Push-Up Variations

List of Push-Up Variations

This list provides you with a wide range of push-up variations that can be used during warm-ups and strength training exercises. These push-up variations work on different muscles and decrease the risk of exercise boredom. They range from easy push-ups such as Knee Push-Ups to more advanced push-ups such as Clapping Push-Ups.

All stretches and exercises should be supervised by a trained martial arts instructor in order to prevent injuries and to ensure the proper technique is utilized. If you have had an injury or are in pain, please see a doctor before starting any stretching or exercise program. For additional stretches and exercises, please visit Black Belt Wiki’s section on Martial Arts Physical Fitness.

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Push-Up Variations – Videos and/or Instructions

  • Traditional Push-Up – The basic push-up focuses on your chest, shoulders, triceps, etc.
  • Clapping Push-Up – This is a great plyometrics exercise for building explosive chest power.
  • Eagle Claw Push-Ups – Eagle claw push-ups are used to strengthen fingers/hands as well as the muscles in your chest, shoulders, triceps, etc.
  • Elevated Push-Up – Elevated push-ups put a greater emphasis on your upper chest and shoulder muscles. This technique is also known as a decline push-up.
  • Incline Push-Ups – Incline push-ups are easier push-ups as you are doing a push-up against a wall, etc.
  • Judo Push-Ups – Judo push-ups strengthen your arms, shoulders and chest. They also help your core strength.
  • Knee Push-Ups – This is an easy modified push-up used by people recovering from an injury or beginners who lack sufficient upper body strength for regular push-ups.
  • Knuckle Push-Ups – Some martial artists use this exercise to “strengthen” their knuckles by making them less sensitive to hitting hard targets.
  • Medicine Ball Push-Ups – This medicine ball exercise puts more emphasis on your triceps.
  • Pike Push-Up – This push-up variation places greater emphasis on your shoulders.
  • Plyometric Push-Up – A plyometrics exercise for building explosive chest power.
  • Single Arm Medicine Ball Push-Ups
  • Single Leg Push-Ups – This push-up exercise will also help your core strength.
  • T Push-Up – This advanced push-up exercise can be done with or without dumbbells.
  • Triangle Push-Up or Diamond Push-Up – This push-up variation places greater emphasis on your triceps.
  • Wide Grip Push-Ups – This push-up variation places greater emphasis on your chest muscles.

33 Push-Up Variations

Additional Examples of Push-Up Variations

Easier Push-Ups

  • Regular – Arms shoulder width apart
  • Tricep – Hands in line with rib cage, close to body
  • Wide Grip – Hands 1 1/2 to 2 shoulder widths apart
  • Clapper – Explode off of ground and clap before landing
  • Chest Tap – Like clappers, but hit hands to chest instead
  • Medicine Ball – One hand on a medicine ball
  • Swiss Ball – Feet elevated on Swiss ball
    1. Swiss Ball Hands – Hands elevated on Swiss ball
  • Slow Negative – Descend slowly but push up quickly
  • Shoulder Touch – Do a regular pushup, then tap one shoulder before the next rep
  • Knee Touch – Same as shoulder touch, but hit knee instead
  • Ankle Touch – Same as previous two, but hit ankle instead
  • Leaning Tower – One hand in plank position, other does pushup
  • Pterodactyl Pushup – Like tricep, but turn hands outwards
  • One Leg – Place one foot on top of the other
  • Uchi Mata – Lift one leg as high as possible as you do each pushup
  • Offset Hands – One hand is farther forward than the other
  • Diamond Pushups – Hands underneath chest in triangle/diamond shape
  • Dragon Pushups – Combine a mountain climber with a pushup
  • Tricep Extension – From a plank, slide body back until arms are extended, then reset
  • T-Rotation – From pushup position, lift one hand until you are sideways, then reset
  • Star Pushups – Start with hands and legs wide
  • Pushup Jacks – From pushup position, move legs out and back like jumping Jacks
    1. Level 2 – As you go down, legs go out. On way up, legs go in.
    2. Level 3 – Do the Jacks from the low pushup position
    3. Level 4 – Same as level two, but do a clapper instead
  • 1.5 Pushups – Do a pushup, go up halfway, down, and back to the top
  • Knuckle – Almost any variation can be done on fists

