Below are 9 different pushup variations distributed into 3 pushup workouts for beginner, intermediate, and advanced-level individuals.
The position at the beginning and end of each repetition as well as the movement are consistent regardless of the variation. It is important to understand the following prior to beginning a workout:
Position: Arms are straight with hands below your shoulders, shoulder-width apart unless stated otherwise. Legs are straight and hips are neutral, so that your backside forms a straight line. Only your hands and feet are touching the ground. For absolute beginners, obtain the same position with your knees on the ground instead of your feet.
Movement: Bend your arms and bring your chest towards the ground. Once your chest comes within a few inches off the floor or your arms are bent at about 90 degrees, press with your arms to bring your body back to the starting position. Maintain a straight line with your backside throughout the movement. The same movement applies if your knees are on the ground.
Circuit I (Beginner) This circuit is intended for those who have little experience with pushups. These variations will help improve technique and build a foundation of upper-body strength. Perform 1 set of 5 repetitions for each variation. Complete the circuit 3 times.
- Standard Pushup: Equalizes work on the chest, shoulders, and triceps.
- Wide Pushup: Hands are slightly past shoulder-width apart. Emphasizes the chest and shoulders.
- Incline Military Pushup: Hands on a stable, inclined surface 1 to 3 feet off the floor. Feet remain on the ground. Keep elbows tucked against your side throughout the movement. Emphasizes the lower portion of the chest.
Circuit II (Intermediate) Those who can complete Circuit I with ease have a foundation of upper-body strength, and can try Circuit II for a greater muscular endurance challenge. Perform 1 set of 10 repetitions for each variation. Complete the circuit 3 times.
- Diamond Pushup: Hands are close with the thumb and index finger of each hand touching to form a diamond shape. Emphasizes the triceps.
- Decline Pushup: Opposite of the incline pushup. Hands are on the floor. Feet are elevated 1 to 2 feet on a stable surface. Emphasizes the shoulders and upper portion of the chest.
- Staggered Pushup: One hand is at chest-level and the other is at stomach-level. Make sure to perform 5 repetitions each way. Emphasizes the arms and shoulders.
Circuit III (Advanced) If you can complete Circuit I and II, and are looking for a high intensity upper-body workout that incorporates explosiveness and stability, this circuit is for you. Complete 1 set of 10 repetitions for each variation. Complete the circuit 3 to 5 times.
- Clap Pushup: Push hard enough at the bottom of the pushup so that your hands come off the ground. Clap your hands before landing on the ground ready for another repetition. Emphasizes power.
- T-Pushup: When you come up out of the pushup, take one hand off the ground and raise it straight into the air, turning your body sideways so that your arms form a “T”. In a controlled manner, lower back into the next pushup. Alternate after each repetition, so that you perform 5 repetitions each way. Emphasizes stability.
- Tempo Pushup: Slowly lower into the pushup, so that it takes 4 seconds. Then come up out of the pushup in 1 second. Follow this 4 to 1 second tempo each repetition. Emphasized endurance.
-Frankie R., Virginia Technological Institute and State University