Switch Up Your Push-Ups: Best Push-Up Variations

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When it comes to exercises for your arms and chest, nothing is better or more convenient than push-ups. All you need is your body weight and some dedication. But endless military-style push-ups can get boring, so once you’ve perfected the basic form, move on to one of the more advanced versions.
How to do classic push-ups: Start in a plank position with your stomach facing the floor and your body weight supported by your hands and feet. Your head, back, and legs should be in a single line with your hands directly below your shoulders. Bend your elbows back towards the side of your body and lower your chest to the floor before raising back up to the starting position.

5 Rotate to side plank

This variation is a great warm-up exercise for your chest and shoulders, but it also challenges your balance and works your abs and obliques. Start in the full plank position, making sure your hands are directly below your shoulders. Slowly rotate your body to shift your weight to your right side to come to a side plank. Your entire body weight should be supported with your right arm and both feet stacked on top of each other. Raise your left arm directly above your body if you’re stable enough. Slowly rotate back to start and repeat on the other side.

4 Plyometric push-ups

Sometimes called clap push-ups, this variation requires a lot of upper body strength, but the challenge is a fun one. Start exactly the same as you did for standard push-ups, lowering to the ground. But once your chest is to the floor, you’ll push off the floor, lifting your hands and entire upper body off the floor. The idea is to get your hands high enough off the ground to clap your hands in front of your chest before returning to the starting raised position and repeating.

3 Incline/decline push-ups

Depending on your level of strength, these variations can be scaled. For those just beginning, start with incline push-ups with your hands on a weight bench, stair or any other surface one to two feet off the ground. Lower your chest to the step and raise back up as usual. If you’re a bit stronger, you can do decline push-ups, which are the exact opposite, and put more of your body weight into your upper body. Place your feet on the same type of raised surface and lower and raise as before.

2 Wide grip push-ups

To work more of your chest muscles — the pectoralis major and minor — use this variation in your next workout. The principle behind this variation is that the farther apart your hands are, the more the move targets your chest muscles, and the closer your hands are to each other, the more it targets your triceps. The important thing to remember is not to spread your hands too wide or you’ll risk shoulder injury. Set your hands only a few inches wider than shoulder distance apart and run through the standard range of motion.

1 Diamond push-ups

From the standard starting position, bring your hands in towards the center so that your thumbs and index fingers form a diamond shape below your face. This variation targets the triceps muscles, and since those muscles are usually weaker than your biceps, you’ll want to do fewer reps. You can also modify it by dropping to your knees while in the plank position or put your hands on a raised surface like a bench or stair so that there’s less weight to lift.

If you can work your way through all these versions, you’re well on your way to a strong, sculpted upper body. And the great thing about push-ups is that you can do them regardless of your age or gender. So whether you’re a man or woman, young or old, you should aim to incorporate a few sets into every workout or warm-up routine.

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