Different Types Of Push Ups | How To & Their Benefits

The push-up is a very basic exercise that has been used for a long time. Many people look past the push-up because they think it’s too simple or that it’s not a good exercise for muscle growth. They couldn’t be any more wrong. Push-ups work several different muscles and are a great exercise to do when workout equipment is limited or when you’re trying to improve bodyweight strength and control. Try these different push-up variations to activate different muscle groups and test yourself.

Decline Push-Ups

Decline push-ups are a variation of push-ups that increases activation of your upper chest and front deltoids. Try doing these to bring up those lagging muscles.

push up variations

  • Lie on the floor face down and place your hands about shoulder width apart.
  • Push yourself up to a normal starting position.
  • Move your feet up to a box or bench. This will be your starting position.
  • Next, lower yourself down until your chest almost touches the floor as you inhale.
  • Now breathe out and press your upper body back up to the starting position while squeezing your chest.
  • After a brief pause at the top contracted position, you can begin to lower yourself downward again for as many repetitions as needed.

Alternating-Arm Medicine Ball Push-Ups

Medicine ball push-ups can be an awkward exercise for some. This exercise will test your balance and primarily activate your chest, front deltoids, and your triceps. In comparison to regular push-ups, you are getting a greater range of motion and stretch on the chest. Another benefit of doing medicine ball push-ups is the incorporation of stabilizer muscles that you may not normally activate.

push up variations

  • Start in the push-up position on the floor, keeping your hips down and back flat.
  • Place one hand on a medicine ball, while your other hand remains on the floor. Keep your feet spread a little bit wider than shoulder width to ensure greater stability. This will be the starting position of the exercise.
  • Keeping your body straight, bend your elbows and lower yourself towards the ground to where your chest almost touches the ground.
  • Push back up to full arm extension.
  • In a controlled motion, place the hand that was on the ground, on the medicine ball and the hand that was on the medicine ball, on the ground. This needs to be a controlled back and forth motion and it will take some practice to get it down.
  • Repeat for the desired amount of repetitions.

Handstand Push-Ups

Handstand push-ups are quite different than your normal push-up. Usually, push-ups primarily activate your chest, but since you are in a handstand position, your shoulders are the primary working muscles in this movement. This is a challenging exercise and should be done with caution.

push up variations

  • With your back to the wall bend at the waist and place both hands on the floor at shoulder width.
  • Kick yourself up against the wall with your arms straight. Your body should be upside down with the arms and legs fully extended. Keep your whole body as straight as possible. CAUTION: If doing this for the first time, have a spotter help you. Also, make sure that you keep facing the wall with your head, rather than looking down.
  • Slowly lower yourself to the ground as you inhale until your head almost touches the floor. Tip: It is of utmost importance that you come down slow in order to avoid head injury.
  • Push yourself back up slowly as you exhale until your elbows are nearly locked.
  • Repeat for the desired amount of repetitions.

One-Arm Push-Ups

One-arm pushups are by far one of the most difficult of any of the push-up variations. It takes great body control and strength. One-arm pushups activate your chest (specifically your outer chest), your triceps, front deltoids, rhomboids, and your lats.

push up variations

  • Start by laying flat on the ground.
  • Move into a position supporting your weight on your toes and one arm. Your arm should be placed under the shoulder of the working arm. Your legs should be extended, and for this movement you may need a wider base, placing your feet further apart than what would be normal for a regular push-up. Narrowing the width of your feet will increase the difficulty of the exercise if you’re looking for a challenge.
  • Maintain good posture, and place your free hand behind your back.
  • Lower yourself by allowing the elbow to flex until your nose touches the ground.
  • Lower slowly and push your body back up.
  • Repeat for the desired amount of repetitions (it may not be many reps due to the difficulty).



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