The Kitchen Counter Push Up uses body weight to work multiple muscles in an integrated way – in the same way your body moves in daily life. It's a great exercise for strengthening the upper body since this one multi-joint movement targets the chest, shoulders and triceps. All push-ups help firm the triceps in the back of the upper arm (a traditional trouble spot for women!) and are weight-bearing through the arms and the wrists. The abdominals and back muscles are active in stabilizing the torso. The level of difficulty is determined by how much weight you shift onto your upper body.
In general, this version of the push up is a good choice for strengthening the chest area after breast surgery since you are not lifting a lot of weight. However, if you find it too difficult, try the easier version of the Wall Push Up: standing an arms length away from the wall, bend your elbows and lower your chest to the wall. If you've had tissue expanders and implants under the pectoral muscles, check with your doctor before trying any version of the push up.
Joan is author of the best-selling book Strength Training for Women and owner of Joan Pagano Fitness in New York City.