Push-Ups Make You Proud! 24 Push-Up Variations to Try

August 16, 2016

*Scroll down to watch the video!

We have the tendency to think of working out and heading to the gym as a competitive “exercise” in vanity, one where we’re constantly “fighting” with our bodies to look a certain way. The issue of whether to go to the gym, or not go to the gym, becomes polarized in our imagination: either I exercise, or I don’t.

While our initial drive to start exercising might be for aesthetic reasons – to lose weight and build sexy muscles –  other things start to happen as a result. You start to experience your body in a new way. You become more aware of your body and how it works. You learn that your body isn’t something you need to fight with; your body is an amazing machine designed by nature to be strong, confident, and functional.

I like to think of push-ups as a “gateway” exercise into the fitness world because they give you a wonderful taste of what your body can do, instilling a sense of confidence and awareness that goes beyond vanity. While the push-up is not only fantastic for beginners, it’s also a foundational movement for even the most elite athletes. The list of benefits are endless, but below I’ve listed a few of the main ones.

Four Reasons Why the Push-Up Is Your Friend

The Push-Up Is a Safe Exercise

The push-up uses your own body’s weight – weight you’re accustomed to carrying around with you all day. This helps to prevent injuries associated with isolation movements. For the most part, the worst thing that can happen with a push-up is if your muscles reach failure and you flop onto the floor. Be mindful of push-ups that are shoulder intensive (like a grasshopper push-up) as the shoulder can be vulnerable to injury.

The Push-Up Is a Compound Movement

Compound movements are those that engage multiple muscle groups, which must work together to complete the movement (as intended by nature). The push-up engages the chest, shoulders, triceps, core, and even your butt a little bit.

Compound exercises like the push-up are beneficial because they require more mental focus (you gotta maintain that form!); they are functional movements (things your body was built to do naturally); and they are higher intensity (you’ll sweat more!).

The Push-Up Helps with Posture

The push-up helps you develop the mind-muscle connection, especially in the upper body. The more connected you are to your body, the less likely you are to have poor posture. A strong, firm chest is a great confidence booster, and after doing a routine of push-ups you’ll naturally feel your chest puff up and your shoulder blades squeeze together.

The Push-Up Requires No Equipment

And perhaps best of all, the push-up is incredibly practically, requiring no equipment to be effective. There are variations that do use equipment, but most push-ups can be done anytime and anywhere.

Push-Up Tips for Beginners

  • Keep your abs and your butt squeezed throughout the motion
  • Keep a natural curve in your spine – don’t sag at the waist
  • Don’t crane your neck – hold it at a natural angle
  • Avoid moving awkwardly through the movement – it should be one fluid motion

Watch the Video!

Check out my video of 24 different push-up variations you can try, ranging from the basics to more advanced variations. I’ve categorized each push-up below as well, from the basics up to very challenging variations.

24 Push-Up Variations Listed from Easiest to Hardest

The basics for beginners:

  • Knee push-up
  • Standard push-up
  • Military push-up
  • Wide push-up
  • Incline push-up
  • Knuckle push-up

More challenging variations:

  • Single-leg push-up
  • Leg raise push-up
  • Sloppy push-up
  • Mountain climber push-up
  • Staggered push-up
  • T push-up
  • Diamond push-up

Even harder variations:

  • Plank push-up
  • Slow push-up
  • Spiderman push-up
  • Decline push-up
  • V push-up
  • Pulse push-up
  • Gecko push-up

Very challenging variations:

  • Row push-up
  • Grasshopper push-up
  • Clap push-up
  • Hindu push-up

*Note that I’m not a fitness professional, so please be careful and do any movements at your own risk.

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