to get in Marvel shape because she’s already fit. Plus, she hurt herself while on Broadway. So she focuses more on “maintaining” her body than sculpting it. She finds the best way to make exercises work for her. Like push-ups, which she does with her knees on the ground and says is fine as long as you engage your core. Me. She’s talking to me.

There’s a lot of pressure winning the Oscar: The moment was important to me and became very important to many communities, and I’m grateful for everything that has transpired, but it was a pressure cooker. I felt that every day, and now even in the aftermath, I still feel it. There have been times this year that I have been more lonely than ever.

She’s had to reexamine friendships: A big part of this life change was releasing shifty energy—cutting ties with folks who’ve shown a different side of themselves after she claimed her award. “Friendships have morphed,” she says. “It’s fascinating to see people want something different from you, like different access. I think people come into your life seasonally, and some seasons have come to a close. It’s a tough journey, but I believe in healthy boundaries. All of it is making me a better person, and a better artist.”

On her self care: “I can’t function if I haven’t slept properly,” she says. “I believe in recharging.” To get a “full reset” recently, Ariana and her best friend completed a wellness and health retreat in Italy at a place called The Ranch. “We hiked every day. I realized I thrive when I am close to nature, so now I prioritize being by the water.” Taking walks by the riverbank of the Danube, which is close to her temporary place in Budapest, “helps cleanse my energy, and I can hear my thoughts, and I move,” she says. “I have to move. If I don’t move, I am a raging terror.”

Her exercise routine: Dancing around her house to Beyoncé’s Renaissance album, Bette Midler’s greatest hits, the Gypsy Kings, or Celia Cruz is as key as getting her steps in while outside. “That makes me feel aligned,” she says of grooving. “That refills my spirit.” In addition to her therapeutic dance parties, Ariana works out at the gym three or four days a week doing a mix of intervals, including pushups (“Mind you, most of the time I do them with my knees down,” she says. “There’s nothing wrong with that as long as you engage your core!”), tricep dips, rows, and a variation of lunges targeting her glutes and inner thighs with 10- to 15-pound weights. After doing a few rounds of 10 reps per exercise, Ariana jumps on the elliptical for 30 to 40 minutes. Switching up which muscle group she targets during every workout helps her stay motivated. So does sticking with a set cycle of moves. “Give me a routine and I’m happy as a clam!

How she prepares for Calypso: She’d stretch in the morning while lying in bed to “get in tune with what was going on” with her. She also practiced yoga on-set and meditated for 10 minutes after lunch.

Figuring out how to nurture her well-being: “In the last year, I’ve gotten more acquainted with what my power is,” she says, adding that she feels a surge of pride in her progress when she’s able to “positively impact another person or community.” As a board member of Covenant House, Ariana helps to provide homeless and sexually trafficked youth with opportunities to rebuild their lives. “There’s power in showing up for someone else, advocating for them, and feeling like you’ve helped them get back on track,” she says. There is also serious power in showing up for yourself and facing novel challenges head-on.

[From Women’s Health]

Push-ups vex me – at least the way you’re ‘supposed’ to do them. So I appreciate anyone who justifies my knee-on-the-ground push-ups. I could do the the routine Ariana mentions above. I’d hate it, because I’m convinced lunges are retribution for unpunished crimes, but I could do it. And you know I love some dancing and grooving worked in to any exercise program. I like routines that apply to a variety of people. I also included the part about Ariana preparing for the Marvel role because she mentioned getting in tune with her body as she wakes up. Michelle Yeoh said something similar. I wake up and start whipping through my to-do list but maybe I need to refocus and start tuning into my body instead. Seriously, 2023 is my year of changes.

Which brings me to the rest of Ariana’s interview. I really related to Ariana’s wholeness approach. I want to change so much about my well-being this year and the physical is only part of it. So I paid close attention when Ariana talked about discovering her need to be near water. And reexamining the relationships that aren’t working for whatever reason. There’s just so much food for thought here.

