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Two women do one handed pushups and high-five with the other hand.

7 Types of Push-Ups for Your Next Workout

Are you wondering how to do push-ups? Perhaps you’ve looked it up. You’ve tried to do your research. But you’ve hit a snag; there are about a million different push-up types.

Which one should you do?

The push-up is sometimes noted as “the world’s greatest exercise.” It doesn’t require any equipment, and it tones basically your entire body. It engages your abs, your glutes, shoulders, back, arms, and then some.

And for some of us, they are really, really hard!

Side note real quick here: It’s funny that this article landed in my lap. My boyfriend and I actually just started our own push-up challenge (like yesterday).

We’re doing full-body push-ups each day for 30 days. The goal is to basically beat your previous day’s record. We don’t have any particular set rule on rest days, but we said we’d take them when we needed them (we just started, so this hasn’t been necessary - at least not yet!).

The point is: I get it. When you say push-ups are hard, I feel you.

I’ve heard the hard things in life are worth doing. So, with that in mind, let’s dive into push-ups. What are the different push-up types? Are you ready? Let’s get down to it.

Understanding the Basic Push-Up

The basic push up goes something like this:

You set up into a full plank with your hands directly under your shoulders. Your legs should be straight back with your toes planted. Intend your heels toward the back of the room to engage your glutes. And don’t let your hips drop!

Next, the hard part happens.

Slowly bend your elbows, bringing your chest as close to the floor as you can. Then, push back up to your starting position.

The wider you position your hands, the more you will engage your chest. The closer your elbows are to your body, the more you’ll engage your triceps. This often comes down to a personal preference and your intended goals.

The standard push-up, where your hands aren’t too wide, and your elbows are at a 45-degree angle from your body, works the following muscles:

  • Your chest
  • Your shoulders
  • The back of your arms.
  • Your abdominals
  • Your back postural muscles

It’s safe to say that it’s a full-body workout. And when you’re low on equipment, you may want to take advantage of everything this great exercise has to offer.

7 Different Push-Up Types

There are so many different types of push-ups. Relatively speaking, they all work similar muscles. Some focus on certain muscles more than others.

Don’t worry. I’ll break this all down below. Let’s look at some of the most popular types.

Spider Push-Ups

These aren’t for the push-up newbie. But if you’re ready to take on a challenge, the spider push-up is it. In particular, it really challenges your core strength. Here’s how you do it:

  • Begin in a regular and full plank position.
  • Slowly lower your body to the ground, bending your elbows at about 45 degrees outward from the body.
  • At the same time, bring your right knee up toward your right elbow.
  • Pause, then push back up and return your right leg to its original position.
  • Do the same thing but bring your opposite leg up.

Interested in more workout challenges? Make sure to check out: At-Home Burst Workouts to Help You Ride Out Self-Isolation

Wall Push-Ups

This push up focuses on building your initial chest and arm strength.

In a way, it’s a form of incline push up. It’s great for beginners and great for those that are new to regular exercise. All you need is a free wall and yourself. Eventually, you can graduate to a bench or the floor, but this serves as an excellent starting point. Here’s how to do it:

  • Stand about a step away from a wall.
  • Face the wall.
  • Place both hands on the wall about shoulder-width apart.
  • Bend your elbow and bring your chest close to the wall. Your heels can come off the ground here.
  • Straighten your elbows, without locking them, and repeat.
  • Aim for at least 10 repetitions for three sets.

Pike Push-Ups

The good ol’ pike push-up targets your shoulders. You may have thought push-ups were all about the chest. Well, not every variation! Here’s how you can do this push-up type and get those toned shoulders you’ve always wanted:

  • Begin in a full plank position, then assume a downward dog position. This means your body should create an upside-down V shape.
  • Your legs and arms should be as straight as you can get them.
  • Slowly bend your elbows, bringing your head down toward the floor and in between your shoulders.
  • Pause when your head almost touches the floor.
  • Then, push back up into that upside-down V and repeat.

Diamond Push-Ups

With the diamond push-up, your triceps are doing a ton of work. While still working your chest, this is more of a tricep workout than anything else. Here’s how you do it:

  • Set up as you would for any other push-up in a full plank.
  • Instead of having your arms spaced apart, create a diamond shape using your index fingers and thumbs.
  • Then, slowly lower down bending your elbows.
  • Pause, then push back up.
  • Keep going! Aim to do at least 10 in a row.

Staggered Hands Push-Ups

Staggered hands push-ups is another challenge once you’ve nailed down the regular push up. And it really works to strengthen your entire upper body! Here’s how you do it:

  • Begin in a full plank as you would for a regular push-up.
  • Instead of having your hands evenly underneath both shoulders, position one hand slightly back and one hand slightly forward.
  • Slowly lower until your chest almost touches the floor, then push back up.
  • Alternate your hands in between each rep.

Clap Push-Ups

clap-push-up

Alright, this one is for the experts and particularly strong chested amongst us.

The clap push-up also adds more of an aerobic component to this exercise. A warning for the wise: do not attempt this one without first mastering the basic push-up and being able to perform at least 10-15 repetitions for 3-4 sets. Here’s how you do it:

  • Set up for a regular push-up in a full plank.
  • Now… get ready. This is the hard part. Lower down until your chest almost touches the floor.
  • As you push back up, do so explosively so that you have enough time and jump to clap your hands quickly together.
  • Quickly place your hands back in their original positions, and continue.
  • For this one, try doing one repetition to start. And aim to practice it on a nice and soft mat just in case!

Decline Push-Up

If you really want to amp up those chest muscles, the decline push-up will provide a great challenge for not just your chest, but also your anterior shoulder muscles. Here’s how to do it:

  • While setting up in a full plank, place your feet up on a box or step behind you.
  • Then, lower as you would for a basic push up.
  • Lower until your chest almost touches the floor.
  • Push back up and repeat.

Your Push-Up Challenge

Here’s our challenge for you: Perform one full body push up!

If you’re already an expert or wanting more, we challenge you to see how many push-ups you can do in 30 days! How far can you get? Track and journal your progress so you can look back and see how much you’ve improved. Try doing the challenge with a partner or roommate so you can keep each other accountable.

You can do it!

Related article: The Only 3 Strengthening Moves You Need

Krista Bugden

Krista Bugden

"Believing in yourself is really half the battle," says Krista. Anything is possible and you really can achieve anything you set your mind to, is her motto. Physiotherapist, Piano player, skydiver, yogi, adventure traveler and energetic force of positivity, Krista is herself a (delightful) force to be reckoned with! As... Read More

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