Here are 10 push up variations that range from medium difficulty, to very difficult, as you’ll see with the last push up variation (the Aztec push up). Just giving you some ideas to break up the monotony in the gym and try new things! If you want a primer on push ups, here is How To Do A Push Up With Proper Form.
1. Wide-Grip Push Up
This is a classic push up that is harder than the standard push up because you have less leverage to push yourself up, but it’s a darn good variation. Try starting out with the wide grip push up, then bringing your hands closer in as you go along. In addition, be sure to keep your hands below the plane of your shoulders, and make sure your elbows to not flare out too much. This will help keep the stimulation on your chest, shoulders, and triceps, as opposed to mostly your shoulders.
2. Diamond Push Up
The diamond push up targets your triceps more than any other push up. Like the decline push up, this push up can put a lot of pressure on your wrists. In addition, It can put pressure on your shoulders and elbows. I never do this push up for the preceding reasons, but I wanted to include it because I do know people who do diamond push ups all the time and swear by the benefits.
3. Front Clap Push Up
This is the basic military type of push up where you forcefully push your body off the ground so that you clap your hand in front of your body, then go back to the push up position. This push up you can do routinely and will help engage your muscle fibers in your chest, along with help you create more pushing explosiveness.
4. Behind-The-Back Clap Push Up
I guess this push up probably makes a better party trick than actual push up you would use, but it does require pretty strong explosiveness, much more than the front clap push up. This is the ultimate plyometric push up, and ideally you should try doing it continuously. I’m not sure you can hear it in the video, but my hands are hitting the ground extremely hard and my wrists are crying. Definitely not something to do regularly, unless you have a softer surface.
5. One-Arm Push Up
The trick to doing one arm push ups is (1) be really strong compared to your weight and (2) keep your legs as wide as possible for a stable base. I’ve seen some people align the hand that is pushing almost perpendicular to the body, whereas I’m doing it with my hands in a normal push up position. Make sure your shoulders are thoroughly warmed up before trying this push up. It puts A LOT of strain on your shoulders and elbows.
6. Staggered Push Up Variation
The photo is not a great depiction, but my right hand is about 6 inches higher than my left hand. The lower hand is forced to work harder than the higher hand, which is taken out of the equation. If you can pound out 50 push ups no problem, the staggered push up is a more challenging variation, but you will still feel a great burn in your chest and shoulders. This is in my top 3 variations.
7. Decline Push Up
Be careful with your wrists when doing the decline push up, which is a more advanced version of the normal push up with a greater range of motion. I’ve done thousands of these by putting my feet up a couple stairs in my home growing up. Unfortunately, I developed a cyst in my wrist, which became pretty painful and I’m sure the 150 push ups I was doing every day for the last year didn’t help (ok, I know I’m a little crazy).
8. Incline Push Up
This was supposed to be a spider push up, but somehow we lost the footage. Bummer. The incline push up should really be done against a wider bench, or even against the bar on a smith machine that is set to a couple feet off the ground. The lower the incline, the harder the push up. The emphasis is on your shoulders during this push up and it’s easier than a standard on the ground push up.
9. T Push Up Variation
I do T-Pushups as a warm up all the time to help get my shoulders warm and also my core with the twisting motion. Try it yourself.
10. Aztec Push Up
Face plant!!! Fortunately, I didn’t face plant, but the first time I tried this very difficult push up, it was a close call. I saw it on Youtube only a few weeks ago. The little trick I learned midway through trying these push ups in the video (which was the second time I ever tried them), is to push forward with your toes a little bit before you explode off your hands. Obviously, this push up is very hard, so be careful if you try it. You may consider trying to clap your hands against your thighs first, then go for the toes. Be sure to keep your legs as straight as possible when doing the Aztec.
Let me know what you think of this video.
Do you want me to do a 10 Pull-ups Variation Video?
Awesome. I never viewed the various types of pushups all together before.
These push ups are really good, never knew there could be so many variations. Some seem intimidating but will definitely will try them.Thanks again Marc.
Hello Marc: Haha, I will try, but awesome you are so fit.
