Sculpt Arms Faster With These 8 Push-Up Variations
If you want to strengthen your arms and build definition in your upper body and back, then drop and give me 20. Yep, I'm talking push-ups. Because this simple exercise is also one of the most effective. Changing up the kind of push-up you do will target different areas of your arms and back. Learn which variation works which part of your body, then just pick your push-up.
A basic push-up, with the hands directly under the shoulders, is a challenge all on its own. Whether you do it with straight legs or knees on the floor, you'll strengthen and tone the muscles in your arms, upper back, and core.
- Start in a plank position with your arms and legs straight, shoulders above your wrists.
- Take a breath in, and as you exhale, bend your elbows out to the sides and lower your chest toward the ground. Stop as soon as your shoulders are in line with your elbows. Inhale to straighten the arms. This counts as one rep.
- If this is too difficult, do this exercise with your knees on the floor.
Although the diamond push-up is more common to military workouts, we civvies can still reap the benefits and target our triceps more with this variation. This narrow arm position also focuses the work more on your inner pec.
- Begin in plank position. Place your hands together, directly under your sternum, with the tips of your index fingers and thumbs touching. Your fingers and thumbs should form a diamond or triangle shape.
- After an inhale, exhale to bend your elbows, lowering your chest toward the floor.
- Inhale to straighten the arms.
- This counts as one rep.
- If this is too difficult, try separating your hands a couple inches or widening your feet slightly. Still too hard? Then lower the knees to the ground.
The Spider-Man push-up variation will really challenge your upper body, work your core, and targets the muscles on the sides of the torso, too. There's no room for boredom to creep into your workout when doing this push-up!
- Start in a traditional plank position, with your hands under your shoulders, and your body in one straight line.
- Bend your elbows out to the side to lower your torso toward the floor, bring your left knee and touch it to your left elbow.
- As you straighten your arms, return to plank position bringing your left foot next to your right; then repeat this move on the other side. This counts as one rep.
Keeping the elbows close to the torso makes this yoga-inspired variation very safe for the shoulder, since it puts less pressure on the joint. But you really need to focus on the elbows squeezing your torso. This position focuses the work on the triceps, too.
- Start in a plank position with your arms and legs straight, shoulders above the wrists.
- Keeping your upper arms parallel, bend your elbows lowering your chest until your shoulders are in line with your elbows. The elbows should touch your ribcage. Inhale to straighten the arms. This counts as one rep.
Down Dog Push-Up
Another yogic push-up variation to really target your lats, upper back, and abs! As a bonus, you also get a nice stretch for your calves.
One-arm push-ups may feel like they're beyond your ability, but this asymmetrical push-up forces you to work one arm more than the other making it good prep for that impossible-sounding challenge.
- Begin in a plank then lower your left elbow to the ground, with your forearm crossing under your chest. From this position bend your right elbow, lowering your body to the mat. Use your abs to keep your torso in one piece as you come to the floor.
- Exhale as you straighten your right elbow to return to the starting position. This completes one rep. Be sure to do the same number of reps on each side.
Plyo Push-Up Prep
The different hand positions work different muscles in the chest and arms. Try to catch a little air as you move your hands from side to side to work toward a plyometric push-up.
- Start in a plank on your knees. Move your left hand out to the side, then bend both elbows lowering your torso toward the mat. Straighten your arms to return to plank. This completes one rep.
- Switch your hands, bringing in the left hand while stepping the right hand wide — this is where you should try jump off your hands. Perform a push-up. This completes one rep.
Moving from the push-up to the side plank forces your abs to work overtime! This move challenges your entire body as well as your sense of balance.
- Start in a plank position, with your shoulders over your wrists and legs out behind you with your feet hip distance apart. Pull your navel in and keep your back straight.
- As you lower and exhale, bend your elbows outward to the sides. Hold at the bottom for one breath.
- Raise back up to top push-up position. As you reach the top, keep moving in a fluid motion to side plank position: release your right arm and raise it to the ceiling, keeping your body in a long diagonal line. Hold for one breath, then move back into plank position.
- Repeat the push-up, twisting the opposite direction bringing your left arm toward the ceiling. Return to plank position to complete one rep.