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List of Pushup Variations: From Beginners to Advanced

We’ve all done a pushup before. Whether for school fitness testing or our personal fitness training, pushups are perhaps one of the most popularly known and recognized muscle exercises. Their popularity stems from the fact that no equipment is needed other than our own arms, legs, and body weight. That said, after a while, pushups can start to feel repetitive and mundane. Additionally, working out the same muscle group on a repeated basis with the same pushup form could lead us to neglect other muscles in our chest, pecs, shoulders, arms, and abdominals.


Related: What Muscles Do Pushups Work?


Switching It Up


Pushups aren’t just good for muscle growth: your heart loves them too. In fact, Harvard Medical School published an article stating that men who could complete more than 40 pushups had significantly decreased risk of heart attack, heart failure, or other cardiovascular problems over the next 10 years as compared to men who were only able to complete less than 10 pushups.


So what’s the best way to keep pushups exciting? Try out these pushup variations to keep your body and mind in the game. We’ve split up the variations into sections ranging from those for beginners through those for experts looking for a challenge!


Beginner Pushups


1. Pushup From Knees


This pushup variation begins on your knees rather than your feet. In doing so, you reduce the amount of body weight that your arms must support, making the pushup less strenuous on your core and upper body.


Begin by lowering onto your knees and planting your hands should-width apart on the ground directly below you. Next, lower your body toward the floor until your chest is one inch from the ground, then push yourself back up to the starting position.


Pro Tips:

  • For the exercise to be the most effective, make sure to keep your body straight from knees to shoulders

  • If you’re looking to work more on your core, tighten your abs and core during the pushups

  • Your weight should be pushed onto your whole hand including your fingers in order to avoid putting strain on your wrist


2. Negative (Eccentric) Pushups


The purpose of this pushup is to get your body used to the sensation of doing a full pushup. This is based on the fact that doing pushups with the wrong form will have less benefit to your body and can even lead to the risk of injury. The movement involves lowering your body to the ground under control.

Begin by putting your body in a plank position with hands and feet both on the ground. Once again, your hands should be placed directly below your shoulders. Next, lower your body to the ground slowly. Once you’ve reached the ground, don’t worry about pressing back up but return to your starting position on your hands and knees. One full rep should take about 3 seconds.

Pro Tips:

  • Your chest should ideally touch the ground before your hips do

  • Don’t sacrifice form for more reps. Don’t be afraid to take a break to protect yourself from potentially getting injured


Are you struggling to keep up with a consistent pushup schedule? Download the PushApp app today for an easy to use platform that will hold you accountable.


Moderate Pushups


1. Hands On Dumbbell Pushups


Doing traditional pushups while holding onto dumbbells placed on the ground may not seem like an added challenge. The added challenge comes into play with the few extra inches you’ll need to lower your body to get 1 inch from the floor.


Start in the traditional pushup stance. However, place two dumbbells parallel to one another and your body. Grip onto the dumbbells instead of putting your hands directly on the floor. Complete these pushups just like you would with regular pushups.


Pro Tips:

  • Lower yourself slowly and steadily as you approach the floor to derive the most benefit

  • Keep your wrists straight to take the pressure off wrist ligaments that is present when completing traditional pushups


2. Hands Closed Pushup


These pushups have the added benefit of working out muscles like your triceps that aren’t typically used in traditional pushups. You’ll feel the burn soon after you start!


These are completed similar to traditional pushups. However, your hands are placed directly under your chest rather than shoulder-width apart. Lower your body to one inch above the ground and push back to your starting position.


Pro Tips:

  • Some people recommend making a diamond shape with the index finger and thumb of both hands for a bit of an added challenge to this pushup form

  • Remember to keep breathing to keep blood flow circulating while you are working your muscles


Man Doing Pushups In Gym


Related: Diamond Push-Ups: All You Need To Know


Advanced Pushups


1. Plyometric Clap Pushup


This pushup variation should only be used by individuals who have mastered the traditional pushup and are looking for an added challenge. You’ll see why when you try them out.


Begin in your standard plank position on your hands and feet and lower your chest to the ground. Next, drive your body up as fast as possible and clap your hands as your body rises. Finally, put your hands back on the ground to catch yourself. Reset your body after each rep for the most effective pushups.


Pro Tips:

  • Think of yourself driving your hands through the floor when you push up from the ground

  • Focus on keeping your muscles active, even in the simple movement of lowering to the floor


2. Assisted One-Arm Pushup


This is the most challenging variation on our list! Attempting this pushup requires balance and will likely need to be approached in steps/stages until you are able to complete the pushup on your own.


Tie a resistance band to an object that is about the height of your head in a pushup position. Grab the band and hold it close to your chest with your other hand planted on the ground. Your feet will need to be a little further spread the usual to keep your balance. Complete a standard pushup, but with only one hand on the ground.


Pro Tips:

  • As you get more skilled and comfortable, use a resistance band with less and less resistance until you are comfortable completing the pushup without the assistance of a band.

  • Rotate the single hand/arm that is on the floor to get both arms engaged.



Man With Solid Pushup Form


Related: How To Do Your First One-Arm Push-Up


Micro Workouts With PushApp


PushApp leverages the power of micro workouts to incorporate pushups into your daily schedule. By choosing the frequency and number of reps you’d like to be reminded of, users are able to track their progress and set personal goals to keep them on track with their fitness goals. Check it out on the App Store and Google Play today!


Are you tired of forgetting to do your daily pushups to advance you toward your fitness goals? Check out PushApp for an easy to use platform that leverages the idea of micro workouts.