Push-Up Variations: Unique and Primary Push-Up Types

Push-Up Variations: Unique and Primary Push-Up Types

Push-ups are one of the most reliable ways to work out your upper body. They are incredibly effective at strengthening your core, upper body, and back. Push-ups can be the focus of a workout or used between other exercises in short reps. Unfortunately, doing the same pushup routine every day can get dull and may not benefit your muscles as much as if you were to do a push-up variation.

A push-up variation is a compound exercise that targets similar muscles to that of a traditional push-up, but in ways that a standard push-up is not able to achieve. Push-ups do not have to be tedious. By targeting different muscles or adding weight to increase the difficulty, these push-up variations are an effective workout to add to your routine. 

A few main push-up variations include the pike, Hindu, and one-arm variations. Depending on your weight, you may want to try a modified push-up, such as starting the exercise on your knees. 

Whether you are new to exercise or are a professional athlete, you can find a push-up alternative that will meet your needs. Although some shoulder positioning push-up variations can be seen as controversial, many beginner-level variations are easy on your body and worth trying. Like the Aztec push-up, some more difficult push-ups will require a deeper explanation and more experience. 

Here are 27 push-up variations that will keep your workouts fun and exciting, including the following. 

  1. Hindu Push-Up 
  2. Pike Push-Up
  3. Decline Push-Up
  4. Archer Push-Up
  5. Incline Push-Up
  6. Eccentric Push-Up
  7. One-Arm Push-Up
  8. Weighted Push-Up 
  9. Staggered Hands Push-Up
  10. Wide Hands Push-Up
  11. Military (Strict) Push-Up 
  12. Diamond (Triangle) Push-Up
  13. Cross-Body Push-Up
  14. Sphinx Push-Up (Triceps Extension)
  15. Spiderman (Side Kick) Push-Up
  16. Power and Clap Push-Up 
  17. Flying Push-Up
  18. Push-Up On Your Knees
  19. Feet Stacked Push-Up
  20. Tiger Push-Up
  21. Dive Bomber Push-Up
  22. Explosive Double Clap Push-Up
  23. Aztec Push-Up
  24. Both Hands on Medicine Balls Push-Up
  25. Hands on a Stability Ball Push-Up
  26. Renegade Push-Up
  27. Suspension Strap Push-Up 

1. Hindu Push-Up

The Hindu push-up is a push-up variation focused on the pectorals, deltoids, and triceps. It’s an effective strength training exercise for wrestlers and martial artists. In addition, because so much motion is in Hindu push-ups, people going through physical therapy and rehab also benefit from the exercise.

The arm and shoulder muscles hold your body in the standard push-up position until you move into the downward dog yoga position. From there, pivot to upward dog, which works your joints and improves flexibility.

Push your chest forward while in the upward dog position. Holding this pose strengthens the chest, delts, and triceps. The longer you can hold the pose without needing release, the stronger your spine will get. Keep your shoulder blades pulled back and your legs tight to strengthen the pose.

One common mistake when doing Hindu push-ups is not smoothly transitioning from position to position. Jerky movements can harm your joints, and not fully entering a pose won’t benefit your muscles as much as the exercise should.

Tips to increase the efficiency of Hindu push-ups include anything that affects your flexibility. Since the exercise itself uses the downward dog yoga pose, trying other poses can help. While yoga doesn’t use explosive motion, holding your body weight in one pose for a minute or longer still helps build muscles.

If you don’t feel capable of doing Hindu push-ups quickly to build a sweat, take your time with the motions. Like yoga practice, going slowly still uses your muscles to hold your body weight in specific poses. You can use it as a cool-down exercise when doing Hindu push-ups at a slower pace.

Hindu push-ups aren’t too tricky at the base level. There are ways to slow down the routine and modify it to meet you where you are. However, if you’re a more advanced athlete, you can still use these push-ups to strengthen different muscle groups.

2. Pike Push-Up

The pike push-up is a push-up variation focused on deltoids. Athletes and bodybuilders who want to increase their shoulder strength benefit from this push-up exercise. Beginners should work their way up to this exercise.

Because pike push-ups work the shoulders so much, you should take it slow, starting with two sets of five reps twice a week. You don’t want to overdo it and strain your delts. As you get familiar with the exercise, you can add more reps to feel the muscle strength in your core. Here’s how to perform this push-up. 

  1. Start in the standard push-up position. 
  2. Lift your hips until you’re in the downward dog pose. 
  3. Hold your body in that position, then bend your elbows so that your upper body lowers to the floor. 
  4. Engage your shoulder muscles to hold yourself in place before rising back to downward dog.

One common mistake when doing pike pushups is losing your grip when you’re lowering yourself to the floor. Face-planting in the middle of a push-up is painful, so you need to move slowly and ensure your muscles will support you.

Our tip to increase the efficiency of pike push-ups is to focus on your form. Since you develop so much strength with this exercise, you want to ensure you’re doing it correctly to get the most out of it. Lowering your head as close to the floor as possible is one way to push the limits of this variation.

Another way to modify the pike push-up for increased efficiency is leveling up to make the exercise even harder. Get into the regular position, but lift one leg at a time before you bend your elbows. Doing this places more weight on your remaining three extremities, so you’ll have to work on balance and coordination as well.

