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Push Up Variations

Updated on June 2, 2012

Push ups are an excellent exercise for the upper body. Pushups are a good way to target the chest, arms, and other surrounding muscle groups without use of equipment, and best of all they can be done anywhere! An excellent way to burn off the fat, and build muscle, you're mad not to be doing pushups.  But furthermore there are many ways you can mix things up by chaning the variation or a few simple concepts to alter the movement. Here we take a look at what variations we have of the pushup and what they're good for.

The One Arm Push-up!

Standard Pushups

Tried and true, the standard pushup, genereally performed from the toes with a straight body and palms about double shoulder width apart, are focussed on the chest while hitting the triceps and other surrounding 'stabilizer' muscles.

Chinese Pushups

In the same fashion as the standard pushup - straight body, from the toes, with one difference - the palms are together underneath the chest. This puts more pressure on the arms and specifically the triceps, making it a good arm builder (as the tricep takes up two thirds of the upper arm).

Push ups with a medicine ball

Most forms of pushups can be done with a medicine ball, place one hand (or both for chinese pushups) on the ball for an added level of difficulty forcing the stabilzing muscles to work harder. If you own a kettlebell, try doing chinese pushups with both palms on the kettlebell, upside down (handle on the floor and the bottom facing up, with palms on the bottom surface).

Clap Pushups

Excellent for developing explosive power, the clap pushup is performed by doing the push at great speed to throw yourself up giveing you enough time to clap and replace your palms before landing. This is excellent for martial artists in developing punching power and speed.

One arm Push ups

An impressive move, the one arm pushup is no easy feat. Balance is the key when doing this pushup, making sure you have your body weight distributed evenly so you dont just fall over while trying to attempt it. The one arm pushup is excellent for building strength in the arms, but also puts a lot of pressure on the core, to stabilise the body.


Most forms of pushups can be performed with some added weight or simple alteration. Things like gettign a partnet to place extra weight on your back can help increase your strength.

Another great idea for most types of pushups is to start at the top of the movement (arms extended) and lower yourself half way down and pause, count to 10 (or whatever number you are comfortable with) and push back up, same goes for starting from the bottom - pushup, pause, count and lower.

Adding weights is another popular way to mix up the pushup, but is more of a way of working two different sets of muscles. Using dumbells or kettle bells you can perform the pushup, once the arms are extended, perform a 'row' consequetively on each arm (a row is a weighted exercise where a weight is pulled from the floor to a level parallel with your midsection, to work the back).

So if you get bored performing push ups as part of your routine, these are only a small sample of what is available for you to mix up this popular exercise. Thanks for reading!


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    • profile image

      Lloyd Hunt 6 years ago

      Thx for the article. When I first started clap offs I could do one. now I do 3 sets of 25. Still gets me winded but when I see big muscle guys who try to copy me and can't do two. I feel awsome. I was in jail one time and started doing my push ups and this guy started doing them in front of me (monking me) and guys were laughing. So I started doing my clap offs because I knew he probably couldn't do it. I was right. He couldn't do ONE. He fell on his face and everyone laughed at him. It was great.

    • wademcmaster profile image

      wademcmaster 7 years ago from Australia

      Yeah it can be a killer, awesome for that explosive strength tho, I've been doing them trying to increase my speed and power for punching, it leaves me pretty sore

    • profile image

      UNLOVED ROHIT 7 years ago

      ok i tried that clap push up its really hard man........

    • wademcmaster profile image

      wademcmaster 7 years ago from Australia

      Thanks for the comment, Its worth writing if one person learns something new!

    • Wendy Krick profile image

      Wendy Krick 7 years ago from Maryland

      I never heard of Chinese push-ups. Thanks for teaching me something new.