Push ups are a killer chest, shoulders and triceps exercise. But they can also be used to work your back as well as your abs and obliques. Heck, they can even be a full-body cardio movement!
Use these 5 push up variations to mix up your routine so you can work exactly the areas you need!
Why is each of these push up variations so awesome?
Here is why, and when, you should include each in your routine!
The Benefits Of These Push Ups:
If you’ve ever wondered what is worked by different push up variations, then you’ll love these breakdowns!
I’ll even share some great tips on how to modify the moves to meet your needs.
And if you want even more killer and fun upper body moves and workouts, check out my Arm Burner workout program.
(I even have some great tips in there to help you improve and master the push up if you still are working toward that full one from your feet!)
Downward Dog Climber Push Up:
Build mobility and strength with this one amazing hybrid move!
Not only will this push up variation strengthen your chest, shoulders and triceps (especially focusing on your shoulders and arms!), but it will also improve your spinal extension and shoulder mobility.
The downward dog position is such a great stretch for anyone with a desk job, especially if you also want to improve your overhead press!
The Downward Dog Climber Push Up is also a great anti-rotational core exercise to work your abs and obliques.
It a more core intensive push up variation because you have to work to fight the urge to rotate during the climber movement (climbing from your forearms to your hands and back down).
Beginners can modify this move by doing the push up and/or the climber from their knees while still moving to their feet for the downward dog. They can also do reps of the climber plank WITHOUT doing a push up each and every time.
Tricep Push Up:
I’ll give you one guess as to what this move targets…
This push up variation is a great way to really target your triceps and get a little bonus oblique work (although you don’t want to turn this into only a crunch).
If you don’t have access to equipment but want to get some isolation work in for those “bat wings” this is a great way to do it.
Also, if you’re working to improve your push ups and find your arms are your weak link, this is a great accessory move to include!
This can be a difficult move though so beginners may need to do it off an incline with their hand on plate weights or even a bench so they don’t have to lower all the way to the ground. You will simply lift and lower your body from that raised position!
You could also ADVANCE the movement by placing your hand up on a block while still lowering all the way down. This increase in range of motion makes the move harder!
Corn Cob Push Ups:
More time under tension is a great way to build strength and make a move “harder” without adding more reps or a heavier load. So the fact that you have to stay longer at the bottom of that push up, makes this Corn Cob Push Up a hard version to do!
You’re also challenging and targeting your chest muscles even more by moving at the bottom of the push up position.
And because the push up is basically a moving plank, having to hold in that challenging bottom plank position will really work your abs!
Beginners can start off an incline with their hands on a bench or bar. As you get stronger, move the incline lower.
To advance this move, try placing your feet up on a bench to do a decline version. This can also target your upper pec fibers even more!
Row Push Up:
Work not only your chest, shoulders and triceps with this push up variation but also your BACK!
It is a great way to improve your shoulder stability and scapular mobility as well.
And because you lift your hand to row, it is a killer anti-rotational core exercise as well. It will work not only your abs, but also your obliques as you fight the urge to rotate open as you lift your hand.
Make sure to be very conscious to pull your hand up by engaging your back and drawing your shoulder blade toward your spine. Move slowly and don’t rush the movement.
If you feel off balanced, try going even slower even though it is tempting to rush.
Beginners can do this off their knees or off an incline. You can even do a hybrid knee and feet variation, doing the push up from your knees as you move to your feet for the row.
While ideally you want to row then do a push up then row and do a push up, you could also modify the move by doing a row on each side and then a push up.
Who said push ups can’t be cardio!?
This push up will torch some serious calories as you work your chest, shoulders, triceps, abs and even your LEGS!
That jump back and in (or the bottom half of a burpee movement) is a killer cardio move that works your core and also your legs!
However, the Half Burpee requires more hip mobility than we even realize to jump the feet all the way up. If you can’t to start, that is ok. You can also even step one up at a time if needed or do the whole move off an incline.
By placing your hands on an incline, you make it less of a mobility challenge and also make the push up easier while allowing you to work on a full push up from your toes!
Just make sure with this push up variation that, when you jump back, your hands stay outside your chest. You don’t want them shifting higher up or you can place more strain on your shoulders!
If you love these push up variations and want to build a lean, strong upper body, don’t forget to check out my Arm Burner workouts (and these amazing tips!)!