The pike push-up is slightly more challenging than the Hindu push-up. Working your way up from the Hindu push-up to the pike push-up is a good idea because there’s a little more movement to the pike push-up. You need to be careful lowering yourself onto your elbows and then shifting back to downward dog. Make sure you should have total control of your body.

3. Decline Push-Up

The decline push-up is a push-up variation focused on pectorals, deltoids, biceps, and triceps. These advanced push-ups are best for athletes and bodybuilders involved in weightlifting and strength training.

To learn how to do push-ups of this type, you need to keep your feet higher than your head, so you need a bench for your feet. First, get on your hands and knees, then extend your body to prop your feet on the bench one at a time.

Bend your elbows until your chest almost touches the floor. Look up as you lower your chest to elongate your spine better. Be careful not to arch your back. Push yourself back up until your elbows are fully extended.

When doing a decline push-up, one common mistake is allowing your hips to sag. If you don’t keep your body straight, you’ll strain and possibly damage your spine.

There are tips to increase the efficiency of this variation. Changing the height of the bench can make this a more challenging exercise. When your feet are at waist level, you have more weight on your arms, so you’ll work those muscles even more.

Another tip to increase the efficiency of this push-up is to add more reps to each set and add another set or two to your workout. You’ll be using the same muscles but pushing them to do more with each extra rep, so it’ll pay off in time.

Decline push-ups are a challenging variation, so it’s best left for bodybuilders, weightlifters, and athletes who already have a solid exercise routine. Without risking muscle damage, you want to work your way up to these push-ups. 

4. Archer Push-Up

The archer push-up is a push-up variation focused on the pecs and delts. It’s an assisted one-arm push-up that gives you a chance to build strength before asking too much of your body. Though it’s a gateway exercise, it’s best for advanced athletes looking to develop arm muscles.

As you follow the standard push-ups technique, put your arms wider than shoulder-width apart so that you have a larger foundation. Bend your right elbow and allow your body to lower while stretching out your left arm for support. Push yourself back up, keeping your body straight.

Alternate arms. Bend the left elbow, lower your body, and support yourself with your right arm. You can increase the muscle strength needed for this push-ups exercise by bringing your arms closer to your body but still alternating sides.

One common mistake when doing the archer push-up is thinking that it prepares you for a one-arm push-up immediately. However, not having your other arm available for support can harm your muscles if you’re not ready for that step.

A tip to increase the efficiency of the archer push-up is to allow the shoulder and hand bearing the weight to rotate as you lower your body. Keeping it rigid could cause damage, but giving a little flexibility helps your muscles find the ideal position for comfort and strength.

Another modification to increase efficiency is to ramp up your speed. You don’t want to feel like you’re racing through your workout, but going quickly can increase your heartbeat and also test your endurance. Mastering the archer push-up at a quick pace prepares you for the one-arm push-up and other challenging variations.

While the archer push-up is a gateway to more challenging exercises, it’s pretty advanced on its own. This exercise is best recommended for athletes with plenty of workout endurance. If you already have a strict workout routine, you could sub in archer push-ups and handle them easily. Beginning and intermediate bodybuilders should work up to this variation.

5. Incline Push-Up

An incline push-up is a variation focused on the pectorals and core muscles. The incline takes the pressure off of your arms and shoulders to develop chest strength. These push-ups are suitable for anyone from a beginner athlete to a bodybuilder.

Find a sturdy bench to use as your inclined surface. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and place your hands firmly on the bench. Keep your spine straight while bending your elbows and lower yourself towards the bench. Bring your body back up and repeat the exercise 10 times.

One common mistake with the incline push-up is not having a firm grip on your bench. If the bench is slippery or can slide, you’ll lose your balance and hurt yourself.

A tip to modify the incline push-up might make it more efficient if you’re not quite ready for the proper form. For example, you can step a foot away from a wall and lean forward to do an incline push-up. If you stand on the balls of your feet, you’ll still have most of your weight on your arms to get a workout.

Another tip for increasing the efficiency of the incline push-up is to pull your arms and elbows even tighter to your upper body. As a result, you have a smaller support base, so your triceps work even harder to overcompensate.

Incline push-ups have so many variations that they’re easy for anyone. Simply modify the exercise to meet you where you are.

6. Eccentric Push-Up

The eccentric push-up is a variation for the pectorals. It’s an excellent exercise for beginners wanting to get into strength training because it only requires your body weight.

Get on the floor on your hands and knees before extending one leg at a time. Put your arms in a standard push-up position and slowly bend your elbows. Bring your knees back up under your hips when your chest touches the ground. Practicing this exercise builds the strength for standard push-ups.

One common mistake with the eccentric push-up is squeezing your shoulder blades. Many people focus on their shoulders instead of letting their elbows do the work.

A tip for increasing the efficiency of the eccentric push-up is to keep your chin down so your spine stays straight and rigid. It’s tempting to look up while you’re exercising, but having your chin down significantly improves your form.

Another modification to make the eccentric push-up more efficient is to ramp up your speed and reps. While this exercise can be slow and simple, being able to increase the pace will positively affect your heart rate and how much burn you feel in your muscles.

The eccentric push-up is one of the most straightforward variations to do. Beginning athletes and bodybuilders love how easy it is to get the proper form and feel the benefits in your pecs right away.

