When it comes to bodyweight workouts, there’s no exercise that compares to the push-up. Although push-ups are meant to mainly build strength in your chest, shoulders and triceps, people often forget that it’s a total-body exercise and involves your core and glutes, too.
But not everyone can drop their chest to the ground and lift their entire body into a plank right away. That’s why Jenna Wolfe, a recent guest on Daily Burn 365 and author of Thinner in 30: Small Changes That Add Up to Big Weight Loss In Just 30 Days, broke down eight variations of the exercise for us. From core-building bench push-ups to the agility-enhancing Spider Man (yup, wall crawls), these intense strength moves will get your strength and your heart rate up.
PS: We’re doing a Push-Up Challenge all November long! Share your favorite variations and update us on your progress. How many reps can you do today? Whether it's 10 or one, do it! Show us how you're doing on social media by posting pictures, videos, memes or stories using the hashtag #30daysofpushups and #DB365.
8 Push-Up Variations for Full-Body Strength
1. Wall Push-Up
This variation is perfect for beginners because it builds the foundation for perfect form. To get the most out of this move, keep your back straight and engage your core as you push off of the wall. Keep in mind: the further you move your feet away from the wall, the harder you’ll work.
2. Bench Push-Up
The incline from the bench provides your upper body with more support, so your bodyweight is more evenly distributed. The lower the bench is to the floor, the harder the exercise will be. If you don’t have access to a bench, you can use stairs, an exercise step or a stack of newspapers. As for form: Place your hands shoulder-width apart, engage your core and keep your body in a straight line throughout the entire movement.
3. Knee Push-Up
Lowering the knees can be an effective variation, especially if your hips are prone to arching or sagging (they should be lifted). The key with this modification is to keep your arms straight and your shoulders above your wrists. Your knees should be on the ground with your legs together and feet in the air.
4. Toes to Knee Push-Up
For this one, you finish on your knees instead of your toes in a plank to give your upper body some support. But the transition doesn’t give you license to sink the rest of your body! Engage your shoulder muscles, core and glutes to keep your upper body and hips lifted.
5. Toe Push-Up
Master this one, and you’re in great shape (seriously!). In this classic push-up, slowly bend your elbows as you lower your body towards the floor without touching it. Keep your shoulders above your wrists, and your body in a straight line.
6. Spider Man Push-Up
OK, now things are getting interesting. A true test of balance and strength, you’ll feel like a superhero after a few reps of these push-ups. Remember to keep your core tight and hips square as you bring each knee to elbow. Elbows can have a slight bend as you bring your knee to touch them, allowing for a little more of that Spidey range of motion.
7. Clap Push-Up
This explosive exercise adds a crazy dose of cardio and power to the mix. As you lift your body off of the ground, clap both hands together and then lower your body to the floor again. While your body is off the ground, make sure to keep your toes tucked hip-width apart and maintain alignment with your body. Your hips shouldn’t be sagging.
8. Superman Push-Up
The ultimate plyometric push-up, this exercise involves pushing your whole body off the ground at the top of the normal push-up, adding momentum to your fingertips and toes, too. Set yourself up by lying down on your stomach with your elbows bent at your sides and your hands flat on the ground shoulder-width apart; your toes should be tucked in. Engage your core muscles to push yourself off the ground. To help you transition to this variation, do a few half superman push-ups with your toes on the floor.
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