The push up is a great exercise. It is so simple. All you need is your body, a surface to push against, and some good ol’ fashioned gravity.
The muscles under tension with the push up include:
- serratus anterior
There are MANY ways you can alter the physics of the push up to make it easier or harder. Foot placement, hand placement, foot elevation, hand elevation, single arm, single leg, tempo/cadence, and incorporating plyometric elements are all ways to manipulate this great exercise. Make no mistake about it – you can build some amazing chest strength just by doing advanced push up variations.
I would like to share with you some of my favorite varieties.
Superman push up – this is a full plyometric version where you explode up and straighten your arms and legs.
Spiderman push up – as you lower yourself into the push up, touch your knee to your tricep on that same side (if you move your right knee, touch your right tricep).
Plyometric spiderman push up – start with staggered hands and feet. Explode off the ground and switch hand/foot position.
4-ball push up – this is a tricky one. It really challenges your core. Each hand is on its own ball, and each foot is on its own ball. You need to really lock in your core and glutes and keep them rigid as you move.
Chest clap push up – this is another plyometric variety that is a nice progression to superman push ups. Explode up from the bottom of the move, clap your chest with both hands, and get your hands back down.
Moving push up – pick a direction to move (for example, left), and from your plank position, move your left arm and left leg at the same time to the left, lower yourself as you move, and push yourself back up. Move as many times as you want in one direction, and then reverse it.
Full jack push up – this is another plyometric variety where you start in high plank with your hands inside shoulder width and feet inside hip width. In an explosive move, widen your hands and feet at the same time as you go into the bottom of the push up. Explode back up.
Dive bomber push up – this is a deceptively tough move to do for high reps – really gets your shoulders going. Start in downward dog position, glide your body forward into upward dog position, and then reverse it back. The key is to keep your elbows in towards the body.
Diamond push ups – this version will not only forge triceps of steel, but will also improve forearm strength and wrist mobility. Form a diamond with your index fingers and thumbs. Also called a close grip push up by some.
Push up – saved the most important for last. You need to master this move before you try any other variations. Start with hands just about shoulder-width apart. Your shoulders should be right over your elbows which should be right over your wrists. These joints should be “stacked.” Make sure you are in a good plank position (butt down, core pulled in). Start with your feet about hip distance apart. As you progress to higher reps, move your feet in to the point where they are touching. Once you can do high reps (30+ per set) in this position, move your hands in and progress to diamond push ups. Once you have achieved high reps on the diamond push ups (30+ per set), then have a blast doing other challenging varieties. Take the time to lock in and learn good form. Build the proper foundation.
Do you have any favorite push up variations? If so, please let us know about them in the comments. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” and share. Thanks!