100 Push Up Variations for Total Upper Body Training

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Push ups are the most beneficial bodyweight exercises that you can do to develop your upper body. With the help of them, you can increase the strength and the size of your chest muscles, but your shoulders, arms and even your core is engaged.

Also, there are a lot of push up variations for men and women that allow you to target one particular muscle group better or make your strength training more difficult.


How to “create” different push up exercises? (Push up variations)

1. Changing the distance between your hands

For example, if you do it with a narrow grip, called the diamond push up, it will work your triceps and the inner parts of your chest. If you do it with wide hands, your back muscles are also engaged.


2. Lifting Your Buttocks

Instead of keeping your body in a straight position that is parallel to the floor, you lift your butt as much as you can. This way the load is put on your shoulders. Hence, with this move, you can focus on your delts and upper chest.



3. Putting your feet on a higher position

You put your feet on a low chair or a bench, so you can perform decline push ups that work your upper chest and shoulders well. Also, your core since you have to keep the correct position. The higher your feet are, the harder the exercise is, and more load is on your shoulders. These are the best push ups for upper chest.


4. Placing your hands on something higher

This is the opposite of the previous one when you place your hands on a higher object so that you can do incline push ups. That variation is excellent for beginners and to focus on the lower part of the chest.


5. Plyometrics

These are the moves when explosive power is used. For example, when you are down, in one explosive movement, you push yourself up so much your hands leave the floor in a few inches. Another version, when you launch yourself from the ground so much you can clap your hands, that is the clapping push up.



6. Weighted & other extra resistance

If you feel your body weight does not provide enough resistance anymore for developing, you can add extra hardness in various ways.

I think the best equipment for that is the weighted vest since it does not disturb the movements. However, you can also use a rubber band that you put over your back and the two ends of it under your hands. Hence, it gives resistance both in the lowering and pushing state. A chain or a weight plate on your back can be used as well.

Alternatively, if you are a dad, you can put your kid on your back, as I do. It is going to be fun for both of you.

I think weighted moves are the best push ups to build chest mass and great alternatives to bench press.


7. Use bars and stands

Push up bars are simple exercise equipment that let you go deep. This way the range of motion will be longer and that leads to more efficient muscle size and strength development. Apparently, it is going to be harder to perform the movements. These are excellent push ups for chest mass.

Recommended: Best push up bars and stands reviews.

push up bars


8. Lift one of your feet

An easy way to add extra resistance to your press up is just by lifting one of your legs. This way you need to control your body to keep the balance and with that many other muscles work together.


9. Placing your weight to one side

A great way to make the pushes hard is placing your weight on the one side then the other. So, when you lower your body from the starting position, you move a little bit to the one side, so more of your weight is loaded there.

side to side


10. Change the speed

An easy technique to modify your push up workout is by speeding up or slowing down the moves or even doing static exercises. For example, you try to make as many reps as possible in a given time. Or you make the regular press up, but when you are down, you keep that position for some seconds before pressing up.


11. Using unstable equipment

Two of my favorite home workout equipment is the medicine and stability ball.

For example, instead of placing your feet on a stable object to perform decline push ups, you put it in on the stability ball. Apparently, it will be much harder to complete the move since you have to keep your balance.

Or instead of using a push up stand, you can use medicine balls. That movement will require more concentration and with that engages your muscles better.

Two other equipment you can use is the TRX suspension trainer or gym rings. Both of them let you go deeper and demand more power to keep the correct form.

stability ball


12. Placing your hand in front of you

These variations work not just your chest but your shoulders and core muscles very efficiently. These are very hard compound exercises.


13. With one arm

If you are at an advanced level, start doing the one arm push ups which require significant power and practice. But, they make your upper body extremely strong.


14. Combine with burpees

The burpee is an excellent total body exercise to boost your endurance. You can make it even better if you add push ups to it.


15. In handstand position

To tell the truth, this is my favorite exercise to develop the strength of my shoulders, and it works well. Although, I do it with wall support. (I’m not brave enough to do it without it yet. 🙂



16. Combine everything

Above you have a learned a few tricks how to perform various push ups, but you can combine these tips.

For example, you can do decline narrow hand push ups with elevated feet. Or one arm incline.

There are hundreds of push up exercises you can create this way.


Need more tips?

Just check out the following infographic from which you can learn even more beginner, intermediate and advanced push up variations. Thanks, strength.stack52.com for the excellent source.

push up variations
Push up variation chart



What are the best push up exercises for women?

Well, the same as for men. (Obviously, they cannot use such heavy weights for additional resistance.). Here is a women push up training example.

100 push up challenge? Is that good?

You can find the answer in this video. I below doing every day is too much, at least 1 or 2 days rest is required. Plus, it is pretty dull.


What are the best push ups for arms?

All of them work your triceps, but narrow grip ones target your arms even better.

What are the best push ups for a bigger chest?

Weighted, one arm, plyometric, deep with push up bars. Anything that is tough.


To sum up

I think, after checking out this list of different push ups, you agree with me when I say there is no need to lift weights to develop a massive and strong upper body. These push up variations will do the job. Now you can create your push up workout to build chest and upper body. Just be careful, and go from easy moves to the harder ones gradually.

What is the best push up variation for you? Do you know other exercises?

Tell us below.

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