Top 14 Push-Up Variations for Strength and Explosive Power

I have prepared this guide, consisting of TOP 14 variations of push-ups to push your workouts to the next level.

Are you looking for something that does not require much equipment and that builds a strong chest, a stronger core, better-defined arms, and explosive power?? Push-ups are a basic exercise in any bodyweight training.

Maintaining the intensity and the proper progress is essential for winning, so why not create a new workout variation? 

This does not mean you have to replace the exercises but you can use another variation of push-ups to challenge your muscles.

I have prepared this guide, consisting of TOP 14 variations of push-ups to push your workouts to the next level.

1) Wide Hands Push-Ups

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The wide push-up is a variation of the push-up with the hands wider than shoulder-width apart. It targets upper-body muscle groups including the chest, shoulders, and triceps, but has more of a chest emphasis than narrower-grip push-up variations.

Targets: Strengthens the upper body and core, with more focus on the pectoral muscles.

How to Do It

•      Do a regular push-up, but with your hands farther out to each side, roughly 2.5 to three feet apart (the farther apart, the more difficult). 

•      Keep your elbows tracking back throughout the movement.

2) Stability-Ball Push-ups 

If you want to move beyond the basic push-up to build upper body strength and control, try stability ball push-ups. Make sure you can do about 20 basic push-ups before trying these.

Targets: Chest, shoulders

How to do

•      Lay with your chest on the stability ball.

•      Place your hands on the ball at the sides of your chest. They will be shoulder-width apart.

•      Place your toes on the floor, legs straight.

•      Push your body up until your arms are almost straight (do not lock your elbows).

•      Hold and balance for two seconds.

•      Slowly return to the starting position and repeat.

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3) Pike Push-Ups

Only for the advanced, great risk of injury for beginners.

Targets: Strengthens the upper body and core, with more focus on the shoulders

How to Do 

•      Begin in a downward dog yoga position, with your feet and hands just wider than shoulder-width. 

•      Keep your hips high, heels low, and maintain the inverted-V position as you bend your elbows and lower your head toward the floor between your hands. 

•      Reverse the movement to the starting position for one repetition.

4) Flying Push-Ups

Flying push-ups are not for beginners, this type of push-up is only for the advanced.

Targets: Develops even more dynamic power.

How to do

•      Start in a standard push-up position and lower your chest until it’s slightly below the level of your bent elbow. 

•      Then explode upwards and lift both your hands and feet off the ground. 

•      Try to keep your back as flat as possible, but you may need to lift your hips slightly to generate momentum. 

•      It also helps to keep your feet wider. 

•      Land with soft elbows in push-up form and continue lowering toward the ground. 

•      Repeat.

5) Staggered Hands Push-Ups

Staggered hands push-up is a calisthenics exercise that primarily targets the chest and to a lesser degree also targets the lower back, middle back, shoulders, and triceps.

Targets: Pecs, Triceps, Delts.

How to Do 

•      From a standard push-up position, move one hand forward and the other backward so they’re offset by about six to 12 inches (the farther, the more difficult). 

•      Bend your elbows to lower your chest until it is slightly below the level of your bent elbow and then extend your elbows to push back up to the starting position. 

•      Keep your elbows tight to your body throughout the movement. 

•      After one or more repetitions, switch the fore and aft positions of your hands to work each side evenly.

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6) Medicine-Ball Push-ups

Perform a standard push-up with one hand on top of a medicine ball. This works the shoulder in a slightly different range of motion which increases shoulder stability.

Targets: With this exercise, you’ll target your chest while engaging your entire body.

How to do

•      With the medicine ball under one of your right hand, get in the push-up position.

•      Keeping your core tight and your back flat, lower your chest down as far as you can, then push back up.

•      Move the ball to your left hand. Repeat for 10 reps total (or 5 reps per side)

7) Alternating Medicine-Ball Push-ups

This variation adds core stability as well as a modified range of motion during the basic push-up movement. Roll the medicine ball between each hand after a rep and add a new balance challenge.

Targets: Increases chest, shoulder and arm strength, including the pecs, delts, and triceps

How to do

•      Assume Push-Up position with one hand on med ball

•      Perform Push-Up until both arms are straight

•      Roll med ball to the other hand performs a push-up

•      Continue in alternating fashion for specified reps

8) Decline Push-ups

This is a more difficult push-up, performed with the feet raised on a box or bench. You can adjust the box height to increase or decrease the resistance using just your body weight.

Targets: Chest, arms, shoulders, core

How to do

•      Start on your hands and knees, place your hands on the ground, about shoulder-width or a little wider. Be careful not to have them too wide or you will severely limit your range of motion on the descent. Carefully move your feet in position by extending your body, and propping your feet up on the bench, or step, one at a time. Realign your body so that it is in a straight line for shoulders to hips to toes, without sagging or arching at the hips. Reposition your hands if necessary, making sure your elbows are extended.