I can barely do a basic push up. An outstanding video! I have never seen many of the push ups you were doing. If I didn’t see you do the Aztec, I would not have believed anyone could do that! Wow!
I would love to see the pull up video.
You are in an amazing shape! Didn’t know there were so many variations. I’m inspired to TRY doing some of them. Thanks for the great updates.
Thanks for the kudos regarding the video everyone! I appreciate it!
damn. not only is muse playing, but you’re damn sexy. i wouldn’t mind working out with you some time 😉
I have 3 more for you, similar to the clapping one…
1 “superman”- push up and pop off your hands throwing both arms above your head like superman
2 “batman” similar to superman but arms extend out to either side
3 “wonder woman” again similar to super man but arms cross over chest when off the ground
@Cassie – I think I have to give those variations a try! Thanks for sharing.
Great variations! Try these: decline one arm, triple clap(look on youtube), and this one: launch full body into air, clap hands and feet at same time. I dont have a name for this one:)
@Spence – Thanks for the ideas. I’m considering adding another video with those push ups and a couple others that are really tough. I think I need to practice the triple clap push up. Looks ridiculously tough!
What about the oblique pushup? It’s where you bend your knee (kind of on a 45 degree angle – you will look like a frog) and push it in towards your chest when you perform the down motion of the regular pushup. I see those everywhere now. Although for me personally, the ‘T’ pushup is the one that I use the most. It reminds me of some of the pilates moves I know. My nine-year old son can do so many of the clapping ones. It amazes me.
I have a new love for push ups because of all the benefits so I was happy to run across your site and see the very different variations you have.
I would do these variations, but the latter of the article has exercises impossible to do with weight on your back. (Weighted pushups should be added to this article too, they’re killer!)
@fitmike – I didn’t even think about that. I think it would be great to do weighted push ups by wearing a weighted vest.
Hey Marc, just a little tip for doing diamond pushups thats easy on the wrists. Place your hands in a neutral position on your knuckles with your hands touching each other, palms touching. Also use your knuckles for decline pushups. I prefer a wide grip for declines. Those aztec pushups were awsome!
@sam – Thanks for sharing. Appreciate it!
How many reps should I do if I do each of them once a day?
@Brent – wow, that’s a tough question because I have no idea what your goals are and your level of fitness. My short answer would be to do as many reps as you can. May consider doing these 2-3x per week instead of every day, which can put a lot of pressure on your wrists etc. and cause overuse injuries if you’re just doing the same workout over and over again.
I have NEVER seen Aztec pushups and they made me cringe thinking about doing them myself. I am currently working on the downgraded so called “girl” push-ups on my knees, but I’m almost ready to graduate. I will not however be graduating to any of these variations but I’m glad to know they exist so that I have something to work toward. Thanks Marc!
I can do them all with dificulties at one arm …i can do just 2-3 for a hand and aztec 3-4 and i’m done:)
Those are great examples of push-ups for when you need to add change to your workout and really challenge yourself!
Thanks Erica. Happy you liked the article/video!
wow!! Plz how do i develop my muscles without using weights?? Tankz
Unfortunately, I don’t have any articles yet about how to use bodyweight workouts to build muscle. The short answer is you need to find creative ways to make the bodyweight exercises more challenging over time while increasing volume of the workouts…and of course eating like a horse with ample protein!
OMG that aztec push up is kick ass. Just joined in a 100 push-ups a day for 200 days challenge and I wanted to get some push up variety in. Thanks for this post it helped a lot and great video.
Mary – Thanks for the comment on the video. The first time I did the aztec I was shocked at how hard it was!
Those Aztecs look more like suicidal’s… i didnt even know that was possible.
@Jennifer – Haha. That push up is not easy. When I first saw it, I absolutely had to try it.
If u succed in a aztec push up,you should be proud of your explosiveness:)
with all my heart i thank u bcoz my friends mock tht iam having chest of damn bad shape but now i will have some respect and thnks to you
Superman Push up!(;
Nice tips for push ups , btw you look a lot like english Chelsea’s FC player Frank Lampard
Thanks, he must get all the ladies 🙂
do you do all variations on the same day e.g do you incorporate all these types of pushups into a single session? If yes , how many of each variation should i do. i was thinking about 10 of each , that alright?
