10 Effective Push-Up Variations for Different Fitness Levels
If you haven’t started incorporating push-ups into your workout routine, start now! Push-ups are great for the entire upper body including the chest, shoulders, biceps and triceps, as well as a real challenge for your core and glutes. Whether you are a workout beginner or fitness pro, this functional bodyweight move is a must in your fitness routine and here are 10 push up variations for you to try.
1. Wall Push-Offs and Wall Push-Ups
This variation of push ups is performed on an incline (your upper body higher than your lower body) using a wall or step. The greater the angle of your body and the ground, the easier it is. Place your hands on the incline and lower down into a push-up. Then, push yourself up powerfully until your hands release from the incline, keep your core nice and tight and then go right back down into the next push-up. Make sure you land with soft elbows to avoid hyperextension.
Are you a beginner?
Start with easy wall push-offs (with your elbows slightly bent) before you add push-ups.
2. Inclined Push-ups
Are wall push-ups too easy for you? Then you’re ready for the next level. Use a chair or a box and do your push-ups off of it. Make sure your hands are directly below your chest and that your core muscles are tight.
3. Knee Push-ups
This push-up variation is done on the floor. Support your body with your knees instead of your toes. You can lift your feet and cross your calves in the air or rest them on the floor, whichever is easier for you. Get in the push-up position and place your hands directly beneath your shoulders. Rest your knees on the floor and tighten your core. Slowly lower your upper body to the floor using your arm and shoulder muscles. Then push yourself up again to the starting position. Keep your back straight; your upper body should remain stable.
4. Push-up Knee Drops
Start this exercise in a regular push-up position. Tighten your core. Now rest your knees on the floor and do a push-up. When you’re finished, stretch your legs out again, controlling your body tension, and start from the beginning again.
With this exercise you will slowly build body tension, making it possible for you to hold the position longer.
5. Side-to-side push-up
For this variation you are going to start with your hands on the floor closer than shoulder width (as in the narrow push-up). Keeping your knees (or feet) planted, lift your right hand up and move it further to the right as you do the push-up. Push yourself up and bring the right hand back to center. Repeat on the left side.
6. Up & Down Push-up
This exercise strengthens both your arms and improves your body tension. Start off in the push-up position with your arms extended. Now move into a low plank, then push yourself up again. Keep your body as stable as possible without swinging your pelvis. Keep your legs and core tight. If you need a break, you can hold each position for a few seconds before you move your arms up and down.
The closer together your legs are, the tougher it is to hold the position.
Just as the name says, this is a push-up performed in an elbow plank. Get into plank position on your elbows (make sure your elbows are directly underneath your shoulders). Lower your chest towards the ground and squeeze your shoulder blades together and then drive through your forearms to push yourself back up.
7. Commander push-up
First perform a regular push-up on your hands and toes. After one push-up, engage your core and bring your right knee towards the outside of your right elbow then back. Do another push-up and repeat the knee-to-elbow on the left side. This variation will really work the obliques!
8. Pike Push-ups
This push-up variation mainly works your shoulders and triceps. Start from the yoga position “downward-facing dog”. Your weight should be on the tips of your toes and palms, your arms close to your chest. Now bend your elbows and lower your upper body toward the floor. Then push yourself away from the floor again. The power should come from your shoulders and not your hips. The shorter the distance between your legs and hands, the more difficult the exercise is, giving your shoulders a tougher workout.
Put a pillow on the floor the first few times you try this exercise, that way you won’t hurt yourself if you fall on your face.
9. Push-up jack
Start out in a plank position on your hands with your feet together. As you lower down into the push-up, jump your legs out to a wider stance and then jump them back in as you push yourself up. This variation will really get your heart rate up.
Want more of a challenge?
Try to jump into a push-up position while moving your arms and legs at the same time.
10. Alligator Push-up
The challenging part of this push-up variation is combining the movements of the commander push-ups. As you move your elbow toward your knee, drop down into a push-up, come up, and extend your leg at the same time. Repeat this on the other side. You can make this exercise even harder by moving forward as you do the push-up combination.