7. One-Arm Push-Up

A one-arm push-up is a push-up variation focused on the biceps and triceps. Athletes and bodybuilders who have mastered standard push-ups and want to continue pushing themselves use one-arm push-ups to develop core stability while maintaining their upper-body strength.

Get into a standard push-up position with your feet shoulder-width apart. Then, tuck in one arm’s elbow and keep the other arm straight out at your side, without touching your body or the floor.

As you lower yourself down with one arm, you should be able to hold your weight steady and allow your chest to touch the floor. Next, lift yourself back up using the same arm. If you’re unable to manage this, keep trying archer push-ups until you have enough upper-body strength.

One common mistake in a one-arm push-up is allowing your elbow to flare out. Keeping it close to your body not only works your biceps and triceps more but also prevents joint pain.

A tip for increasing the efficiency of the one-arm push-up is keeping your other arm next to your body, but with each rep, you hold it out a little further. This hold changes your center of balance and keeps all your muscles activated instead of allowing them to get into a slump by keeping your arm in the same position.

Another modification to make the one-arm push-up more efficient and intense is to bring your feet a bit closer together. You should bring them in an inch at a time so you can ensure you still have enough support to work out properly. Having a narrower base will make your arms work even harder.

The one-arm push-up is pretty tricky because you need the upper-body strength to hold your entire body weight at once. It’s best to ease into this exercise even if you have the muscles because you need to have balance and coordination as well.

8. Weighted Push-Up

A weighted push-up is a push-up variation focused on pecs and delts. Bodybuilders and athletes wear weighted vests or put weight plates on their backs to build their core in training.

The step-by-step push-up form for a weighted push-up is precisely the same as a standard version. Your muscles get more out of it since you’ve added extra weight they have to lift and release.

One common mistake in a weighted push-up is letting it become a balancing act. For example, when you have more than one plate on your back, you might focus more on keeping the weight steady and let your form slip. Using rubber-coated weights or a weighted vest solves this problem.

A tip for increasing the efficiency of the weighted push-up is to ensure you’re putting the weights in the right spot. Your upper back is broad enough to hold them, but they should actually go closer to your hips. Adding weight here increases the center of your mass, so you’ll feel like your body is heavier than usual instead of knowing that weight is out of place on your back.

Another modification to make the weighted push-up more efficient is to add weights to some of the other variations on this list. If you’ve already mastered the standard push-up with weights added, why not try a rep or two of a different version with weight added? Again, go slowly so that you don’t overexert yourself. You might find a new favorite routine.

The hardness level of this push-up greatly depends on your overall athleticism and how much weight you add. Beginners can add five pounds and still have an easy time with this routine.

9. Staggered Hands Push-Up

The staggered hands push-up is a push-up variation focused on triceps, delts, and pecs. This intermediate exercise helps athletes work on their balance while increasing body strength.

Get in the standard push-up position and then step your right hand slightly above your right shoulder while bringing your left hand slightly below your left shoulder. Lower your body until your chest touches the ground and hold the position before bringing yourself back up. Alternate your hand position each time.

One common mistake with a staggered hands push-up is getting the hips out of alignment. Even though you stagger your hands, the rest of your body should be straight and even.

A tip for increasing the efficiency of the staggered hands push-up is to bring your arms in slightly. Anytime you’re giving yourself a narrower base, your muscles work even harder to keep your weight balanced.

Another modification to make the staggered hands push-up more efficient is to stagger your feet as well. When your right hand is above your right shoulder, bring your right foot up slightly as well. Alternate your feet and see how your leg muscles feel after a set.

The staggered hands push-ups are an intermediate exercise best suited for athletes increasing their upper body strength.

10. Wide Hands Push-Up

The wide hands push-up is a push-up variation focused on delts and pecs. Athletes and bodybuilders progress to this more advanced push-up technique when they’ve mastered standard push-ups and want to continue developing core strength.

As the name suggests, put your hands slightly wider than your shoulders. When you lower your body, stop as your chest goes below your elbows and lift yourself back up.

One common mistake with the wide hands push-up is thinking they’re easier than standard push-ups. The wide stance disperses weight evenly, but it can cause wrist problems if you’re not careful. Start slow, and don’t do more sets than your body can handle.

A tip for increasing the efficiency of the wide hands push-up is to look at the floor about a foot in front of your position. Looking forward in this way keeps your spine straight and your neck engaged, so you don’t slump and have poor form.

Another modification to make the wide hands push-up more efficient is to slowly lower yourself closer to the ground. The standard form is to stop at your elbows, but if you go down a bit more, very slowly, you’ll feel the burn in your pecs.

The “wide hands” push-up variation is intermediate to advanced, depending on what form you follow and how many reps you do. Once beginners are comfortable with basic push-ups, they can try a “wide hands” push-up modified to their strength.

11. Military (Strict) Push-Up

The military (strict) push-up is a push-up variation focused on the triceps. People of all shapes and sizes practice military push-ups because they want to focus on their body’s strength and formation.

The fundamental difference between military and standard push-ups is how you do your reps. The position is the same, but you only lower your chest until your arms are parallel to the ground.

One common mistake with the military (strict) push-up is focusing on time over form. The Army Physical Fitness test has a two-minute time limit, so many people try to do as many push-ups as possible in that time, even if their form suffers.

