10 Push-Up Variations for Strength, Power and More!

December 31, 2016

gv_jan-2017_push-upThe unappreciated push-up should really be your favorite exercise – it requires no equipment, you can do it anywhere, it’s adaptable to any fitness level, and it can be adapted to fit a wide variety of goals.

There are so many push-up variations that you should be including at least one into your routine. Whether to increase mobility or gain explosive power, everyone can use some form of the push-up to help them improve. Here are ten variations that you may not have considered. Try them on for size and get ready to push your limits!

1. Try Incline Push-ups if you’re having trouble with the standard version. Rest your hands on a raised surface – like a bench or step – instead of the floor. The higher the surface, the less of your body weight you will have to lift. Lower your chest to the bench, keeping your knees and back straight. Push back out again.

2. Placing your feet higher than your hands will make the exercise more challenging. For a Decline Push-up, position your hands on the floor slightly wider than shoulder width and place your feet on a bench or elevation. Keeping straight, lower the upper body to the floor by bending your arms. To allow for full descent, pull the head back slightly without arching the back. Push your body back up until the arms are extended.

3. You can do a Tricep Push-up by placing your hands close together directly under your shoulders when in the push-up position. You can also touch your index fingers and thumbs together to form a “diamond.” Keep your elbows tucked close to your sides as you lower your body. This adjustment shifts the work from your chest to your arms.

4. To task your core and grip strength, try the Barbell Push-up. Assume the normal push-up position – except that your hands are on a weighted barbell. Complete the reps while making sure the barbell doesn’t roll away.

5. Plyometric Push-ups will help you develop explosive upper-body strength. Lower your chest to the floor as in a standard push-up and then drive your body up explosively so your hands leave the ground. Upon landing, immediately begin your next repetition. Another plyometric variation is the “Clap Push-up.”

6. If you want to develop your chest, shoulders, back, hips and triceps all at once, use the Dive Bomber Push-up. Bend over and place your hands on the floor while keeping your arms and legs straight. Keep your butt high and your head pointing down to the ground. Now you’re going to make a swooping motion with your body. Push your head forward by bending your elbows. Keep your head low and continue moving your torso forward by arching your back and lowering your hips. You’ll end up with your hips near your hands. Now make the same swooping motion in reverse until you reach the starting position.

7. The goal of the Pike Push-up is to work your shoulders. Start by positioning as you would for a normal push-up. While keeping your legs straight, take a few steps forward, bringing your feet towards your hands. Now bend at the elbows to lower your upper body to-wards the floor. Lower until your head is almost touching the floor, then push back up to the start position.

8. For Rotational Push-ups, assume the classic push-up position and lower yourself towards the floor. As you come up, rotate your body so your right arm lifts up and extends over your head until you are in a side plank. Your arms and body should form a T. Rotate back to the center and then repeat, rotating to the left side.

9. Side-to-Side Push-ups work one side of your body at a time. From the normal starting position, lower yourself to the ground as you lean toward your right side. Your right arm will be doing most of the work as you push back up. As you lower yourself again, lean to-wards the left, just focusing on that side. Side-to-Sides are a great way to prepare for One-Armed Push-ups.

10. The One-Armed Push-up is a feat of great strength that begs for an ice cream bet. It calls for brute strength and a rock solid core. In the standard push-up position, spread your feet apart. With one hand behind your back, lower yourself slowly until your chest is almost touching the ground and then press up. Go until you can’t do anymore and then switch to the other hand – or alternate hands with every rep for the “Rocky Push-up.”


There are scores of videos available online to help you better understand the different push-up variations presented here. Do a Google search or try some of these links:

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