It turns out your gym teacher may have been on to something by making you do all of those push-ups. The traditional exercise is known for strengthening arms, but it’s also an ideal move to target your core and lower back. If it sounds too good to be true, keep in mind that form matters.
The Arizona Republic revealed you’ll only score these benefits if you keep yourself properly aligned. If you feel like you’ve mastered the basics, it’s time to incorporate some new challenges into your routine. These six variations help to focus your effort on different muscle groups to maximize your returns. Try them all, and you’ll see why push-ups never go out of style.
Ways You Can Build Muscle With Push-Ups
1. Spiderman push-up
If it’s chest and arm strength you’re after, then this move should be at the top of your list. StronGains explained those muscles are forced to work harder because this exercise incorporates leg movements that shift your weight to different areas. The article went on to say this move is perfect for deltoids, pectorals, and triceps, but it’s also an excellent way to engage your core. Men’s Fitness said this variation is like doing a crunch and a push-up at the same time.
Start in the standard push-up position, with your hands planted firmly in front of your shoulders. As you lower yourself to the floor, lift your right foot off the ground and swing your knee to meet your right elbow. As you rise back to the top of the move, swing your leg back to the starting position, and plant your foot. Repeat on the other side. Men’s Health shows how to make this move correctly. Remember, maintaining form is more important than the number of reps. Start small, and increase as you get stronger.
2. Diamond Push-Up
Many people focus their efforts on building bigger biceps, so it’s a good idea to give the backsides of your arms a little bit of attention. Very well explained, working on this muscle group is critical for avoiding imbalances that could lead to injuries. Just don’t overdo it because the muscle group is small and can’t handle as much weight as other parts of your arm.
To perform a diamond push-up, place your hands on the floor in front of your chest with your fingers and thumbs pressed together to form a diamond shape. Your legs should be extended straight behind you, as with any push-up. Lower your chest to the floor, then press yourself back into the starting position. BodyBuilding.com illustrated the move and offered some suggestions for variations. Though this exercise is useful, it’s also incredibly challenging. BuiltLean also pointed out the move can be hard on wrists, shoulders, and elbows, so you might want to avoid this one if you have any nagging injuries on those parts of your body.
3. Clap push-up
Before you roll your eyes at those guys who give a little hop and clap between each push-up, consider the benefits of this variation. Men’s Fitness said this exercise helps to build explosive power while developing your pectorals. Working these muscles will help carve a chiselled chest and help stabilize your shoulders, reducing the risk of injury.
The move is relatively straightforward. Begin in the plank position with your arms extended and hands planted on the floor in front of you. Lower yourself toward the ground, then push yourself up quickly, clap your hands, and land back in the plank position. BodyBuilding.com said beginners should plan to start with their feet a bit wider apart. As you improve, you can move your feet closer together.
4. Alternating hand and single-leg push-up
While the name isn’t exactly catchy, this push-up variation is one you’ll want to start working into your routine. This move helps to target your serratus anterior, a muscle that’s critical for maintaining proper posture. Livestrong revealed a weakness in this region that could cause your shoulder blades to stick out and limit shoulder movement.
Begin in the plank position, with your hands planted directly in front of your shoulders. Move your left hand several inches ahead of your right hand, and lift your right leg off the ground. Keeping your core tight and your raised leg steady, lower your chest to the floor. Push yourself back to the starting position to complete one repetition. Livestrong recommended starting with five to 10 before switching sides.
5. Push-up jack
Time-crunched folks often have difficulty figuring out if they’re better off going with cardio or strength training, yet you need to incorporate both into your routine. Instead of choosing one or the other, look to moves like this great push-up alternative that combines the two. Start in the same plank position as you would for a regular push-up. As you lower your chest to the floor, jump your legs as wide as you can out to the sides. As you raise yourself back to the starting position, jump your legs back together. Check out Very well for a diagram that illustrates the proper technique.
If you’ve never combined strength training and cardio, this move is an excellent way to start. Livestrong explained You’ll increase your aerobic capacity while building muscle in a condensed time frame, so you’re a lot less likely to get bored. The article also recommended keeping rest between exercises short to keep your heart rate elevated.
6. Feet elevated push-up
When standard push-ups start to get too easy, raising your feet higher will provide more of a challenge. DailyBurn said performing this move is very similar to an incline bench press, so it’s a good choice for days when you can’t make it to the gym. To perform this exercise, you’ll need some object that will raise your feel about 12 inches off the ground. From there, lower yourself into the regular push-up starting position. Keeping your forearms vertical, lower your chest to the field, then return to the position of departure.
While you can increase your effort even more by raising your feet higher, you should be mindful of what muscle group you are looking to target. AZCentral explained bringing your feet past your hips turns the move from a chest exercise to a shoulder exercise. That can be a great thing, but people prone to shoulder injuries might want to be careful.