Photo credit: Instagram and Cover Images

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13 Responses to “Ariana DeBose does pushups with her knees down: ‘There’s nothing wrong with that’”

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  1. SomeChick says:

    Ariana seems really cool and grounded.

    I always do some stretching in bed before I even sit up. at least tense and release. then I drink a big glass of water. then I start to worry about my to do list!

  2. Peachy says:

    She’s beautiful!

    As ex-military, push ups are bad for you. Just bad. You have to already be in very good shape for them to not be harmful to your back as they place a lot of stress on it. Find alternatives that are kinder as getting in shape does not have to be painful or dangerous.

    • manda says:

      thank you so much for that info on pushups! I can’t do pushups but I used to try every so often (I read a thing once that being able to do pushups was good for heart health) and then I would get horrible muscle tension headaches for days afterward. So I just stopped with that and try other things. I do need to find some exercises to strengthen my shoulders and back without that happening.

      • Peachy says:

        Very glad you stopped! Look for exercise programs or tips that emphasize impact free and have instructions on modified exercises. I personally love the exercise bands you can buy anywhere that sells sporting goods as the resistance is great and can do it at your own pace. If you can afford it/have insurance, physical therapy can teach you what to do for your problem areas and also deliver heat and massage for tight muscles l. If you cannot, look on utube or other places videos can be posted. I prefer to do my workouts on my own and not in a gym but those can also deliver professional advice. Back, arms and shoulder are my problem areas, too. Good luck! New year, new resolutions!

    • Deering24 says:

      I always felt uncomfortable doing pushups. Now I know why. Thanks, Peachy!

  3. Pam says:

    I agree with her. I used to do push-ups on my toes until I got some instruction and discovered I was doing them wrong! You’re supposed to have your arms at a 45-degree angle to your body (not the “T” shape you often see people do). Otherwise, you can kill your shoulders. Once I was doing them correctly, I couldn’t do them on my toes anymore. The instructor explained that it’s actually better to do them on your knees with the correct arm placement, to avoid injury—you can always eventually work up to doing them on your toes, if you want.

  4. Terri says:

    My son’s occupational therapist said long and lanky people should always do pushups with their knees down to engage the correct muscles.

    • AngryJayne says:

      I have really long arms and I’ve never found a comfortable modified pushup that’s agreed with me- and that makes a lot of sense. I’m definitely going to give that a try.
      Thanks for the tip!

    • luna says:

      HA! I knew it! Even when I was at my fittest (we’re talking martial arts competitions here) I had my troubles with push-ups and all of this confirms it! Seriously though, I love her, not just for the very true work out tips, but her social engagement and general outlook as well. What a role model.

  5. BeanieBean says:

    I’ve always done pushups from my knees. I may have tried from my toes way back in junior high PE class or something, but it’s too hard on my lower back. Never let somebody else tell you you’re doing it wrong if you do it from your knees. I think pushups as an exercise were invented by men for men, and it’s easier for them to do them from their toes because of physiological differences.
    I’ve been exercising about a half-hour a day, every morning, doing stretches & calisthenics & what I now know to be some yoga, for decades now. It’s just part of my morning routine. Ten of this, ten of that, including pushups from my knees.

  6. Emmy Rae says:

    When I was pregnant I started doing sit ups at an incline, starting against a wall and slowly going lower. I never did go back to all the way on the floor and I find them much more pleasant and less painful this way!

  7. Normades says:

    I’m sure the image is a wee bit photoshopped (because everything is) but those are fitnesses body goals. Toned, slim, but nothing plastic or over sculptured. She looks great and seems lovely

  8. Deering24 says:

    “There have been times this year that I have been more lonely than ever.“

    I am always surprised when successful people confess one of the hardest times of their lives is just after they hit big. And there are a lot of them who will say as much. I guess it’s true that success can solve some of your problems, but it also intensifies the pressure on your life in general. And brings new problems.