A tip for increasing the efficiency of the military (strict) push-up is to do 200 with the fewest breaks. You don’t have to do a set of 200, but see if you can break it up into just two sets. The speed adds an element of cardio to the exercise.

Another modification to make the military (strict) push-up is to stick to the military’s time limit. Try to see how many push-ups you can do in two minutes, ensuring you have proper form. Then try to do the same amount in 90 seconds, or try to do 20 more push-ups in the two-minute limit.

Since military (strict) push-ups are basic push-ups with some guidelines in place, beginners will have no problem doing this exercise. It’s very easy to attempt but will take practice to master.

12. Diamond (Triangle) Push-Up

The diamond (triangle) push-up is a push-up variation focused on the triceps. Athletes use this advanced push-up technique to focus purely on the triceps instead of strengthening their chest and shoulders too much.

Once in the standard push-up position, you need to make your thumbs and pointer fingers form a diamond below your chest. You’ll concentrate all your weight here.

One common mistake with the diamond push-up is trying to keep going if it’s hard for you. This exercise looks simple, so people go in thinking they can do as many push-ups as usual. Unfortunately, you’ll most likely only do half as many diamond push-ups as usual.

A tip for increasing the efficiency of the diamond push-up is to change your hand position to a triangle. It sounds minor, but your thumbs aren’t making as large of a base as they were in a diamond. As a result, only the tips of your thumbs will touch the ground, so your triceps will work harder.

Another modification to make the diamond push-up more efficient is to create a bigger diamond if you’re struggling with your form. Instead of having your thumbs and pointer fingers touching, spread them apart an inch. You might find the form easier to adhere to with a broader base.

The diamond push-up is a more complex, advanced exercise because it isolates the triceps instead of depending on your shoulders and chest.

13. Cross-Body Push-Up

The cross-body push-up is a push-up variation focused on your abdominal muscles. It sounds strange, but it’s true. Athletes use this advanced exercise to work on coordination in a full-body workout.

When you do regular push-ups, elevate them to cross-body push-ups by extending alternating legs beneath your body as you lower yourself. As you let your body down, kick your left leg up and cross it over your body. Come back up into the primary position, then use your right leg.

One common mistake with the cross-body push-up is not alternating legs. Some people want to work one leg repeatedly before changing sides, but that will exhaust your upper body much quicker.

A tip for increasing the efficiency of the cross-body push-up is to alternate both legs in one rep. This requires speed and agility, so athletes love to add this motion to the routine. Control your body as much as possible to ensure smooth movements.

Another modification to make the cross-body push-up more efficient is to try this exercise in conjunction with the one-arm push-up. Athletes with impeccable balance will enjoy the challenge of holding their weight on one arm while changing their center of gravity with a leg crossover.

This push-up is an advanced routine that requires focus and agility. Athletes and bodybuilders with developed strength and coordination will benefit from this workout.

14. Sphinx Push-Up (Triceps Extension)

The sphinx push-up is a push-up variation focused on the triceps. All levels of athletes can use this exercise to target their triceps.

Get into a push-up position, but let your forearms rest on the ground. Your back and core should hold your upper body in position; don’t put weight on your forearms. Push your body up through the palms of your hands and lock your arms. Lower yourself back onto your forearms.

One common mistake with the sphinx push-up is resting your weight on your forearms. Instead, you should keep your core engaged for the best results.

A tip for increasing the efficiency of the sphinx push-up is to hold the upright position once you reach it. It’s a practice common in yoga to develop muscle strength by testing your endurance.

Another modification to make the sphinx push-up more efficient is to hold your elbows a bit higher than the standard position. This puts more weight on your hands and forearms to work for a different muscle group.

The sphinx push-up is an intermediate exercise. Beginners who have mastered basic push-ups might like feeling the burn in different muscles as they progress to more intense workouts.

15. Spiderman (Side Kick) Push-Up

The Spiderman (side kick) push-up is a push-up variation focused on your pecs and hip flexors. This advanced exercise is excellent for athletes who want to work on their coordination. This variation is a type of step-through push-ups that exercise your legs, arms, and shoulders.

When you’re in the primary push-up position, start to lower yourself down. Pull one of your knees up and out to touch it to your elbow. You’ll look like Spiderman climbing a wall. Put your leg back in place as you raise your body, then alternate with the other leg.

One common mistake with the Spiderman (side kick) push-up is allowing your hips to sag. This form harms your back, so you need to keep your body rigid.

A tip for increasing the efficiency of the Spiderman (side kick) push-up is to increase your speed. Pretend you’re Spiderman, quickly scaling a building to stop the villain and race against your stopwatch.

Another modification to make the Spiderman (side kick) push-up more efficient is to lift your knees past your elbows. You’ll feel the burn in your quads after just a few reps.

This variation is more difficult because of the advanced motions required to do it properly.

16. Power and Clap Push-Up

The power and clap push-up is a push-up variation focused on explosive strength. Athletes use this exercise to work on speed and coordination.

Get in the position to do basic push-ups. As you lift your body back up, clap. You’ll feel like you’re floating in mid-air, but you need to quickly get your hands back in position before you hit the ground.

