Best Push Up Variations: The Top 25 List

Best Push Up Variations

 

Best Push Up Variations: Maximizing the Push-Up

The push up has long been used as a way to develop muscle and get in better shape. Whether it was as a young child having a push-up competition with your friends, as a form of punishment when playing sports, or as a bodyweight exercise to get in better shape. The push up is pretty commonly known and used.

What isn’t as commonly known, though, is all of the different push-up variations out there. With the right know-how, you can not only work your chest muscles but a number of other muscles as well. With some of these different push-up variations, you will be able to work your back muscles, tricep muscles, shoulder muscles, core muscles, and so on. By simply using the push-up exercise and it’s different variations, you will be able to get an excellent workout in.

When working out, though, it is important to note that you do want to try and balance out push and pull exercises. So while all of these push-up variations are excellent push exercises, adding in some pull-based exercises to your workout or alternating push and pull workout days is also recommended. It could be with some TRX exercises, with machines, or even a pull-up bar.

So take advantage of all of these different types of push up variations. After that make sure to check out our list of the best fitness sites, best workout supplements, and best home exercise equipment for even more fitness-related lists.

 

 

List of the Top 25 Push Up Variations:

 

Standard Push Up

Primary Muscles Worked: Chest, Triceps, Shoulders

Difficulty Level: Beginner

Tips: Keep your core tight and your body in a straight line. Also, if you need, you can start on your knees instead of your feet to make the exercise easier.

About Push Up Variation: You have most likely done a few standard push-ups within your lifetime, but it is essential to note the fundamentals of the exercise. When performing a push-up, you want to make sure that you are locking in on the correct form each time. You want to keep your core tight, focus on your breathing, make sure you are getting a full range of motion, and so on. The more you can do this, the more you are going to get out of this exercise.

 

 

Wide Stance Push Up

Primary Muscles Worked: Chest, triceps, Shoulders

Difficulty Level: Beginner

Tips: Set your hands wider than average, but still make sure you find a comfortable stance.

About Push Up Variation: This is one of the best push-up variations for chest in that it will help to target your chest from a slightly different angle. It is the same as a standard push up; it just is going to have you widen your hands. By widening your hands, you are going to target more of the outside of your chest. You will put more emphasis on your chest and less on the triceps as you lower yourself down and push yourself back up. This will help when it comes to developing muscle mass in your pecs and with your overall strength.

 

 

Close Stance Push Up

Primary Muscles Worked: Triceps, Chest, Shoulders

Difficulty Level: Beginner

Tips: Find a comfortable hand positioning and make sure that you are keeping your core tight as you perform the exercise.

About Push Up Variation: The more you bring your hands in close together, the more you are focusing on your tricep muscles. You are still going to be using some chest and shoulders, but it will be primarily your triceps that lower you down and push you back up. When doing this exercise, it is essential to note that you still need to achieve a full range of motion. When you bring your hands in, the tendency sometimes is to not get all the way up and down each time. However, if you want to maximize your results, this is going to be critical.

 

 

Diamond Push Up

Primary Muscles Worked: Triceps, Shoulders, Chest

Difficulty Level: Advanced

Tips: Focus on nice and controlled movements.

About Push Up Variation: When it comes to the best triceps push-ups, it doesn’t get much better than this. This type of push up variation is an advanced version of the close stance push up. Instead of placing your hands on your sides, you will put them together and make a diamond shape between your pointer fingers and thumbs. As you lower yourself down and push yourself back up, you will be focusing on your triceps and shoulders. Because this exercise is more advanced, you will also have the tendency to bend at the waist; you don’t want this. It is crucial that you keep your core tight and body in a straight line as you perform this push-up variation.

 

 

Pike Push Up

Primary Muscles Worked: Shoulders, Triceps

Difficulty Level: Moderate

Tips: The angle of your pike position will determine the difficulty level of the push-up. Make sure to keep your eyes back to your feet as you complete each repetition.

About Push Up Variation: Another great shoulder push up variation is the pike push up. It is going to adjust the angle of your push up so that your shoulders are doing the majority of the work. So instead of keeping your body in a straight line parallel to the ground, you are going to pike your butt up in the air. You want your weight over your hands as much as possible. Also, instead of looking down, you are going to look back towards your feet so that the top of your head is towards the ground. Having your feet on the ground for this exercise will make it difficult, but placing your feet on the wall or an elevated surface will really up the challenge.

 

 

Spiderman Push Up

Primary Muscles Worked: Chest, Triceps, Shoulders, Core

Difficulty Level: Moderate

Tips: Do your best to keep your core tight and your movements nice and controlled.

