The humble push up (or the press up, depending on where you live) is a great way of building some lean muscle on your chest and triceps without using any equipment.
It’s one of the mainstays of any bodyweight workout programme and also has a role to play in circuit training and working out with weights.
It works. It’s a simple as that. You can just drop to the floor and rep out a few.
But the problem is, the only way to add progression is to do more. You can’t add any weight. And it can get a bit boring doing the same exercise all the time.
Well, you can mix it up by dropping a few different variations of the good old push up into your workout routines. Here are 10 different variations for you to have a go at. Enjoy!
The Basic Push Up
Not much to report on here, it’s a basic press up or push up!
1. Jumping Jack Push Up
The jumping jack push up works your whole body and takes the press up to a whole new level. As well as working your chest and triceps, this move also improves your core strength.
Begin in a push up position and as you lower your body, simultaneously jump your feet outwards so that they are slightly wider than hip distance. Then, jump your feet back towards each other as you push back up into the high position.
Keep your body in a strong and straight plank position throughout the move and maintain a solid core.
2. Tricep Push Up
This exercise really does work those triceps and will help you get those arms popping out of your shirt!
Very similar to a regular press up, just place your hands closer together, you can even have them touching.
Lower your body down under control and focus all the tension into your triceps. Try to keep your elbows as close to your body as possible to increase the focus on your triceps.
3. Moving Push Up
This one works your entire body and is a great weapon to add to your workout arsenal.
Get into your push up position with both hands on the floor under your chest.
Move your left hand and leg out to the side as you drop down into a low position. Now move your right arm and leg to meet your left, move up into a high push up position.
Repeat once more in this direction, then move back to your right for two moves.
4. Spiderman Push Up
This version adds hip flexion into the mix and can really get your chest, obliques, triceps and hip flexors working hard, as you carry out an oblique crunch as well as a press up.
Named because you kinda look like the superhero as you carry out a wall climb, but just on the floor.
Start in the standard push up position, with your hands under your shoulders and your body in a straight line. Then, as you lower towards the floor, bend your elbows out to the side and lift one foot off the floor, bend the knee to the side and up to hip level. Repeat the action for each side and alternate.
5. Side Plank Push Up
Get into the normal push up position and perform a push up.
As you come up, shift your weight onto one side of your body and twist to the side while bringing the arm up towards the ceiling in a side plank.
Lower the arm back to the floor, perform another push up and then twist to the other side. Repeat.
6. Side Push Up
Place your hands on the floor to the side of you, with the fingers of both your hands facing into each other – see the photo above to get the positioning right. Now get into a side plank position and press your body towards the floor.
The first few times that you try this move it may feel a bit odd, as you need to twist your torso a little.
Stick with it as it works your chest, triceps, obliques and full core.
Alternate sides so that you don’t build up a muscle imbalance.
7. Arm & Leg Lift Push Up
I’ve missed a couple of steps out of this photo sequence, so here it is:
Get yourself into a push up position and lower yourself into the low position. Push back up into the high position and as you reach the peak, lift your left leg and arm off the ground. Try to hold them both at the same height.
Place your left arm and leg back on the ground and lower yourself down to the low position again. Push back up into the high position and as you reach the peak, this time lift your right leg and right arm off the ground.
This is a great press up variation to give you an all over body workout and also strengthens your lower back, lessening the likelihood of you injuring your back from any heavy lifting exercises that you may carry out.
8. Decline Push Up
This advanced version of the press up seriously increases the difficulty and significantly upgrades the amount f muscle that you can pack on with a body weight exercise.
Additionally, adjusting the height of the bench allows you to modify the intensity of your workout.
As well as targeting the muscles of the chest, the shoulders, and triceps, having to maintain the correct body position stimulates muscle growth throughout the entire core, legs and back.
Although you need basic equipment for this exercise, if you’re strong enough you can actually press your feet up against a wall instead. Try it!
9. Squat Push Up
This is one of the toughest press up variants that you can do. I discovered this when I did the Insanity Workout from Beachbody.
Start off in a half squat position with your arms out in front of you. Begin to lean forwards and drop your hands to the floor. Carry out a press up with your legs still bent.
As you begin to push your body up from the low position, really press hard and spring your body off the floor back into the half squat position.
This is a great all over body workout that really makes you burn.
10. One Arm Push Up
It’s likely that the first time you tried your first one arm push up you ended up on your face.
The trick is to make sure you spread your legs a little wider than you would a normal push up and also tilt your body a little as you descend into the low position.
A great way of mastering this ultimate of hard man push ups is to start it by practicing on an incline, using your weight bench, a table or even against a wall.
As you get stronger and more used to the move, you can progress down to floor level. Good luck and grind out those reps!
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So that’s it, 10 alternatives to the basic press up. Give them all a shot and make sure you repeat to exhaustion for a full-on out-and-out chest and triceps blast.
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