One common mistake with the power and clap push-up has the wrong timing. For example, if your body is descending when you put your hands in position, you might hurt your wrists.

A tip for increasing the power and clap push-up efficiency is to try and clap more than once. Of course, you should only try this after being sure about your ability to complete the basic form. 

Another modification to make the power and clap push-up more efficient is to increase your speed. See if you can do each set fast enough to keep a regular beat with your claps.

This push-up variation is best for intermediate to advanced athletes because of the timing and coordination required.

17. Flying Push-Up

The flying push-up is a push-up variation focused on the chest and back. Athletes do this exercise to increase speed and coordination.

Do a standard push-up. When you raise your body back into the starting position, push yourself up and thrust your arms out in front of you, like Superman flying. Get your hands back in position before your body gets too low.

One common mistake with the flying push-up is not getting your body back into the correct position before continuing your reps.

A tip for increasing the efficiency of the flying push-up is to put your hands in different positions. Some people put their arms out to the sides like a bird flying. You can even alternate arm positions for each rep to work different muscles.

Another modification to make the flying push-up more efficient is to push yourself up even higher. As you practice this push-up and increase your upper body strength, you might find that you can “fly” higher and higher in time.

This is an advanced exercise because you should have total control over your body. Inexperienced athletes might feel out of control when they’re in the air and then hurt themselves as they try to overcompensate.

18. Push-Up On Your Knees

The push-up on your knees is a variation used to strengthen your glutes. Anyone can do this exercise to strengthen their muscles or build to other variations on this list.

Get into the standard push-up position, but have your knees in the kneeling position. As you lower and lift your body, you’ll rock slightly on your knees.

One common mistake with the push-up on your knees variation is rounding your back. Doing this lessens the effect the exercise has on your glutes. 

A tip for increasing the efficiency of the push-up on your knees is to step your knees back from beneath your hips. You’ll have to use your arm muscles more to lower yourself to the ground smoothly. 

Another modification to make the push-up on your knees more efficient is to bring your arms and elbows closer to your body. Since your foundation is smaller, even with your knees in play, you’ll feel the burn in more muscles as you keep your motions smooth.

This is an easy push-up variation, so anyone can do it regardless of fitness level. There are ways to increase the difficulty, but the basic push-up is simple.

19. Feet Stacked Push-Up

The feet stacked push-up is a variation focused on delts, pecs, and triceps. This variation is an intermediate exercise for bodybuilders to develop their upper body strength.

From the standard push-up position, stack your feet so all your weight is on one foot. Lower yourself as you would with a regular push-up.

One common mistake with the feet stacked push-up is letting your core relax. Many people focus more on their feet than tightening their muscles.

A tip for increasing the efficiency of the feet stacked push-up is to alternate which foot bears the weight after each rep. This quick change adds motion and agility to the exercise while increasing your coordination.

Another modification to make the feet stacked push-up more efficient is integrating this form into the one-arm push-up. Your body will work to balance more and find a new center of gravity as you raise and lower your weight.

This exercise is an intermediate push-up that athletes and bodybuilders can do to increase their upper body strength as they work towards some of the more advanced variations on this list.

20. Tiger Push-Up

The tiger push-up is a variation for your triceps and deltoids. This intermediate variation is significant for people who have progressed past standard and beginner push-ups.

Get into a push-up position with your palms under your shoulders. Lower your body until your forearms touch the ground, then lift yourself back up.

One common mistake with the tiger push-up is people lowering their chest too far. You need to focus more on your forearm position with this exercise.

A tip for increasing the efficiency of the tiger push-up is to stay in place when you’ve lowered your body to the ground. Holding your weight on your hands without allowing your forearms to touch the ground will help strengthen all the activated muscles.

Another modification to make the tiger push-up more efficient is to add the feet stacked form to it. Put all your weight on one foot while you lower yourself, hold your forearms above the ground, and lift yourself back to the starting position.

The basic tiger push-up is an intermediate exercise for people who have mastered basic push-ups and want to challenge their muscles even more before moving on to building mass.

21. Dive Bomber Push-Up

The dive bomber push-up is a variation focused on delts, pecs, and abs. Athletes use this advanced exercise to strengthen their core.

Start in a downward dog position like the Hindu push-up. Lower your upper body between your arms and sink down towards the floor, swooping like a dive bomber. Push yourself up so you have the momentum to get back into the downward dog.

One common mistake with the dive bomber push-up is letting your hips sink too low. Instead, they should stay level with your shoulders.

A tip for increasing the efficiency of the diver bomber push-up is to hold yourself in the dive bomb position to the count of 30 before swooping back into a downward dog. Many people rely on the momentum of the dive bomb to get back into position, so if you can hold your body in place and still move back to the starting position, you’ll feel all your muscles burning.

Another modification to make the dive bomber push-up more efficient is eliminating pauses between reps. Harness your body’s momentum and keep going from position to position smoothly. See if you can do ten reps with no break between them.

This exercise is an advanced push-up that requires a lot of coordination and control over your body. People who aren’t experienced or lack upper body strength could get hurt trying it.

22. Explosive Double Clap Push-Up

The explosive double clap push-up is a variation for speed and coordination. This is an advanced exercise, best for athletes with strength and agility. You’re upping the ante from the clap push-up by clapping once in front of your chest and once behind your back.

