Push-ups provide a great full body workout by targeting and strengthening a large number of major muscles in your body, especially in the chest, arms and core, while at the same time training your muscles to work together more effectively. This is why they are a staple exercise is any bodyweight workout, including military training protocols.
However, as with any other good exercise, for constant progress, it’s of crucial importance to maintain the intensity of the workout by creating variations and going out of your usual way once in a while. This doesn’t mean that you have to replace this classic move with another exercise – by simply altering your performance and trying other push-up versions you can challenge your muscles further and reinforce your gains.
If you’ve been doing only regular push-ups so far, we’ll help you take your push-up workout to the next level. The following routine is guaranteed to make your chest burn!
#1. Regular push-ups
Get into a high plank position and place your hands on the ground, directly under the shoulders. Begin to lower your body, keeping your back neutral, until your chest touches the floor, then push yourself back up. This will be your warm up exercise, so go for a high volume and perform 3-4 sets of 12-20 reps.
#2. Wide grip push-ups/crucifix push-ups
Wide grip push-ups are performed on the same way as the regular ones, with the exception of hand placement. By place your hands wider than shoulder width apart, you can place more stress on the chest by eliminating a big part of your triceps involvement. If you find this too easy, try crucifix push-ups by placing your arms as wide as you can and maintaining a slight bend at the elbows to allow the pushing movement. Perform 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps.
#3. Clapping push-ups
Begin with the same starting position as in a regular push-up and lower your body down to the floor. Then, explosively push up and lift your torso more than usually so that you have enough room to quickly clap your hands together right underneath your chest and then bring them back down to their original position. Repeat for 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps.
#4. Narrow grip push-ups/diamond push-ups
Opposite to the wide grip push-ups, the narrow grip type requires you to place your hands closer together so that the triceps get more work during the lift. Just make sure to keep your elbows at your sides all throughout the movement. Once you get comfortable with these, you can move on to diamond push-ups – place your hands together with your thumbs and index fingers touching and forming a diamond shape. Perform 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps.
#5. Incline push-ups
Stand facing a bench or any type of sturdy elevated platform. Place your hands on the edge of the bench/platform, slightly wider than shoulder width and perform the push-up movement, keeping the body straight. This will ensure lower chest activation. Perform 3-4 sets of 12-20 reps.
#6. Decline push-ups
This time, place your feet on the bench or elevated platform, while placing your hands firmly on the ground. Slowly lower yourself to the floor then push back up. This advanced push-up variation will emphasize your upper chest. Perform 3-4 sets of 12-20 reps.
Finishers help you squeeze out every last drop of strength that’s left in your body and maximize hypertrophy. For this, pick the push-up variation that you found the most difficult and perform as many reps as you can, then rest for 30 seconds and repeat the process until you are not able to move a finger anymore. Good luck!