Push-Ups Variations. What are Different Types of Pushups?

push ups variations

Most people know what a push-up is. This "simple" exercise has been recommended and used by athletes and active individuals all over the world for many years. Many say that pushups, along with pull-ups are the 2 best body weight exercises on the planet!

Pushups help to condition the body and build strength, manly in the upper body, as they work out the chest, triceps, back, shoulders and even the core. However not all pushups are one size fits all, there are many variations of them to target and emphasize specific muscles groups over others. 

In fact, there are several types of push-up variations you can add to your exercise routine to help beef up your fitness. We'll be going over several popular push-up variations and also talk about the general benefits of push-ups, as well as how you can properly perform the different variations.

We would be hard pressed not to mention the fact that pushups can also be utilized and practiced literally anywhere, no cost, no hassles, you can even do pushup challenges with friends, family or complete strangers without leaving your home!

What are Push-Ups?

what are pushups and the different types of push up variations

Push-ups are a basic exercise that can greatly benefit your fitness and health levels. This type of exercise strengthens and tones the upper body. It also helps engage many areas of the body to promote core and muscle strength. 

There are many ways to do a push-up, as we mentioned previously, but pushups generally involve an up and down motion of the body. Bodyweight is also utilized heavily in this activity, but weight can be added to increase difficulty. 

What Are the Benefits of Pushups?

1. Easy to Perform Anywhere

One of the biggest benefits of pushups is that they can be performed in any location. You don’t need special equipment to do a push-up. You just need to use your own body weight and strength, and maybe some creativity to perform this simple, but diverse movement

If you're new to this exercise it can take time to condition your body to perform a standard push-up, but once you have the right level of body strength, this is easily one of the best exercises you can do from the comfort of your home.

2. Push-Ups Target Multiple Muscle Groups

pushups target multiple muscle groups

Another great benefit of pushups is their ability to target multiple groups of muscles at once. When you do pushups, you condition your triceps, shoulders, chest, lower and upper back, your core, and with some more difficult forms, even your lower body and hips.

Most exercises don’t allow you to hit so many areas of your body so easily. So, while push-ups might seem simple, they can have a big impact on your fitness. 

According to one 2014 study, changing your angle or using different suspensions showed different muscle activation and proved beneficial in growing different muscle groups better then others. 

The takeaway here is be diverse in your pushup workouts, don't do the same thing every time, you need to continue to challenge your muscles. Standard push-ups in more stable conditions, provide greater increases in deltoid, and pectoral size, for instance.

Because there are so many different variations, changing your hand positions and angles, or even tempo can make a difference in gains, and keep things fun. 

study in 2016, did just that, which is it looked at different palmar widths in relation to muscular activation. Certain palmar widths were shown to increase and activate specific muscle groups better. Pectoralis major muscle activity was greater at widths of 50% & 100%, compared to 150%. 

How Do You Perform a Pushup?

How you perform a push-up will depend on the type of push-up you are doing, but there are some tips you'll want to keep in mind when doing any variation of a push-up. 

First, you should keep your posture straight. You shouldn’t be hunched over when you're doing a push-up, make sure your arms are fully extended, and your back is straight when you get into any push-up position. 

Your body should form a straight line, in addition. Starting out with a solid plank is a great way to set yourself for success with this exercise.

A Quick Glimpse of the Perfect Push-Up!

Top Variations of Pushups:

1. Regular Push-Up

The first push-up variation we'll discuss (can be seen in the video above) is your straight-up, old fashion, everybody knows, standard pushup. This is sometimes referred to as a military-style push-up, however the two can be slightly different. To do this push-up, get into a plank position. You'll want your arms extended and your feet about shoulder width (or slightly narrower) inches apart. 

a regular push up

Breathe, push down your palms into the ground. You want your elbows (90 degrees) to bend and your chest to almost make contact with the ground. Then rise back up into a plank position. Changing tempo and speed is okay, but remember this may alter different muscles group and activities of them slightly. Going too fast may also alter form.

2. Triangle Push-Up (diamond push up)

Triangle push-ups or diamond pushups are a little more challenging than your standard push-up. With this variation you can hit or activate your triceps more effectively, but form remains very important. 

You'll start out essentially the same as your typical pushup, but instead of having your arms spread wide, you'll bring them closer in and form a triangle/diamond shape with your hands. Then like with a standard push up, make your way down to the ground in a controlled fashion.

3. Wide Hands Push-Up

a wide push up

Wide hand push-ups can be extremely beneficial to your chest workout as well, changing to wide stance can activate your Serratus anterior muscles better then your standard pushup. 