About Push Up Variation: All of these push-up variations are going to have some form of core component to it, but the Spiderman push up takes it to a new level. This push-up variation is going to have you raise your knee to your elbow each time you lower down. So not only will you be getting the crunch motion by bringing a knee up each time, but you will also be forced to balance on your other single leg as well, which will cause your core to have to work even more.

 

 

Dive Bomber Push Up

Primary Muscles Worked: Back, Chest, Shoulders, Triceps

Difficulty Level: Advanced

Tips: Picture yourself going under a wire each time you go down and bring yourself back up.

About Push Up Variation: The dive bomber push up is one of the best push up variations for developing your back and shoulders. It will work your chest and triceps as well, but it is really going to focus on the back and shoulder muscles. The exercise will start similar to pike push up. Instead of going straight down and up, though, you are going to go down, lower yourself under an imaginary wire, and then push yourself back up on the other side. The movement gets its name from a dive bomber airplane that drops down and then raises back up.

 

 

One-Hand Medicine Ball Push Up

Primary Muscles Worked: Chest, Triceps, Shoulders

Difficulty Level: Moderate

Tips: Stability is the key to this exercise. So it is critical to focus on keeping the medicine ball still and balanced on each repetition.

About Push Up Variation: When it comes to developing your muscles, stability is going to be critical. You want to look good and be strong, but you also want to have functional strength. This is one of the best types of push up variations for working on stability strength. By adding in the medicine ball, you will force your muscles to stay balanced and to stabilize themselves on each repetition. This goes for your shoulders, chest, and triceps, but it also goes for your core muscles as well.

 

 

Two-Hand Medicine Ball Push Up

Primary Muscles Worked: Chest, Triceps, Shoulders

Difficulty Level: Moderate

Tips: Keep both medicine balls as still as possible and keep your back in a straight line.

About Push Up Variation: When it comes to developing strength and muscle stability, it doesn’t get much better than the two-hand medicine ball push up. This push-up variation will really challenge you to be able to keep your balance and your core tight as you lower and raise yourself up each time. With having each of your hands on a medicine ball that can potentially roll, you will need to focus on keeping balanced on each repetition. Also, by having your hands on an elevated object, you will be able to lower yourself down further and work on depth push-ups. This will really help with developing muscle mass in your pectorals.

 

 

Swiss Ball Push Up

Primary Muscles Worked: Shoulders, Triceps, Chest

Difficulty Level: Moderate

Tips: Keep the Swiss ball as balanced as you can with your shoulders and core.

About Push Up Variation: This push-up variation is going to focus primarily on the shoulder muscles. It will work other muscles, but it is going to be an excellent exercise for strengthening and toning your shoulders. What makes it such a good exercise is the addition of the Swiss ball. As with all Swiss ball exercises, the person performing the exercise must be able to stay balanced as they perform the movement. So as you lower yourself down and push yourself back up, you will have to keep the Swiss ball balanced under you. This will help to challenge your muscles and cause you to put in the extra effort.

 

 

Incline Push Up

Primary Muscles Worked: Chest, Triceps, Shoulders

Difficulty Level: Beginner

Tips: Keep your core tight and control your movements.

About Push Up Variation: You may or may not be aware, but the chest is made up of different muscles. That is why when you go to the gym, you see a flat bench, incline bench, and decline bench. Depending on the angle that you use, you will work on developing different parts of your chest. It is the same way with push-ups and the angle that you choose. With this push-up variation, the only difference between it and a standard push up is the angle. This incline push-up is going to focus on developing the lower part of your chest.

 

 

Decline Push Up

Primary Muscles Worked: Chest, Shoulders, Triceps

Difficulty Level: Moderate

Tips: Keep your back in a straight line and make sure your hands are out at the correct distance from your feet.

About Push Up Variation: Opposite to the incline push up listed above, the decline push up is going to focus more on the upper chest and the front of your shoulders. It is also opposite in that it will have you place your feet on an elevated surface rather than your hands. This may make it a little bit more a difficult push-up variation, but it will really help to develop your upper chest muscles and is one of the better push up variations for mass. So for a full chest workout, try combining standard push-ups, incline push-ups, and decline push-ups. Doing all three of these together will help to make sure that you are developing your whole chest.

 

 

Clap Push Up

Primary Muscles Worked: Chest, Shoulders, Triceps

Difficulty Level: Advanced

Tips: Really look to launch yourself upwards on each repetition, but make sure that you are also absorbing your weight as you catch yourself on the landing.

