15 Incredible Push-Up Variations To Do Anywhere

Short on time and need a quick way to get a good workout?
Push-ups are the answer. 

You can do this body-weight exercise just about anywhere. There’s levels to this though. As a certified personal trainer, I’ll guide you through the standard push-up and more difficult variations.

Keep reading below to find 15 push-up variations to experiment with in your workouts. Here’s what’s coming up. 

Main Takeaways
Get Into Push-Up Position
15 Push-Up Variations
Why Do Push-Up Variations?
How Many Sets/Reps Should I Do?
What Muscles Do Push-Ups Workout?
What Are The Benefits of Push-Ups?
Bottom Line

Main Takeaways  

Why Do Push-Up Variations?
Do push-up variations to add variety and functionality into your workout routine. Push-ups are a safer alternative to bench and dumbbell presses. 

How Many Push-Ups, Sets/Reps Should I Do?
Do 10-20 reps for beginners, and 30-50 reps for more intermediate and advanced. You can do 2-3 sets for more volume as needed.

What Muscles Do Push-Ups Workout?
Push-up variations train your chest, triceps, and anterior (front) delts. Push-ups allow for core activation and leg stabilization.

What Are the Benefits of Push-Ups? 

  • build your strength over time
  • easily track your progress with reps
  • promote safe and healthy shoulders
  • significantly lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. 

Get Into Push-Up Position 

Before you try any other push-up variations, master the basic push-up position. It will serve as the foundation to build all kinds of other movements on.

  • Get into a high plank position with your back straight but slanted.
  • Make sure that your butt is not poking in the air, but rather it should be low. You’ll be on the balls of your feet. 
  • Shoulder should be rolled back to get stability. Hands are shoulder width apart and aligned under your chest.
  • Your head position should not look ahead, but face slightly forward. 

15 Push-Up Variations 

Here’s a list of 15 push-up variations to implement into your workout.

Some are easier than others, but over time you will build strength and be able to do all of them. So keep up the consistency.

Standard Push-Up   

How To Do It

  • Get into push-up position as described above. Keep your back straight, butt low, and head facing slightly forward. 
  • Inhale and lower your chest to the floor.  
  • As you go down, bend your elbows and keep them at a 45 degree angle. 
  • Go as low as you can then exhale and blast up by pushing through your palms. Ideally you want chest to floor for that full range of motion. 

Beginner Wall Push-Up   

How To Do It

  • Place your hands against a sturdy wall with wrists lower than your shoulders. 
  • Hands should be in front of your chest and arms straight. Feet are planted but your body will be at a slight slant.  
  • Inhale and bring your chest as close to the wall as possible, but don’t hit your face. 
  • Exhale and push against the wall, returning back to the starting position. 

Assisted Push-Up  

How To Do It

  • Get into a push-up position, but instead keep your knees on the floor. The further back you slant your knees, the harder the exercise will be. 
  • Inhale and lower your chest to the floor, keeping elbows at 45 degrees. 
  • Go as low as you can then exhale and push.

Dive Bomber Push-Up  

How To Do It

  • Get into a push-up position. 
  • Get your butt high in the air with your back straight. Do this by pushing your hands into the floor. Head should be behind your hands. 
  • Inhale and in smooth sweeping motion, bring your chest to the floor then continue till your torso is up and your legs are straight. Exhale as you sweep. 
  • Reverse the motion to return back to the starting position. 

Pike Press 

This position really emphasizes your front delts, triceps, and upper chest. 

How To Do It

  • Start with an altered push up stance. Your butt will be high in the air while you’re on your toes. Hands and head will be aligned while elbows are bent at a 45 degree angle. 
  • Inhale at the starting position and straighten your elbows. Push through your palm and exhale. 
  • Lower your head back down and repeat the movement.

Feet-Elevated Push-Up

The feet elevated nature of this movement puts your body in a decline position, which emphasizes your upper chest. 

How To Do It

  • Get into a standard push-up position but elevate your feet on a stair, medicine ball, or something stable. 
  • Go through the motions of a standard pushup. Inhale on the way down and lower your chest to the floor. 
  • Exhale as you push up while keeping your core and legs tight. 

Upper-Elevated Push-Up

With your upper body elevated the exercises puts more emphasis on your lower chest.

How To Do It

  • Get into a standard push-up position but elevate your upper body by putting your hands on a step, curb, medicine ball, or something else stable. 
  • Go through the motions of a standard pushup. Inhale on the way down and lower your chest to the floor. 
  • Exhale as you push up while keeping your core and legs tight. 

T Push-Up

This variation offers serious back and total shoulder activation in addition to the chest and triceps. 

How To Do It

  • Get into a push-up position. You can use light weights for this exercise, but it’s recommended to start with no weight to get the movement down. 
  • Inhale as you lower your chest to the floor as much as possible. 
  • Exhale and push yourself back up. As you push, lift your left arm and rotate till you face the left. 
  • Your body will look like the letter “T.” 
  • Bring your arm back down and repeat with your other arm. 

Diamond Push-Up 

This exercise emphasizes the medial head of your tricep. That’s the outside part of your arm that creates a horse shoe when flexed. 

How To Do It

  • Get into a push-up position with your hands in the shape of a diamond. Hands shoulder be positioned directly under the center of your chest. 
  • Inhale and lower your chest to the floor, aiming for the diamond. 
  • Exhale and push back up. 