It’s pretty simple to do and the modifications are not that drastic, you're essentially just moving your hand position out about 50% from the normal. Attempt to keep your hands and wrists at the same angle (or slightly outward) as a standard pushup. Try not to put to much additional torque on your wrists

Your lower body will remain in the same neutral position.

4. Hindu Push-Up

Hindu push-ups are another option you can try. You can get a nice shoulder activation, triceps and pectoral workout. Start again in a plank position with your hands shoulder width apart. 

This push-up variation, in a way combines a few basic yoga poses, the downward dog, and then you flow into a cobra pose in a way. So if you're familiar with yoga, this pushup might be a creative way of combining the two exercises. As you go from downward dog to cobra, you will extend your body in a push-up like motion, go down, then arch your spine into the cobra pose, then repeat. 

See video above!

5. Spiderman Push-Up

Spiderman push-ups are a challenging variation of the standard push-up that can help activate your core/abdominal muscles, better then your standard push up. 

Again, start out in a normal plank and go down for your push-up. However, unlike a normal push-up, you don’t keep your legs straight, on your downward motion, you will bring one leg out to the side and upward toward your bent elbow!

This creates a Spider-Man like body pose! 

See Video Above!

6. Archer Push-Up

The real benefit here of Archer pushups is that you're putting a lot more weight on one arm, or larger percentage of body weight on each arm at a time. This is fairly challenging so you'll want to have a good grasp on your capabilities before feeling as if this will be a successful maneuver for you. The Archer pushups offers the ability for the arm with less body weight to add some support, so it's not quite a one-arm pushup. 

You'll start out as you normally would in the plank position, but as you go down, lean your body towards one side more. One arm should be bent and tucked close to your body, this is the side you are leaning toward, while the other arm remains extended. 

Then bring yourself back up to the middle and standard plank, before alternating sides. Alternatively you could do several in a row on the same side.

7. Clap Push-Up

Clap push-ups are another challenging variation of this exercise and is certainly one that should be saved for when you have mastered several other types of pushups, as it can be difficult to do these without the proper conditioning/training. Let's not hurt ourselves here, right!

To do a clap push-up, everything starts out the same, the difference is as you come up, you'll push with some force into the ground with your palms, using your momentum and springing yourself up enough where you can clap your hands together. Try and keep your legs immobile and keep good position with your legs and feet.

In short, you lower your body down, push-up with force, clap, and then come back to the ground with your arms bent with some give. Don't return with straight arms as you could put to much for on your elbow joint.

8. Flying Push-Up/Superman Push-up

The flying push-up is one of the more difficult push-up variations, because it not only takes power (explosiveness), strength, speed, but also agility. It is a full body push-up. 

To start this push up, get into your normal plank type position with your arms extended toward the ground, as if you were doing a normal push up. You can either bring your legs together or keep them about shoulder width apart or slightly narrower. 

Then, lower yourself down, flexing at the elbows until they reach a 90 degree position. At this time some people pause for a brief second to collect themselves before propelling themselves forcefully upward. Others, use some momentum, and make it more of a single movement, down and then up!

You'll want your arms to come off the ground, throwing them straight in front of you, at the same time your propel your lower half of your body into the air. 

Immediately brace yourself, come down to the ground with your body. Be careful trying to come right back to the plank position as you may put to much strain on your shoulders and elbow joints.

A variation of this involves you bringing your legs off the ground as well, but this is for another conversation.

9. One-Arm Push-Up

The final push-up we'll discuss is the one-arm push-up. If you are looking to engage your core body strength, balance, musculature in your chest, this is an excellent push-up variation to go with. This works not only the upper body, but tension is placed on the thighs and glutes as well. 

This is not for the faint of heart though, did you see Rocky? 

You'll start the same way that you would with a normal military style push up. However we'll need to make some modifications to your base. Instead of pushing down on both arms, you use one arm. Tuck one of your arms behind you (or rest on your thigh) and keep your feet wide (like in the video) as you do this push-up, as this will give you a better foundation to descend. 

Your body may be slightly torqued, so as long as this is not painful for you, your positioning should be fine.

Final Thoughts!

Get all the way through these push variations and you know you're doing something right. Make sure to always use proper form, a brief warmup can help get the blood flowing before you start any pushup routine.

Always consult with a certified trainer to determine best variations for you body and to help prevent injury!


- https://www.wellandgood.com/best-push-up-variations/

- https://www.outsideonline.com/2390287/types-of-pushups


- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4126284/

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