It’s the ultimate upper-body exercise: It strengthens your chest, shoulders, arms and abs — and it can even improve your shoulder health. It’s the ultimate body-weight exercise because it offers so many variations that actually strengthen your entirebody.
Ready for a great leg or back workout with the old-fashioned pushup? These 8 best pushups variations will give you an amazing body-weight workout from head to toe.
1. RENEGADE ROW
Pushups are amazing, but too many pushups and not enough back exercises can cause problems like muscle imbalances, postural issues and shoulder pain.
Prevent it with the ultimate two-for-one: The renegade row. This move combines chest and a back exercise for an upper-body crusher.
2. MOUNTAIN CLIMBER PUSHUPS
If you’ve taken a bootcamp class, you know the mountain climber is a great cardio exercise and a leg-killer. Make it a total-body move by doing a pushup in between — you’ll boost both your lower-body and upper-body endurance at the same time.
It’s hard to mimic overhead pushes with just your body weight (unless you can do handstand pushups). That’s where the pike pushup comes in: In the “pike position” — with your hips as high you can — push yourself down and up. Now, you can target your deltoids and traps far better than a regular pushup.
4. SPIDER-MAN PUSHUPS
Pushups already target your core, but one quick tweak will take it to the next level. As you descend, bring one knee toward that elbow on the same side (which looks like Spider-Man climbing a building). Return your leg as you push and alternate sides. You’ll strengthen not only your six-pack muscles but also your obliques for a complete core workout.
5. ATOMIC PUSHUPS
Using a suspension trainer can unlock a lot of different angles and intensities with a regular pushup. For example, putting your feet into the straps will automatically create instability and force your muscles to work much harder.
From there, blast your abs and legs simultaneously by pulling your knees to your chest between every pushup. Good luck.
This is a great move to open your midback or thoracic spine — which tends to be tight and stiff for a lot of people — and strengthen your shoulders. Also, by moving dynamically, you target more muscles and burn more calories.
7. BIRD DOG PUSHUPS
A bird dog is a simple exercise done on your hands and knees where you reach with opposite arm and opposite leg to strengthen your core and activate your glutes. Blend it with a pushup, however, and you’ll work a lot of muscles all at once for more cardio and more calories burned.
8. PUSH-UPS ON KNEES
By putting some of your weight on your knees, you’ll be able to safely and effectively perform this beginner-friendly modification.
How to: Begin on your hands and knees in a modified plank position. Your arms should be straight, with your shoulders above your wrists. Rest your knees on the ground (preferably with a towel or mat beneath them), legs together, with your feet suspended in the air (a). Slowly bend your elbows and lower your chest to the floor, while maintaining a straight line from the crown of your head to your knees (b). Next, press upwards, engaging your chest and core (c). Complete three sets of 8-10 reps.
Coach says: You should feel challenged midway through set number two. If you’re hardly breaking a sweat, try the incline push-ups below.