One common mistake with the explosive double clap push-up variation is not having enough time to clap twice safely.

A tip for increasing the efficiency of the explosive double clap push-up is to ramp up the claps. Try doing two in front of your chest and two behind. Or alternate by putting one in front, one behind, one in front, and then one behind. This requires impeccable muscle control and agility.

Another modification to make the explosive double clap push-up more efficient is to keep going without taking a break between each rep. It’s tempting to rest for even a few seconds before getting back to it, but see if you can harness your momentum and keep doing ten reps before pausing.

This push-up is an advanced move because it requires agility and control over your body. Anytime you’re taking your hands off the ground while doing push-ups, you need to be an advanced athlete or bodybuilder.

23. Aztec Push-Up

An Aztec push-up is a variation for agility. It’s more demanding than the previous variation, so it’s better left for advanced athletes.

After you lower yourself into a standard push-up, push with your arms so you explode into the air. Keep your hands low so you can touch your toes in mid-air. When you land on the ground, jump back into a push-up position.

One common mistake with the Aztec push-up is trying it when you’re just a beginner. Even people who have mastered clap push-ups still have trouble with this variation.

A tip for increasing the efficiency of the Aztec push-up is holding your toes while you’re off the ground. Instead of touching them and then prepping your body to get back into position, hold them until the last second. You’ll feel the adrenaline pumping through your body at the close call.

Another modification to make the Aztec push-up more efficient is to spread your legs when you jump. Instead of trying to touch your toes, extend your arms and legs like you’re doing a jumping jack in mid-air. You’ll stretch different muscles and have a different experience getting back into position than if your extremities stayed near your center of gravity.

As with most push-ups that require additional motion between raising and lowering your body, the Aztec push-up is very advanced. In addition to ensuring you’re strong enough and can control your body, you should also do it on a soft substrate, like a yoga mat, to prevent injury.

24. Both Hands on Medicine Ball Push-Up

A push-up with both hands on a medicine ball is a variation focused on the pecs. Bodybuilders use this to strengthen their chest and core. Center the medicine ball under you and steady it with both hands. Do a push-up normally, stopping when your chest touches the medicine ball.

One common mistake with this variation is not keeping your body in alignment. Many people get distracted by the medicine ball and focus more on their hand placement than their body’s form. This oversight can lead to injuries.

A tip for increasing the efficiency of the push-up with both hands on a medicine ball is to move the ball around between each set. Do ten reps with the ball right under your chest, and then move it a few inches out for the next set. See how you feel the burn in different muscles.

Another modification to make the push-up with both hands on a medicine ball more efficient is to add motion utilizing the medicine ball. After completing a push-up, jump up with the medicine ball in your hands. Raise it over your head before lowering it back to the ground and getting back into the push-up position.

This push-up can be challenging depending on what modifications you make. If you feel comfortable balancing on a medicine ball, doing the basic push-up steps is an intermediate exercise. Modifying it with the tips given above makes it more advanced and is something you should work up to.

25. Hands on a Stability Ball Push-Up

A push-up with your hands on a stability ball is a variation for total body strength. Athletes use this exercise to increase coordination. You do a standard push-up, but you’re balancing on a stability ball, which engages your core.

One common mistake with this variation is trying it before you’ve mastered standard push-ups. The stability ball can make you feel out of control because your center of gravity can shift with every movement, so you need to have excellent coordination to try this one.

A tip for increasing the efficiency of the push-up with your hands on a stability ball is to change the position of the stability ball. Do ten reps with it in a standard push-up position, then move it slightly above your shoulders and do ten more. See how your different muscles engage.

Another modification to make the push-up with your hands on a stability ball more efficient is adding leg motions. You can add the cross-body leg motions with your knee meeting your elbow or even stack your feet to distribute your weight differently.

The basic form of this push-up isn’t necessarily complicated if you have good coordination and balance. Beginners might enjoy the challenge of engaging their core while they do gym push-ups.

26. Renegade Push-Up

The renegade push-up is a variation focused on building muscles. Weightlifters do this exercise to gain muscle mass along with strength.

Hold dumbbells in each hand. Lower your body to the ground and then raise the weight in one arm when you push yourself up. Pull the elbow back until the weight is even with your upper body. Lower yourself and your weight slowly, and then do the same thing with your other arm.

One common mistake with this is to rotate your body as you lift the dumbbell. You need to keep your body straight, or you can twist and strain your muscles.

A tip for increasing the efficiency of the renegade push-up is to do several reps with one arm before changing to the other. You’ll feel the burn in your right arm, then get relief as you switch to do five reps with your left.

Another modification to make the renegade push-up more efficient is to try it with stacked feet. Wait until you’ve mastered the renegade push-up because adding weights already changes your center of gravity. But once you feel confident, you can stack your feet and see how that weight distribution changes what muscles you feel activated.

The renegade push-up is an intermediate exercise. People who have mastered a basic push-up might want to level up without changing their routine too much, so adding weights can be a positive increase, as long as you start slowly and add weight incrementally.

27. Suspension Strap Push-Up

The suspension strap push-up is a variation focused on the biceps and triceps. Athletes use this exercise to work their whole body in the gym. Use the suspension straps to brace your hands. From a standing position, lower your body between the suspension straps.