About Push Up Variation: If you are looking to develop explosiveness, this is going to be the push-up variation for you. By having to generate enough momentum to get your body up off of the ground for a clap, you will really force your chest, shoulders, and triceps to be explosive. It is not just about how you explode upwards, though. As you land, you must also be able to catch yourself and control your body back down. This will also challenge you and allow you to work on developing your strength and muscle mass.

 

 

Weighted Push-Up

Primary Muscles Worked: Chest, Shoulders, Triceps

Difficulty Level: Moderate

Tips: Find a weight that is going to challenge you, but that will also allow you to keep the correct form.

About Push Up Variation: If you are looking to develop your strength, try adding weight to your push-ups. It will help to have a partner, but before you start executing a standard push up, have someone place weighted plates on your back. The added weight will really challenge your muscles to produce. Also, whenever you do regular push-ups again, you will feel like they are that much easier to complete. Another excellent way to do weighted push-ups is with a heavy chain. You can drape the chain on your back, and then perform the push-up motion. This will cause the top part of your push up to be more challenging than the bottom because more of the chain will be off the ground, which will help with your sticking point.

 

 

Archer Push Up

Primary Muscles Worked: Chest, Shoulders, Back, and Triceps

Difficulty Level: Advanced

Tips: Lock in the on the form to make sure you are executing the movements correctly.

About Push Up Variation: This is one of the more advanced push-up variations in this list and may take some working up to. It is an excellent exercise to challenge yourself, though, and to mix things up. Instead of going straight down as you would with a standard push up, you are going to angle down over your right or left arm each time. This will really force one side of your body to work and support the majority of your weight. It is also an excellent push-up variation for developing and strengthening your core.

 

 

Superman Push Up

Primary Muscles Worked: Chest, Shoulders, Triceps

Difficulty Level: Advanced

Tips: Challenge yourself to be as explosive as you can on the way up. As you land, though, make sure that you are absorbing your weight and landing softly each time.

About Push Up Variation: It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s the Superman push up! When talking about developing explosiveness, it doesn’t get much better than the Superman push up. By having to launch yourself up off of the ground each time, you will really be forcing your chest, shoulders, and triceps to exert themselves. This explosiveness will really help out with all of your other push-based exercises. For example, rather than having a slow push on a heavy bench repetition, you will be able to better explode upwards  with the weight.

 

 

One-Arm Push Up

Primary Muscles Worked: Chest, Shoulders, Triceps

Difficulty Level: Advanced

Tips: Keep your core tight and your body in the correct position.

About Push Up Variation: Think two-arm push-ups are too easy? Well, give these one-arm push-ups a try! What makes this type of push up so challenging is not only the added weight on a single-arm, but also having to balance your body. Your core will have to do a great job of holding yourself steady as you lower down and come back up. The more you can keep your body under control on each repetition, the more you will get out of this exercise.

 

 

Negative Push Up

Primary Muscles Worked: Chest, Shoulders, Triceps

Difficulty Level: Beginner

Tips: Lower yourself down slowly and under control.

About Push Up Variation: The negative push up is going to be the same form as a standard push up. The only difference is that you are going to slowly lower yourself down each time, before exploding back up. You want to be able to control your weight as much as you can going down, which will force your muscles to have to support you. If you really want to challenge yourself, try weighted negative push-ups.

 

 

Single-Leg Push Up

Primary Muscles Worked: Chest, Shoulders, Triceps, Core

Difficulty Level: Moderate

Tips: Keep your core tight and don’t allow your body to rotate to the right or left.

About Push Up Variation: By having to balance on one leg, you are going to force your core to stabilize you. The upper part of your push up will remain the same, but with having only one leg down, your body will want to rotate to the right or left. In order to keep yourself from doing this, your core will need to stay engaged the whole time. And, by alternating which foot is down/up, you will be able to work on your core from different angles.

 

 

Knuckle Push Up

Primary Muscles Worked: Chest, Shoulders, Triceps, Knuckles, Wrists

Difficulty Level: Moderate

Tips: Keep your wrists locked and stable.

About Push Up Variation: If you have ever watched push-ups in a Karate or fighting movie, they were most likely knuckle push-ups. Don’t worry, though, you don’t have to be an MMA fighter to do this exercise. By executing push-ups on your knuckles, you are going to be able to work on a few different things. The first being the toughness of your knuckles and the strengthening of your wrists. Secondly, though, you will work on your stability muscles. With your palms flat on the ground, you have a lot more balance. With your knuckles, though, you will have a tendency to want to rotate one way or the other. In order to keep this from happening, your body will have to stabilize itself on each repetition.

