Push-up Variations

10 Push-up Variations to a Build Strong, Muscular Upper Body

The American males species is obsessed with the bench press, even to a point of becoming reliant upon it. Shoot there is even an “International Chest Day”, or Mondays. “How much ya bench bro?” is a common question heard between “bros” in gyms across the world.

Truthfully, everybody would probably be better off with more push-ups and less bench press in their upper body training routines. We’d see healthier shoulders and better core stability.

Some of the strongest people in history made push-ups a staple of their strength training program. Apparently Herschel Walker did over a thousand push-ups a day to help build is impressive physique.

Now I don’t recommend you go out doing 1,000 push-ups a day, but it is an effective builder of upper body and total body functional strength and muscle. But boredom can set in with our society’s constant need for new stimulation. Here are a 10 push-up variations to help you build muscle and strength. The options are endless be these are some of my favorites.

Feet-elevated Push-ups

First this push-up variation is harder than your baseline variation. Studies have also shown that feet-elevated push-ups activate the serratus anterior muscle much better than the basic push-up. This is important for Should stability

Eccentric Accentuated Push-ups

Time under tension is an important contributor for stimulating muscle growth and accentuating the eccentric portion of the push-up can be effective. By lowering yourself down slowly for four to five seconds before pressing back to the start position, you put a ton of tension on the chest, triceps and shoulder musculature.

Pause Push-ups

Adding pauses to any exercise can help you own an exercise and the push-up is no different. By adding a pause an any point in the exercises range of motion you can also increase the tension created within the exercise.

Band-resisted Push-ups

Adding a band around your back can increase the intensity of the exercise. The elastic properties of the band also create accommodating resistance. Accommodating resistance means the resistance decreases as the joints mechanical advantage begins to decrease, or the point when the muscles are at it’s weakest. This would be the botttom position of the push-up. As you push back up to the start position the band begins to exert greater resistance as you begin to gain greater mechanical advantage.

Important note, cross the band behind your back. This helps prevent the band from sliding up onto your neck of down your back.

Push-ups With Chains

Draping chains across you back can be a quick and easy way to add load to the push-ups. Plus you look exponentially more bad ass with chains hanging off of you.

Plate-loaded Push-ups

Like adding chains to the push-up, just loading a plate up on your back can help add resistance. It can become difficult to add more than one plate, so a partner may be needed to assist.

Diamond Push-ups

Want bigger arms? You need to build up your triceps and the diamond push-up is a great way to put more focus on your triceps. By creating a “close-grip” the triceps are required to do more work.

Plyo Push-ups

Want to build up explosive upper body strength? Plyo push-ups may be your variation of choice. keep the reps low as to keep the rate of force production high. Attempt to push yourself as fast and as far away as possible from the ground.

1-arm Medball Push-ups

I am not usually a fan of using unstable surfaces, except with push-ups. The unstable nature of a med ball will create a greater stability requirement. Due to the mobile nature of the shoulders, a little extra stability never hurt anyone.

T Push-ups

The T Push-up is a combination push-up, side plank, and pull-apart. The transition from a double to single arm base not only challenges the core but really requires a lot of the shoulder musculature.