Push-Ups – a simple bodyweight exercise that anyone, everywhere can do – without the need for additional machines, expensive gym memberships, or clueless personal trainers. This exercise may look simple from the outside, but it’s actually greatly underused and widely misunderstood. What most self-proclaimed ‘experts’ fail to acknowledge, is that push-ups fire up the entirety of the body, including chests, abs, lower back, triceps, shoulders, glutes, and legs. Me personally – I would take push-ups over any other exercise any day of the year.
Doing the same push-up variations over and over again, however, can prove to be boring as ever. And quite frankly, our body thinks so too. Given this fact, we’ve come up with 20 push-up variations to try and spice things up a notch.
Here are 20 push-up variations to break up the monotony and will certainly add some flavour to your workout.
1. Standard Push-Up
The standard push-up is great for nailing that perfect form in order to proceed with other variations the right way.
Form: Assume an ordinary plank position, toes firmly on the ground to stabilize the lower body. Hands should be shoulder-width apart. Engage your glutes, core, and hamstrings while keeping your back as straight as possible. This concludes the starting position.
Start lowering your body while keeping your form intact. Make sure your glutes don’t stick out or dip down during a rep. Your body should be straight, and elbows tucked.
Now that you’re down, push back by utilizing your whole body – especially core, chest, and hands. This concludes a full repetition. Aim for 8-10 reps without breaking form.
2. Hand Tap Push-Up
This form is excellent for individuals wanting to improve coordination, agility, and overall stability while doing push-ups. The hand tap push-up makes the whole workout more isometric, which in turn helps with building strength.
Form: Do everything as in a regular push-up – with one slight difference; when you conclude your first repetition, slowly move over the right palm and touch the top of your left hand with it.
Alternate hands and do everywhere from 5-7 reps for beginners – to 10-15 reps for advanced individuals.
3. Shoulder Tap Push-Up
This variation has all the benefits the hand tap push-up offers, but the longer hold is more useful for adding additional balance to the mix.
Form: Repeat all the steps as in regular push-ups, but after every repetition – opt instead to touch your left shoulder with your right palm, and vice versa. It may prove tough at the beginning, but once you nail the correct form – it would become very rewarding in the long run.
Do as many reps as possible (5 for each side).
4. Thigh Tap Push-Up
The thigh tap push-up method is great for individuals looking to build up their core muscles and improve balance.
Form: Assume a normal push-up position. Lower your body until it just touches the floor, and upon going back up – extend your left hand and touch the outer part of your left thigh. Repeat the same motion, but now use the right hand to touch the outer part of your right thigh. This concludes one repetition.
Try to do 5-7 reps or more in accordance with your fitness level.
5. Rotational Push-Up
This push-up variation fires up both the oblique muscles and the shoulders. It also improves balance due to some moves that are rotational in nature.
Form: Assume a standard push-up position and do a half repetition as explained in #1. When rising up, transfer your body weight onto your right hand, and proceed to rotate the left side of your body until your left-hand ends up pointing towards the ceiling. Hold this position for 1.5-2 seconds and roll back to an ordinary push-up position.
Do 5-7 reps while alternating sides.
6. Single-Arm Raised Push-Up
The single-arm raised push-up is an excellent isometric exercise that especially targets the core muscles, the stabilizer muscles, and other portions that don’t get much ‘love’ during standard push-ups.
Form: Go into a standard push-up position, lower yourself to the ground, and raise your right hand simultaneously while pushing up. The form stays exactly the same as in the previous push-up variations.
Since this is an advanced workout, aim for at least 4-6 reps while alternating sides.
7. Single-Leg Raised Push-Up
This is an excellent exercise to be added to your daily body weight routine – mostly targeting the core muscles of the body.
Form: Assume a lower push-up position as explained in detail in #1. Lower your body so that it just grazes the floor or padded surface, and extend your right leg behind you while simultaneously going up. Then, lower your body to the starting position, and raise your left leg behind you while going up. This concludes one repetition.
Do 3-5 sets of 8 repetitions each, or in accordance with your fitness level.
8. Wide Grip Push-Up
This variation is extremely effective to massively develop your chest.
Form: Assume a standard push-up position, but now place your hands wider than what your shoulders are. This posture will fire up the pectoral muscles and will improve your overall strength if done correctly.
The movement remains the same as in #1. Do slower movements for additional strength gains. Aim for 5-8 reps in 3-4 sets.
9. Close-Grip Push-Up
The close grip push-up comes off as a killer workout for your triceps, shoulders, and forearms.
Form: Lower your body down – face against the floor – and put your hands closer than what your shoulders are. You can either put your palms straight or opt instead for a diamond lock in accordance with your preference.
A proper form should add additional burn to your chest, shoulders, and especially triceps. Do 5-7 reps, but pay attention to your form as this exercise will put additional pressure on the small muscles located within the shoulders.
10. Clapping Push-Up
The clapping push-up is a powerful push-up variation that targets the whole upper body area.
Form: Begin at the top position of a standard push-up. Advanced individuals can opt to fall slowly in a push-up position from a standing position. Descend by flexing your elbows until you achieve a 90-degree position. Push up as powerful as you can until your upper body ends up hanging in the air. During this time, bring your palms abruptly together into a clap and descend downward while flexing your muscles to avoid strains.
Beginners should strive for 3-5 reps, while advanced individuals and professionals can opt for anywhere between 7 to 15+ repetitions.
11. Knuckle Push-Up
The knuckle push-up strengthens the wrist more than what an ordinary push-up will do.
Form: In this variation of a push-up, the pressure of your body weight should rest on the whole top of your hand – starting from the first knuckle – all the way to the last one. Hands should be shoulder-width apart, back and arms straight.
Start by lowering yourself until elbows are flexed at the 90-degree mark – then slowly push up until you reach the starting position as described above. This concludes one rep.
Aim to achieve 8-12 reps in 3 to 5 sets.
12. Staggered Push-Up
This push-up is a powerful variation that will fire up each chest muscle and add strength to those who are experiencing trouble with their non-dominant half.
Form: Place yourself in a standard push-up variation form. Now extend your right hand forward while keeping your left hand in the same position as in #1.
Repeat the basic push-up movements for 5-7 reps while alternating sides.
13. Slow Negative Push-Up
This one sounds dope, and that’s because it is. The slow negative push-up helps build strength, endurance, and muscle – all at the same time.
Form: Drop down and assume a regular push-up form. Now, start lowering your upper body as slow as possible – preferably by performing the half-rep in one motion. Just as you’re about to hit the ground – drop your knees on the floor and transfer your body weight onto the knees and toes.
Do 5-7 repetitions in 3 sets.
14. Pseudo Planche Push-Up
This variation has the fingers pointing backward and is an exercise for advanced individuals. The pseudo planche is great for developing your biceps, along with your shoulders.
Form: This exercise should only be done by advanced individuals; beginners should opt out from this push-up variation in order to avoid straining a muscle or a ligament in the body.
Assume a standard push-up position, but place your hands ‘in reverse’ so that now your fingers end up pointing toward your toes. Repeat the same movements as advised in #1, and be careful to maintain a proper push-up form.
Aim for 3-5 reps, 4 sets each.
15. Superman Push-Up
Why not end your workout with a bang? The Superman push-up targets the whole body while also adding some cardio and calisthenics to the mix.
Form: Lower your body into a standard push-up position, core tight and back straight. Do the half-rep and on your way up – explode upward and try to move your hands and legs as far from your body as possible while not touching the ground.
Start with 2 reps and work your way up from there.