@Guvi – I usually do anywhere from one variation to 3 in a given workout, but it’s really up to you and a matter of personal preference.
Nice post Marc !! I never knew push ups had so many variations. Can you please post a video showing how to perform these variations too?
@Blossom – I hope one day in the future to have an entire exercise library. Thanks for the suggestion.
Thanks for the post Marc. I never knew the simple push-up exercise had so many variations !! On a serious note, do you still recommend the diamond variation and the decline variation? You developing a cyst is forcing me to have second thoughts.
i realy helpful before reading it i have done it wrong so now i will try and tell u the result
WOW, your really fit, love it! those push ups were an eye opener! Cant wait to be able to do all of the above! Keep up being fit 🙂
i can do all of them…the ones i can’t are not on the list…try them :
3.2 finger push-ups
you can also try little easier ones for strength and endurance:
4. Hindu push ups
6.wrist push ups
THE toughest of them all:
STRADDLE PLANCHE CLAP PUSHUPS
Awesome video! Would love to see the pull up variations!
@derryn – Here’s a link to the pull up variations => 10 Pull Up Variations: Which One’s Can You Do?
Hey there Marc, thanks very much for the video…Cracking job man, serious!
I am currently going press up mental!….Just got to the point where I can do 60 good form normal type in 57 seconds…I am going for 100 in 1:30, then I’m gonna try for 100 in 1:00…..Needs a lot of work but Ill give it a damn good go pal!
Once ive mastered that I think I might be ready to attempt your video:)
Greetings from England and thanks again.
i am doing push ups regularly 200 reps…i havnt been watching any big changes in my body for 2 months..please give me tips to improve my body??
@Swapnil – check out our free Get Lean Guide, that should give you many great tips.eat tips.
Coach Perry – assume a 6′, 200 lb male – When you do a push up, how much actual weight are you pushing up? If the male wears 34 inch sleeves and raises his feet 36″ – 40″ incline, how much actual weight are you pushing up?? If the push up position is correct and the right knee is brought up to the right elbow, and the left knee is brought up to the left elbow, how much actual weight are you pushing up?? Thanks a bunch!!
Great question! During a push up, you’re pushing somewhere between 60-80% of your bodyweight depending on the push up you perform. During a standard push up, the estimate is 64%. When you lift one foot off the ground, it increases to about 75%.
So, a 200 lb man is pushing about 128 lbs during a standard push up, and closer to 150 lbs with one foot off the ground.
-Kristin, BuiltLean Coach & Managing Editor
coach perry & kristin – thnx for the information – on more ??? if U do not mind – same guidelines as previous only this time using “push up bars’ – 6.5” high – have been using them for years – do U think using “bars” increases the weight “pushed up” from both the regular position, 36″ elevated position, & using the “mountain climbers” (knee to elbow”) technique. these bars help bring the hands almost touching the shoulders!!
Push up bars elevate your hands and body up from the ground, which means you end up pushing less weight. I would venture to guess that using the bars means you’re only pushing around 50-60% of your bodyweight during a push up.
-Kristin, BuiltLean Coach & Managing Editor
thnx for the commentary – may have to get a second opinion on that one – since the person is going down farther & coming up higher!!
coach Perry & kristin – what is your opinion/take on a “Total Gym” set up? the one advertised with Chuck Norris & others!!
The Total Gym machine is definitely interesting, and if that’s all you have access to, then it’s better than nothing. But we recommend training with free weights such as dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells, and even bodyweight training. Reason being, free weights challenge your entire body. They activate your core stabilizers, while also enabling you to do multi-joint exercises. This leads to a greater metabolic effect from your workouts, and a greater total calorie burn.
So, if you have a choice, then choose free weights and bodyweight training.
-Kristin, BuiltLean Coach & Managing Editor
actually use a combination of all the above – Total Gym + dumbbells + 30/45 plates + push ups by the hundreds – by the way, why R they called “dumbbells” & what kind of “medicine” is in a “medicine ball”!