•      Lower your chest by bending your elbows. Maintain an aligned body position and use a smooth controlled motion. As you lower to the ground, you will need to look up slightly to allow full range of motion and avoid banging your nose or forehead on the ground. As soon as you lift your head, you will want to arch your back but resist this temptation. Arching your back during this move is not helpful and could set you up for an injury.

•      Push up until your elbows are straight, but not locked, returning to the start position.

•      Repeat as many reps as you can do without compromising your form. When you can’t complete another high-quality repetition, stop.

9) Cross-Body Push-Ups

A regular push-up works your upper body and core. Rotating your leg underneath you as you lower to the floor turns the move into a complete abs blaster.

Targets: Strengthens the upper body, with more focus on the core, hip flexors, and shoulders.

How to do

•      Assume a standard push-up position. 

•      As you lower yourself to the ground, simultaneously pick up one leg and cross it beneath your body as you rotate your hip toward the ground.

•      Reverse the movement to the starting position and repeat on the other side.

10)    Diamond Push-ups

Nothing beats diamond push-ups for building an iron chest. And not only the chest. Diamond push-ups are also a top-notch exercise to make your triceps grow.

Targets: Triceps

How to do

•      Get on your hands and knees.

•      Position your hands to close together so your index fingers and thumbs make a diamond shape. It might look like a triangle, depending on the flexibility of your thumbs.

•      Stretch your legs back into a standard push-up position.

•      Keeping your core braced, lower yourself until your chest reaches the floor. Your elbows will flare out to the sides.

•      Return to the starting position.

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11)    Spider man Push-Up

The Spider man Push-Up is great if you’re getting tired of the standard push-up and need a challenge. This exercise is primarily chest and arm strengthening, but it also increases hip flexibility and works your core too

Targets: Strengthens the core in addition to the typical push-up muscles.

How to Do 

•      Assume a standard push-up position. 

•      As you lower yourself toward the ground, simultaneously bring one knee out to the side and up to touch your elbow, with your leg parallel to the ground. 

•      Your knee should touch your elbow at the lowest point of the push-up.

•      Reverse the movement to the starting position and repeat on the other side.

12)    Clapping Push-ups

This is an exercise in which you push yourself up with enough power so that your hands come off the floor and you clap in midair. 

This exercise is not for novice exercisers. You can get injured very easily if you haven’t worked up to these one at a time.

Targets: Develops power in the chest, triceps, and shoulders.

How to do

•      Starting position is the same as for regular Push-Ups. Place your hands shoulder-width apart or slightly wider. Your feet should be closer than shoulder-width. Otherwise, you risk using your legs to push up and reduce the work of your chest.

•      Slowly lower yourself to the ground, making sure your elbows don’t flare out and your back and core are tight. Use the 3:1 ratio as a guide – lower yourself 3 times slower than you push. This way you take the time to properly load the tension before pushing.

•      Push yourself up as explosively as you can. First from the “heel” of your hand, then finally press from the fingers. The push should come from your upper body – do not raise your hips to create momentum – keep the body straight!

•      Before landing, clap your hands. Keep control and land exactly in the same position as you started. Landing is very important – land softly and never on extended arms.

13)    Archer Push-Ups

One of the advanced variations of the push up is the archer push up. This push up is a great strength training and bodybuilding movement by itself. 

Targets: Applies a higher percentage of body weight to a single-arm, while the opposite arm assists (a good way to build up to a one-arm push-up).

How to Do It

•      Assume a push-up position, with wide hands angled outward at about 45 degrees. 

•      Lower yourself at an angle to one side so that you bring your shoulder down to your hand of the same side, while the other arm stretches to become fully extended. (It’s okay if your hands pivot during the movement.) 

•      Push back up to reverse the movement and return to the starting position.

•      Repeat to the other side. It might help to keep your feet wider.

14)    One-Arm Push-Ups

The one-arm push up is a great expression of strength, tension, and balance. Many strong athletes are not able to do it.

Targets: Doubles the weight on a single arm and further activates the core for stability.

How to Do 

•      Just like it sounds—perform a push-up with one arm centered below your chest and the unweighted arm behind your pack. 

•      This one takes a bit more balance; it helps to keep your feet wider.

•      Maintain a flat back and level hips (don’t let them twist one way or the other) throughout the movement. 

•      If you want an added challenge, opt for a two-point push-up: assume a standard push-up position with wide feet, then raise the opposite hand and leg to form a two-point plank.

•      While maintaining a rigid plank, perform a push-up.

•      Keep your back flat and hips level throughout the movement

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