Medium-Level Push-Ups

  • Cross Chest Tap – Like chest tap, but hit across instead
  • Superman Pushup – Push off the ground in to Superman position, then land
  • Plyometric Pushups – After each pushup, gently push off of ground
  • Muay Thai – Clap behind the back
  • Moving Clapper – As you push off to clap, move sideways across the floor
  • Dragon Walk – After each Dragon Pushup, move forwards across the floor
  • Shoot the Moon – Do a medicine ball pushup, then switch hands by shuffling them
  • Side to Side Pushups – Like Shoot the Moon, but without a medicine ball
  • Corkscrew Pushups – As you do the pushup, turn sideways and bend your knees
  • Archer Pushups – From pushup position, shift only your body and move your side flat to the floor
  • Finger Pushups – Like regular pushups, but on the pads of your fingers
  • Forward Clappers – Like clappers, but extend arms forward when you clap
  • Backward Clappers – Like clappers, but clap near your thighs
  • Thigh Slap – Like clappers, but bring knees to chest and slap thighs before landing
  • Double Medicine Ball – One medicine ball under each hand
    1. Double Medicine Ball Feet – Medicine balls under feet instead of hands
  • Kettlebells – One kettlebell under each hand
    1. Kettlebells Feet – Kettlebells under feet instead of hands
  • Floor to Wall – Explode off of ground and hold position with hands on wall, then reset
  • Supported Handstand – Handstand pushups against wall or with someone holding legs
  • Jumping Hands Pushups – Explode off of ground and place hands on object about 1-2 feet from ground
  • Half Pushup – Hold position halfway down
    1. Full Pushup – Hold chest as close to floor as possible
  • Dip Pushup – Place hands on seats of two chairs, then lower as far as possible each time
  • Weighted – Place plates or some sort of weight between shoulder blades
  • Knuckle – Almost any variation can be done on fists
  • Clap to Chest – Clap and chest tap before landing
  • Double Regular Clapper – Clap twice in a row before landing
  • Knuckle – Almost any variation can be done on fists

Advanced Push-Ups

  • One Hand – Place hand a little farther than the shoulder
  • One Hand One Leg – Like One Hand, but lift opposite leg
  • Aztec Pushup – Explode off of ground and touch toes before landing
  • Quad Medicine Ball – One medicine ball under each hand and foot
  • Quad Kettlebell – Like previous, but substitute Kettlebells instead
  • Elevated Chain – Elevate feet and place a chain around the shoulders
  • One Hand Clapper – Combine One Hand and Clapper pushups
  • Triple Clap – Clap in front, behind and in front again before landing
  • 360 – Explode off of the ground and wheel around 360 degrees before landing
  • Lateral 180 – Explode off of the ground and spin feet 180 degrees to face opposite direction
  • Bruce Lee Pushups – One Hand pushups with arm extended on two fingers
  • Lalanne Pushups – Extend hands as far forward as possible to do pushups
  • Crucifix Pushups – Extend hands as far sideways as possible to do pushups
  • Free Handstand – Handstand pushups without support
  • Full Planche Pushups – “No foot” pushups; feet don’t touch the floor and hands are by waist
  • Turtle Pushups – Place elbows in lower stomach and lift feet off floor to do pushups
  • Cricket Pushups – Place one elbow in hip crease, other in regular position and lift feet off of floor
  • Clap the Moon – Like Jump the Moon, but add a clap when you switch

Reference Sources

  1. Many of these push-up variations were supplied by Mike from MBD Martial Arts Academy – Goju Ryu, http://www.mbdmartialarts.com