The humble push-up doesn’t get enough love; it’s a great upper-body and core exercise, doesn’t need any equipment, and you can do it practically anywhere. Okay, we admit it: the regular pushup isn’t exactly the most exciting exercise you can do – if your workout was a meal, push-ups would probably be the rice or maybe even the potatoes… pretty bland on its’ own.
In our easy push-up progression article we promised to give you push-up aficionados some killer push-up variations, just in case the classics were getting too easy, or even if you just want to mix it up a bit. And boy are we going to deliver, because there are more challenging push-up variations than you can shake a stick at.
And after adding a few of these variations into your workout, your arms are going to be too tired to do much stick-shaking anyway! So without further ado, in no particular order…
19 Killer Push-Up Variations
Kind of a classic, but definitely a good variation. Having a wider hand placement puts much more emphasis on your chest muscles rather than your triceps. The reduced leverage also makes it much more difficult (the wider you go the more difficult it becomes) but you can still make this easier by adopting the modified push-up position (i.e. push-up from the knees).
You are going to feel this in your triceps, big time. This is variation puts a lot of emphasis on working your triceps (the closer your hand placement, the more you engage triceps and shoulders). So if you want sexy, sculpted triceps make sure you stick some of these bad boys into your workouts. Again, if they’re too hard at first you can always use the modified position to make them easier.
Take decline push-ups to their extreme and you get the handstand push-up. Needless to say, this is a killer shoulder and arms exercise. In the video Nia Shanks demonstrates a great way to progress to full handstand push-ups. If you wanted to go even further, you’d move on to doing it without the wall for assistance. Let us know when you get there!
The isometric push-up is like the plank’s bigger brother, so if you love your plank then add this guy into the mix for an intense arm and chest workout. You can actually do many push-up variations as isometric exercises in order to help build the strength necessary for the full dynamic version of the exercise.
If classic push-ups are tough on your wrists, the barbell push-up is a great variation (another alternative is to do your pushups on your fists rather than flat handed). This variation also seems to target the chest very effectively, so give it a try next workout. The other cool thing you can do with this variation is to combine your push-up with other exercises like the barbell roll-out or the clean and press.
This variation deserves a round of applause (had to do it). Obviously you shouldn’t be trying these unless you’re pretty competent at push-ups because as awesome as they look, if you get this one wrong it could be messy, but your dentist will probably thank you for the business. Crazy people also do a behind-the-back clap variation of this! If you were going to do this variation, you’d probably build up to it with plyometric pushups, lots and lots of them.
Nick Tumminello shows us how to do one-arm push-ups the right way; this is a great video on getting good technique (which actually makes it easier) for this challenging variation. Still, a very tough variation, but in terms of the cool-factor, this is definitely one to master when you want to show off to your friends or just random strangers – hey, you worked for it!
Those are just some of the myriad of push-up variations you’ll find, if you dig deep enough you’ll find a few more gems; however, we’re sure there are enough variations here to keep you busy for a while – enjoy!
What is your favorite push-up variation? Let us know in the comment section below!