When you’re working out, you know you need to do enough sets and reps in order to get stronger. A common approach in many workout plans is to select a small set of exercises and repeat them over and over. Many people have used this approach successfully, but I have found that if I do this for a long time, I tend to get bored with my workout and start looking for something new. One way to combat this is to add variety to your workout!
Today I’d like to share twelve varieties of the classic pushup. Some of these are easier than traditional pushups, many are harder, and you can combine them together to tailor a workout to your level of strength. In addition to making your workouts more interesting, many of these will work additional muscle groups and increase your functional strength.
Note: If you find any of the exercise descriptions are unclear, post a comment and I will post a longer description or video to help you.
These are listed in order of increasing difficulty.
One: Knee Pushups
These can be used to make any pushup easier. If you have difficulty doing pushups, of any variety, you can learn it first with your knees on the ground. This is great for beginners, but it is also great for people beginning to learn the one-handed pushup.
Two: Inclined Pushups
If you can do a pushup well from your knees, the next step is to try it on an incline. If you go to a gym, place your hands on a bench to perform your pushup. Work out at home? No problem! Use a stair, or a chair (place is against a wall to prevent it from moving).
Three: Wide Leg Pushups
Perform your pushups with your legs spread wide. I find this more difficult than doing a pushup on my knees or on an incline, but it is still slightly easier than performing it with your legs together.
Four: Lowering the Hands
This one is a small variation, but it can changes the emphasis different muscles get from the pushup. Doing pushups with your hands up by your shoulders emphasises the shoulders, having your hands at chest level emphasises your chest. For a challenge, trying moving the position of you hands down towards your hips. It’s not easy. Try it!
Five: Moving your hands around
Start with your right hand high (around your shoulder) and your left hand low (just below your chest). Perform a couple pushups, and then swap your hands.
Six: Diamond Pushups
Hold your hands out in front of you, and touch your index fingers and thumbs together so that the shape between your hands forms a diamond. Now place you hands on the floor, and do pushups like this. When you are at the bottom of the pushup, your hands should be near your heart. This is a very good tricep exercise.
Seven: Decline Pushups
Just the opposite of the incline pushups. This shifts the weight over your chest, and increases the resistance. Raise your feet on a weight bench, stair, or chair (place against the wall to prevent it from moving), or if you really like a challenge, raise your feet by placing them on a ball.
Eight: Weighted Pushups
Its just what it sounds like! Have a buddy place weights on your back, or have them push down on your back giving you additional resistance.
Nine: Pushups with a Side Crunch
Yes, now we are performing two exercises at once. Perform a normal pushup, and then as you hold it at the top, bring one of your knees up and to the side, so that you feel your oblique tighten. On the next pushup, crunch the other side by moving the other leg. To make this harder, perform the leg movement at the bottom of the pushup. These are interesting, challenging, and efficient!
Ten: Medicine Ball Pushups
Grab a medicine ball. Place one of your hands on the medicine ball and the other on the ground. Perform a few pushups, and then roll the medicine ball to the other hand. More pushups. And repeat!
Eleven: Fingertip Pushups
Want a stronger grip? Looking for a new way to work your forearms? Add in some fingertip pushups. Not only can you strengthen your grip, but you also get better depth on your pushups because you are raise up.
Twelve: One Arm Pushups
Ah, yes. Everyone’s favorite! This is definitely one to work up to. You can look forward to an entire post that I am going to write about this one. In short, do a pushup, but keep one of your hands behind your back. Easy! Right? .
You don’t need to have variety in your workout, but it can certainly give you a motivational boost. And that can be HUGE. If you are sick of the same old, mix it up with some of these suggestions!