Wide Stance Push-Up 

This wider variation targets your chest differently and also activates a muscle called the serratus anterior.

This muscle pulls your shoulder blades forward around your rib cage, so it’s important for arm movement. 

How To Do It

  • Get into a push-up position with your arms wider than shoulder width. Keep your hands aligned under your chest.
  • Inhale and lower your chest to the floor. 
  • Exhale and push back up.

Narrow Stance Push-Up

The narrow stance will help you feel your inner chest more because it will be easier to contract. The narrow stance also emphasizes your triceps more than a normal or wide width. 

How To Do It

  • Get into a push-up position with your arms narrower than shoulder width, but not as close as a diamond push-up. Keep your hands aligned under your chest.
  • Inhale and lower your chest to the floor.  
  • Exhale and push back up.

Knee Drive Push-Up

This variation adds a cardio aspect with the speed of the knee drives. It also activates your lower abdominal muscles to lift your knee. 

How To Do It

  • Get into position and do a standard push-up. Remember to breathe. 
  • At the top of the movement, drive one knee up toward the chest. Don’t hurt yourself when doing this. 
  • Repeat the push-up and drive the other knee.

Sphinx Push-Up

This position really puts the stress on your triceps, so it’s a great movement for arm day as well. 

How To Do It

  • Get into a standard push-up position, but lower your body onto your forearms. This is your starting position. 
  • Exhale and straighten your arms. Inhale and return back to the starting position. 
  • Repeat the push-up and drive the other knee.

Clap Push-Up

This push-up variation adds an element of speed and coordination to the push-up. 

How To Do It

  • Get into a standard push-up position. 
  • Inhale and lower your chest to the floor. 
  • Exhale and push up, but now push one again to make your hands airborne. For an added challenge, clap your hands while your upper body is in the air. 

Clap Push-Up

This variation has a deep range of motion, making it more challenging than a standard push-up. 

How To Do It

  • This is also known as the side-to-side push-up. Get into a push-up position with your hands wider than your shoulders. 
  • Rotate your palms outward so that your fingers point away from the body. 
  • Lower your chest to the floor but only on the right side. Your right elbow will bend while your left arm stays straight. 
  • Repeat the position. This time lower to the left side. Your left elbow will bend while your right arm stays straight. 

Why Do Push-Up Variations? 

push-up variations

Do push-up variations to add functionality and variety into your workout routine. It’s also a safe body-weight alternative to bench press or dumbbell press. 

Pushing is a natural movement that humans have, like when you push open a door. Adding body weight resistance to your natural pushing ability gives you the push-up.

The functional aspect of this exercise make it a great movement for all skill levels.

With push-up variations, you can change the position of your hands, shoulder, arms, and even feet. Each variation emphasizes different parts of your upper body.

Push-up variations are safer on your shoulders and elbows compared to the heavy weight of a bench press or dumbbells.

  • According to this study bench press poses a risk for developing shoulder injuries. The reason is because you often lift heavy weight in ranges not normal for the shoulder to be in. 

How Many Sets/Reps Should I Do? 

Do 10-20 reps for beginners. If you have more strength and a higher capacity to do push-ups, then do 2 to 3 sets of 20 reps. 

Some people do hundreds a day. While that may be a fine regimen for athletes and bodybuilders, for the average person this can be a lot for the joints. You will for sure feel it the next day. 

So take it easy and do what’s manageable for you. For the exercises below, pick 1-3 you like and do those.

Doing all of these push-up variations in one workout is not recommended. 

What Muscles Do
Push-Ups Workout? 

Push-ups are a great compound movement that work muscles in your upper body, while engaging your core and lower body as well. 

  • Push-up variations train your chest of course. You can emphasize your upper and lower chest with different positions.
  • Your triceps work together with your chest as a pushing muscle, along with the front part of your shoulders. The tricep has three heads: the long, lateral, and medial head of the tricep.

When you start in a push-up position, you have to keep your core tight and your legs stabilized with isometric contraction. That means you tighten and hold in place.

Abs and legs act as helpers to complete a successful push-up. While you won’t necessarily work out abs or legs in a push up, they are just as important in this movement. 

What Are The Benefits
of Push-Ups? 

Push-up variations are easy to improve and satisfying to see progress in. Push-ups give you a strong upper body and promote healthy shoulders. 

Push-ups can also be part of an excellent part of a calorie burning workout. What makes push-ups unique is that they can be personalized to fit your body type and strength level. 

A cool study about push-ups found that they are an easy method to assess the risk of cardiovascular disease. 

The study saw that active, middle-aged men who could do more than 40 push-ups had a significantly lower risk of cardiovascular disease compared to those men who were able to do less than 10 push-ups.

Hope that opens your eyes to the heart healthy benefits of push-ups! 

Bottom Line 

Push-up variations are a go to exercise that require no equipment and uses just your bodyweight.

You can of course add weights, explore variations, and emphasize different muscle groups like shoulders or arms.

Have an intense workout with only push-up variations, or add them into your current routine for functionality. Happy pushing! 

Looking for more? Check out this article on Everyday Fitness: 15 Essential Exercises.

AUTHOR

Shalom is a content creator, musician, and a teacher at heart. As a certified personal trainer, his goal is to encourage others to lead healthier lives and to get buff in the process!