 

 

 

Staggered Stance Push Up

Primary Muscles Worked: Chest, Shoulders, Triceps

Difficulty Level: Moderate

Tips: Don’t let your hands get too staggered apart. Find a comfortable distance and make sure that you are protecting your shoulders.

About Push Up Variation: The staggered stance push up is a great way to mix up the angle that you are working your muscles at. Rather than having your hands on an even plain, you are going to have one lower than the other. This will force your body to adjust and will work your chest, shoulders, triceps, etc. at a slightly different angle. If you really want to be creative, you might even consider turning this exercise into a walking staggered stance push up.

 

 

Fingertip Push Up

Primary Muscles Worked: Chest, Shoulders, Triceps, Hand Strength

Difficulty Level: Advanced

Tips: If you need to, start out doing these with your weight on your knees and then work up to being on your toes.

About Push Up Variation: This is a challenging push up variation because it is going to force you to have strong fingers. It is a standard push up motion, but instead of having your palms flat on the ground, you are going to be up on your fingertips. This will allow you to work on the same muscles, but will add the challenge of holding your weight up with your fingers. The great thing, though, is that you can work your way up to this advanced push-up variation by starting out with your knees on the ground instead of your feet. So if you are unable to execute the fingertip push up right away, work your way up to it.

 

 

Depth Push Up

Primary Muscles Worked: Chest, Shoulders, Triceps

Difficulty Level: Moderate

Tips: Lower yourself down as low as you can safely go and really allow your chest muscles to stretch as you do.

About Push Up Variation: This is one of the best push up variations for mass. The reason why is because you are going to be able to lower yourself down further than you normally would be able to with a standard push up. Your hands are going to be on a slightly elevated surface, but you are still going to challenge yourself to get your chest all the way to the ground. This will really help to stretch your chest muscles and help to develop more muscle mass.

 

 

Resistance Band Push Up

Primary Muscles Worked: Chest, Shoulders, Triceps

Difficulty Level: Moderate

Tips: There are different levels of resistance bands, so find one that will challenge you, but will also allow you to execute the correct form.

About Push Up Variation: Resistance exercises are great because they not only make the exercise more challenging, but they make it more challenging at specific points. Think about pulling back a rubber band. The more you pull it back, the tighter it gets, and the more difficult it is to pull it back. It is the same way with resistance bands. As you get to the top of your push up, it will become increasingly more difficult because the band becomes tighter. This will help to make you stronger, but it will help to improve your sticking point when it comes to benching. So rather than getting stuck the next time you bench or are doing a lot of push-ups, you will hopefully be able to power through and finish the repetition.

 

 

TRX Push Up

Primary Muscles Worked: Chest, Shoulders, Triceps

Difficulty Level: Moderate

Tips: The sharper the angle between your body and the ground, the more challenging this exercise will be.

About Push Up Variation: TRX Exercises are similar to using a Swiss ball or a medicine ball in that they really make you focus on stability. With a standard push up, you have your hands on the ground, which doesn’t move. With the TRX push up, you must also account for the handles which can move up, down, and sideways if you don’t focus on keeping them still. This is going to really help with developing the stability muscles in your chest, shoulders, triceps, core, and so on. The other great thing about this TRX push up is that the difficulty can be very easily adjusted. By simply moving your feet in or out, you can adjust the angle of the push-up, which will make the exercise easier or harder.

 

 

Best Push Up Variations Conclusion

One of the best things about the push-up exercise is that it can be done almost anywhere. With just a small area of flat ground, you can get in a great workout. Also, a number of these different push-up variations can be made easier or more difficult. So whatever level you are starting at, you will be able to adjust the difficulty level to fit your needs.

The bad thing, though, is that you will no longer be able to use the excuse of not being able to get to the gym, or not having time. In 20-30 minutes, you can get in a high-level workout. It could be right when you wake up, as you are watching your favorite TV show, or even broken up throughout the day. With all of these different push-up exercises, you will be able to have all the freedom you need to work out as you are able to. So put on your favorite pair of workout out clothes, and start taking advantage of some of these awesome push-up variations.

If you are looking for even more ways to stay fit on your own, make sure to visit our list of the best stretches and best yoga poses. Both of these lists will fit nicely with this list of the best push up variations.

Do you have a favorite type of push-up, or maybe you have tried a few of these? If so, let us know in the comments below.

 

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