The push up is a classic for a reason: it’s a simple movement that can be done anywhere, without any equipment, yet it is also a compound exercise that works multiple muscle groups. It is dependable, reliable, and doesn’t require any special equipment or a gym. Push ups are an exercise that you can do anywhere, no matter how little time you have to exercise.
Whether you want to do an entire push up workout, or you just want to get a quick bit of exercise in, there’s a push up variation for you. With only simple changes to the basic movement, you can engage your whole body and make your workout more exciting and challenging.
Here are 10 of the best push up variations:
Keeping your hands centred under your pecs, raise up on your fingertips while you’re pressing up and down. This will strengthen your hands, forearms and grip. It also reduces the strain on your wrists, as they are no longer at a 90 degree angle to your arms. Not only is this more comfortable, it can also reduce the chance of strain and injury.
Starting at the top of your push up, with your arms fully extended, place one forearm flat on the floor beneath you, fingertips forward. Do the same for your other arm, holding plank position for a moment before walking your hands back up to the pushup position. This variation supercharges the workout for your core, back, and stabilizing muscles, improving your posture and your performance in other exercises.
Positioning your hands so that your pointer finger and thumbs touch and create a diamond shape, centre your hands underneath your chest. Perform push ups as usual. This will target your triceps and pectoral muscles, which are very important for shoulder stabilization.
Bending forward with legs hip width apart, touch your hands to the floor so that you body creates a V shape. Keeping your legs straight as possible, bend your arms so that your head approaches the floor, then push back up to the starting position. If you are working towards handstand push ups, this is a great place to start. Pike push ups target your shoulder muscles, preparing them for the strength, endurance, and stability required for handstands.
Starting from a standard push up position, as you are lowering your body down, kick one leg out to the side and try to bring your knee up to your elbow. Straighten your leg as you press back up, and then repeat on the other side. By moving your leg to the side, you are increasing the load on your other limbs, working them harder, while also training your oblique muscles.
The opposite of diamond push ups, wide grip pushups have you place your hands shoulder width apart. This focuses the force on your chest and abdominals. As its harder to balance when your arms are spread further apart, your core kicks into high gear, trying to stabilize your body’s movement.
Beginning with a standard push up position, tuck your elbows in close to your sides. Perform push ups as usual. This movement, taken from yoga, is fantastic for back muscles. Doing it properly will strengthen shoulder stabilizing muscles, protecting your joints in other exercises.
Starting from a standard push up form, move one hand out towards your shoulder. Do push ups as usual. The further out that you put your hand, the more it will work the other side of your body. This is one of the best push ups to help you develop a really strong form and work up to one-handed push ups.
Who says push ups can’t work your legs? While at the top of a push up, bring your left knee to your left elbow, then extend it back. Repeat with your right knee, then lower your body, press up, and repeat. Mountain climber push ups are the best push up to give you a little cardio blast.
While performing a push up, extend one straight leg above the other one. Switch legs after every set. For a little more variation, change the angle of your leg-- kick it out to the side or keep it almost touching the floor to really engage your core.
Still too easy? Try pointing your fingertips in different directions, or combining two types of push ups together.
Push up workouts are a great way to work lots of different muscle groups at the same time. Whether you are knocking some out first thing in the morning, or making them the main event of your work out, there’s a variation to keep them exciting and challenging for you.
More into yoga than bodyweight workouts? Read our list of the six best yoga poses for men.
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