One common mistake with this exercise is not relying on your legs to help you slant forward. Putting too much weight on your arms can cause injuries. Part of the benefit of this variation is how you can depend on your legs and the suspension straps if necessary, so make sure you’re not wearing yourself out.

A tip for increasing the efficiency of the suspension strap push-up is to lower your body as far as it can go between the straps. You have to work to keep control of your arms because the straps can move relatively freely. 

Another modification to make the suspension strap push-up more efficient is to hold your body in place when you’re leaning forward. You’ll feel your core and back muscles engage. Count to 30 or 60 before finishing the push-up and see how your body feels.

This push-up is one of the more advanced because you rely so much on your arm muscles to stabilize your body, even with the suspension straps supporting you to an extent.

Which Type of Push-Up Exercise Variation is Good for Beginners?

The incline push-up is a push-up exercise variation that is good for beginner athletes and people wanting to get in shape before progressing to more advanced exercises.

Because you’re using a bench to prop up your body, you don’t have to lift all your weight with this push-up. This method of easing into working out makes it ideal for beginners who are trying to assess their strength before committing to a workout routine.

One common mistake with this push-up is not utilizing your bench to the fullest extent. It’s there to help take some of the weight off of your arms and shoulders, so you should take advantage of that as you learn these beginning push-ups.

Beginning athletes might need to modify the incline push-up to ensure they have the proper form before hurting themselves. If you’re struggling to keep your body straight while using the bench, you can try decline push-ups instead. You’ll be on your knees and have a stronger foundation to work on elongating your spine.

Tips for doing push-ups include making incline push-ups more efficient. You can bring your elbows closer to your body. This modification works your triceps more so you can stay in a position that’s comfortable for you but works your body.

The basic incline push-up is easy for beginners to perform. There are modifications to make it even simpler or more complex. This push-up variation can range from being accessible to slightly challenging.

Which Type of Push-Up Exercise Variation is Good for Weightlifters?

The one-arm push-up is a push-up exercise variation that is good for advanced weightlifters wanting to build more muscle mass and strength. Because this is a variation on a standard push-up, weightlifters can quickly progress to using one arm to lift, lower, and steady their body weight.

The one-arm push-up is good for building bicep and tricep muscles. As these muscles get stronger, you’ll find you have not only more upper-body strength but also core stability. If you’re able to do a one-arm push-up and hold yourself in the raised position until you count to 10, 20, or 30, then you’re giving your core a workout.

Weightlifters who want to get in an exercise without hitting the gym will benefit from the one-arm push-up. It’s a great way to use your body weight to push your limits instead of relying on dumbbells and barbells.

One common mistake in a one-arm push-up is getting your arm at the wrong angle. If you stretch your arm too much, you won’t have enough mechanical advantage to keep your momentum going. Keep your arm close to your body to prevent this lag in the workout and protect your arm muscles from strain or damage.

There are tips to do push-ups that give you more of a workout. Elevate your feet on a bench to make the one-arm push-up even more efficient. With the back of your body raised, your arm has more weight to support. Since one arm takes so much of your weight, make sure you ease into this variation. Try just a few reps before adding it into your workout so you don’t overdo it.

Another way to increase efficiency is to time yourself. Do ten reps with each arm and rest for 90 seconds before doing ten more reps of each. The next time you’re doing one-arm push-ups, rest for just 60 seconds between rounds. Then try 30 seconds. You don’t want to wear yourself out, but testing your endurance can help build strength and resilience.

The one-arm push-up is very advanced, and it’s one of the hardest push-ups on the list. You should be able to complete many other push-up variations efficiently before trying this one.

Which Type of Push-Up Exercise Variation is Good for Athletes?

The Aztec push-up is a push-up exercise variation that’s good for athletes. This is a more advanced push-up, so athletes at the top of their game will enjoy having a different way to test their strength and power.

Though there’s a standard push-up at the core of the Aztec push-up, exploding into the air in the middle of the act works a lot more muscles than other variations. You’re working the delts, pecs, and triceps just as with most variations. But as you jump in the air and bend to touch your toes, you’re working your abs and strengthening your core.

Transitioning from the jump back into the push-up position so quickly also helps your agility. Athletes compare Aztec push-ups to burpees because of the movement involved in this exercise.

One common mistake with the Aztec push-up is focusing too much on each step of the workout. It’s recommended for athletes because they’re used to letting their bodies run on autopilot without needing to think about each thing that comes next. Overthinking can cause you to miss a beat, and a simple misstep can hurt your muscles.

Because this exercise has so much potential for injury, the modifications to improve efficiency relate more to your safety. You can still get the benefits of an Aztec push-up even if you can’t touch your toes in the air. The act of jumping up from the push-up and then coming back into that position will add a lot of speed to your game.

If you want to push yourself, we can recommend some tips to do push-ups. You can add an element of a fixed position into your Aztec push-up routine. Use tape to mark spots on the floor for your hands and feet. Get into position, push up, and then jump up. When you come back down, try to hit your marks exactly. Not only are you getting agility here, but also precision.

The Aztec push-up is probably the most challenging variation on this list. While one-arm push-ups are difficult because one hand is handling all your body weight, the Aztec variation adds so many other motions that it’s much more complicated. If you’ve mastered the other push-ups on this list and are looking for something that can also help your speed and agility, this is the one for you.

