Few exercises are as portable, simple, and complete as the pushup. Regular pushups effectively work the triceps, chest, shoulders, core, lats, lower back, glutes and legs – but, as you’ve probably found out, you can build up resistance to them quickly, having to do dozens (maybe even hundreds) to get the same results. That much repetition can get old unless you throw in some variety. Here are our favorite pushup variations that build strength in your core, shoulders, chest and triceps.
Pushups 101: Core-s Work
- Tap That Hand: At the top of your regular pushup, pause to use one hand to tap the other hand, switching hands every rep. This motion throws you off-balance, requiring core strength to keep you upright.
- Tap That Thigh: At the top of your pushup, tap your outer thigh – this helps strengthen your core stabilizing muscles.
- Wave to the Floor: “Hi Floor!” That’s what you can say every time you reach the top of your pushup and stretch out one hand in front of you in a big friendly wave that works your core.
- Leg in the Air: While the rest of your body is performing pushups-as-usual, there’s that crazy leg sticking up in the air behind you. The added instability creates a nice workout for your abs.
- The Side-Kick: If you can get your leg in the air, then you can kick your leg to the side – hard! Not only will this add muscle to your abs, but your quads as well.
- Rotational: Do one regular pushup, then rotate your body to bring one hand straight up in the air, performing a side plank that works the shoulders and obliques.
- Fingers to the Back: Instead of pointing your fingers forward, rotate your wrists until your fingers are pointing to your feet and perform your pushup. Feel those shoulders and biceps working!
Spectacular Pects & Triceps
- Walking the Alligator: Place one hand forward, one hand back, and do a pushup. Now walk forward like an oversized aquatic lizard and do it again. Repeat until you’ve reached your destination. These “staggered” pushups work the chest.
- Diamond-Hard: Not just rock-hard, but diamond hard – that’s how your triceps will be after you do enough of these pushups. Place your hands below the center of your chest and form a diamond with your thumbs and fingers. Then push!
- One-Armed Tabletop: If you’re not to the Rocky Balboa one-armed pushup point yet, this move will help get you there. Keeping your feet wide and abs tight, use one arm to push up from a table, chair, or wall until you build up enough strength for the full one-armed pushup.
- Adding Full Motion: Grab a hold of a dumbbell in each hand and get into pushup position. This will lift you above the ground further and give you a greater full-motion pushup when going all the way down. This will also help in hand strength and core stability.