Push-ups are a classic strength training exercise that you can perform at home or in the gym to work on building up muscles or gaining power. It's an exercise that most people know how to do in its most basic form, but there are many more push up variations that can also be included in your workout routine.
Push-ups help to build strength in your chest, shoulders, arms, abs, and back, which is why it's such a practical move. With multiple variations of the same exercise, you can construct a more comprehensive workout routine that will leave you feeling more powerful and much stronger across all of these critical muscle groupings. Increase the intensity of these movements by adding a band for push ups.
Keep reading to learn how to build strength using these effective push-up variations!
What is a push-up?
The push up needs little introduction. It's often considered a foundational exercise for the fact that it's widely known, and it effectively strengthens many foundational muscles that are essential for further training. Push-ups are famous because you can perform them almost anywhere, all the while working multiple muscle groups to build strength and power.
The pushup, in its most basic form, involves adopting the 'push up' position on your hands and feet. Hold your arms straight below your shoulders, with your legs stretched behind you. Lower your chest towards the ground by bending your arms while keeping your body in a straight line.
But while most people know how to do a basic push up, not so many people know how effective the different types of push-ups can be too, when included in a workout routine. The push up is all about having good form, so once you've perfected the classic technique, you can start to adapt your circuits to include these optimal variations we'll be explaining shortly!
Do push-ups build muscle?
Push-ups are very effective at building muscles as they target your chest, arms, shoulders, back, and abs at the same time. They are great for building and toning muscle as well as power and endurance in these muscle groupings.
Consistency is critical when building muscle. To work out how many push-ups you should be doing each day, or how many press-ups to incorporate into your circuits, start by seeing how many push-ups you can perform in one setting.
If you perform less than 25 push-ups at one time, then include at least 50 and no more than 75 push-ups throughout each workout. If you can perform up to 50 push-ups in a row, then try to incorporate between 75 and 150 push-ups in each workout.
Push-up variations you can add to your strength training circuits.
The classic push up is an excellent technique for building strength, but there are many variations of the basic movement which can help you tighten up your form while building stronger muscles at the same time.
Perform the following variations as stand-alone exercises, or incorporate them into an existing strength training routine. You can even pick your favorites and build a dedicated push-up variations workout!
Several of these exercises make use of a resistance band. You can effectively make use of resistance bands to increase the tension that your muscles are working against for a more thorough and targeted exercise. As one resistance band becomes too easy for you, move up the ranks and pick a stronger band to work with!
Remember to stretch and perform light cardio before commencing any workout routines.
Here are 10 of the best push variations:
Master the form and technique of the classic push up before trying the variations. Add a hip circle band or pull up assist band to the exercise to practice more difficult resistance bands pushups.
- Loop a resistance band over your shoulders and place yourself on all fours, with the ends of the band held firmly beneath your hands.
- Your hands should be below your shoulders, your back straight, and your legs outstretched.
- Use your arms to lower your chest towards the ground.
- Push up with your arms to return to the start position.
2. Close grip push-ups
Target your triceps more effectively with close grip pushups (which can also be known as diamond push ups). Loop a resistance band around your shoulders and under your hands for a more challenging exercise.
- Adopt the standard push up position on all fours.
- Move your hands towards your body, so they are firmly planted into the ground directly adjacent to each other. Form your hands into a diamond shape for a better grip.
- Bend your elbows and lower your body towards the ground.
- Push up with your arms, raising your body to the start position.
- Repeat for the desired number of reps.
3. Walking push-up
Build power and agility by practicing walking pushups. Loop a resistance band around both arms to increase the intensity!
- Adopt the standard push up position, but with a closer grip than usual, and a resistance band looped around both arms, just above the wrists.
- Take your left arm and move it away from your body, to the left-hand side. Plant it firmly onto the ground and perform a pushup. Return it to the center and perform another pushup.
- Then, move your right arm away from your body, to the right-hand side. Plant it firmly onto the ground and perform a pushup. Return your right arm to the center and perform another pushup.
- Keep repeating in both directions for as many reps as you can!
4. Spiderman push-up
Feel like spiderman as you work your legs and arms in this pushup variation. Place a resistance band around both ankles to make the exercise even more challenging than it already is.
- Adopt the standard push up position.
- Lower your chest toward the ground, lift your right leg, and bring your knee towards your right elbow.
- Return your right leg to the floor as you push up to the starting position.
- Repeat with your left leg, then alternate as you perform spiderman pushups.
5. Archer push-up
Build your arm muscles with the archer push up. Loop a resistance band over your shoulders and under your hands to make this more challenging.
- Adopt the pushup position but with a wide arm grip.
- Shift your weight to your right side and push down only with your right arm.
- Push up using your right arm while keeping your left arm straight.
- Repeat on your left-hand side, then alternate.
6. Wall push-ups
A great exercise to build muscles if you can't complete a full push up on the floor.
- Place your hands, shoulder-width apart, against a solid wall.
- Keep your body at a slight angle to the wall.
- Push your body against the wall, then push back to your start position.
7. Pike push-up
The pike pushup is a great way to improve your core strength and flexibility.
- Adopt the pushup position, but slowly raise your hips and buttocks until your body forms a vertical V-shape.
- When you reach the V-shape, bend your elbows to lower your upper body towards the ground slowly.
- Return to the start position and repeat.
8. Hand release push-up
Build power and increase your body's range of motion with the hand release push up.
- Adopt the pushup position and lower your chest towards the ground.
- Instead of pushing back up, hold your body against the floor so you can release your hands.
- Hold the position, then place your hands back on the ground and push back up.
- Repeat for your max number of reps.
9. Incline push-up
Target your chest with incline pushups. You need a solid, elevated surface for this exercise.
- Select a raised surface such as the back of a couch or a workout bench.
- Hold your body against the raised surface, using your chest muscles to lower yourself towards it.
- Push back up and repeat the exercise.
10. Decline push-up
Keep your legs raised as you work your shoulders and chest with decline pushups.
- Select a raised surface such as a couch or workout bench where you can keep your feet elevated during the exercise.
- Perform the standard push up movements, as you keep your feet and legs raised.
- Repeat for as many reps as you can.
The final word on the many push-up variations!
Push-ups are one of the best exercises you can regularly practice if you're looking to build strength and power across a range of upper body muscles. With one movement, you effectively target your chest, shoulder, arms, abs, and back muscles.
Add in a few push-up variations, and you can create an effective workout routine that will give you a great base level of strength and fitness that you can then apply to sports, athletics, or further strength training. With push up bands or hip circle bands, you can quickly adapt the exercises and make them much more difficult too!
Why not add push up variations into your regular strength training circuits?