Which Type of Push-Up Exercise Variation is Good for Bodybuilders?

The weighted push-up is a push-up exercise variation that is good for bodybuilders. Intermediate bodybuilders can benefit from this variation, but you need to be cautious about how much weight you’re adding. Usually, advanced bodybuilders do this variation to get the most out of their workouts.

Weights on your back while in the push-up position help build your core while you’re using your pecs and delts to complete the exercise itself. The added benefit of an extra workout makes this push-up variation appealing to bodybuilders. You can take advantage of this double workout without needing to spend more time in the gym.

One common mistake when doing the weighted push-up is not securing the weights properly. Professional bodybuilders have vests that can handle a max amount of weight. They secure the weights to work out without worrying about the discs slipping. If you’re using regular weights, you might focus more on balance than the workout itself to keep them in place.

You can always modify weighted push-ups for efficiency with tips to do push-ups. If you try adding more weight to your back, each push-up will be slightly more challenging to complete. Make sure you start with small increments so you don’t overdo it and hurt yourself.

After adding weight, you can further increase the efficiency by adding more reps to your routine. Again, add them incrementally so you don’t wear yourself out after one exercise.

The weighted push-up isn’t a challenging variation, depending on how you approach it. If you’ve already mastered regular push-ups, adding a few extra pounds on your back won’t feel too hard. Just make sure you’re not adding so much that you strain your back or hurt your spine.

Which Type of Push-Up Variation is Better Overall?

It’s hard to give one specific push-up variation as the answer since each one has a particular goal. You can do push-ups for arm strength, core stability, and even balance and coordination.

As previously mentioned, the best variation for beginners, besides a standard push-up, is the incline push-up. However, some beginners might try the eccentric push-up, which works your leg muscles along with your biceps, triceps, and pecs.

The best variation for weightlifters is the one-arm push-up, but many professionals prefer diamond (triangle) push-ups. Instead of focusing on the chest and shoulder muscles, this type of push-up focuses on the triceps, which helps weightlifters with their specific needs.

Athletes usually gravitate towards push-ups that not only help increase their strength but also give them more of a workout. The previously-mentioned Aztec push-up adds explosive motion and a core workout to the standard push-up. But some athletes might prefer the Spiderman (side kick) push-up because of how it works your hip flexors to improve coordination.

Bodybuilders can benefit from the weighted push-up, but some people are trying to exercise at home and don’t have the weights and vest they need for that variation. In that case, they might turn to the suspension strap push-up, which uses their total body weight instead of discs.

If you’re trying to work out a specific set of muscles, you can check the description for each push-up variation and find what will help you most. For those just looking for some new, straightforward push-up ideas, some of the best straightforward push-up variations are military, knee, and incline.

Regardless of the type of push-up you choose, you can change the intensity based on your fitness goals. There are always modifications that can help you increase the efficiency of your push-ups, so you’re getting the best workout possible.

What Are the Push-Up Alternatives?

There are push-up alternatives that work many of the same muscle groups as push-ups. If you’re tired of your push-up routine or just want to add in some new reps, consider trying these alternatives.

High Planks

High planks increase core, shoulder, and upper back strength like push-ups. They also improve balance since you’re steadying your weight on your hands and feet. Keeping your spine straight as you do planks also helps your posture and strengthens your core.

To do a high plank, start on your hands and knees. Straighten your legs back behind you, raising your heels so your hips lift as well. Stretch your spine and tighten your core as you hold the position for one minute.

Let yourself back down to your hands and knees, and then get back into a high plank position for another minute. You can do this exercise anywhere from two to four repetitions as a warm-up. To get the most out of high planks, consider how push-ups instructions include focusing on your form and apply that method to planks as well.

Mountain Climbers

Mountain climbers develop upper body strength, strengthen your core, and burn calories. This exercise is similar to the push-ups that use your legs, like the Spiderman (side kick) push-up, Aztec push-up, and others. The technique is different from push-ups which you’ll understand when you learn that mountain climbers are also called running planks.

Start in the standard plank position, then bring your right knee up to your chest. Step it back, then bring up your left knee. Step it back. Pick up the pace until it almost seems like you’re running in place.

Bring your knees up so that this position can work your leg muscles more than your arms. You’ll get some quality core strength from this exercise, though, so it’s an excellent alternative to push-ups.

Chest Press

The chest press strengthens pecs, delts, triceps, and core muscles. While it works many of the same muscles as push-ups, the technique is very different. You use a weight bench and either a barbell or two dumbbells.

Lie back against the bench with your feet on the floor. Inhale and lower the dumbbells to gently touch your chest. Then exhale and push them up until they’re just below eye level. Your elbows should still be slightly bent. Repeat the actions up to 15 times for a set. You can do two or three sets per workout if you feel up for it.

Athletic Insight

Athletic Insight Research

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

The Athletic Insight Research team consists of a dedicated team of researchers, Doctors, Registered Dieticians, nationally certified nutritionists and personal trainers. Our team members hold prestigious accolades within their discipline(s) of expertise, as well as nationally recognized certifications. These include; National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer (NASM-CPT), American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA-CPT), National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Nutrition Coach (NASM-CNC), International Sports Sciences Association Nutritionist Certification.