While the push-up is the most basic workout to add to your gym routine, there are ways to take this fundamental exercise to the next level.
Push-ups are a simple, yet extremely effective exercise for building upper body strength. Push-ups involve compound movements that activate several different upper body muscles, but focus specifically on your chest. In the gym, push-ups are often forgotten as meatheads clamor to hit to the bench press. Don’t forget push-ups in your routine. You can do them anywhere, and mix them up with different types of variations.
If you are looking to add new variations to your workout, these 5 types of push-ups may be the answer you’re looking for.
Hand-clap push-ups are an especially exhilarating kind of press-up. Approach this type of push-up like the standard, but press hard on the ground with force when you reach the top of your arm extension. You will need to get enough air to complete your clap. Try to land carefully and catch yourself as you fall back down. All of this occurs in the span of about a second. Difficult at first, once you get a knack for them, you can develop a rhythm of successive bursts. If you want to push the envelope even further, try double-clap-hand push-ups. To execute them successfully, you have to heave yourself even harder into the air – give yourself some space to do the maneuver. Even then you must still move your hands at lightning speed, further honing your reflexes. As with all types of push-ups, remember to keep your form – back straight, butt in. It can be especially tough when you’re landing down from the push-up. Hand-clap push-ups are a plyometric exercise involving explosive force, which will develop different strength from standard types of push-ups. This explosive power can lead to faster and more powerful arm strength in sports like boxing. Go for at least 10 reps, but always aim to DO:MORE until you’ve reached failure.
Jumping propulsion push-ups
If there is one kind of explosive push-up that’s tougher than the full-on, fast-twitch, clap-hand push-up, it must be the dynamic propulsion push-up. Just doing this exercise to the end of the room you are in and back may make you feel as if you have accomplished a marathon. What makes the exercise so hard is that you are propelling yourself both upward and forward. To make headway, you must rise high, as in a clap-hand press-up. Here, if you can just perform 10-12 reps you are doing well. See if you can cover some distance – go from one end of the gym to the other. This is the ultimate high-intensity exercise, and has many of the explosive strength benefits of hand-clap push-ups. If you only had five minutes a day to work out, this might be the best move for you. If you are extreme enough to want to mix this kinetic exercise up, you could try propelling from side to side.
Burpees are a great exercise in their own right. “The burpee is a full body, strength training exercise. With each repetition, you’ll work your chest, arms, front deltoids, thighs, hamstrings, and abs. Trust me. Your legs will feel like they’re pumping battery acid after you complete a set of burpees,” says Art of Manliness, adding that there’s a reason that football teams, CrossFit practitioners and elite military forces weave the burpee into their workouts. A normal burpee tests your strength and aerobic capacity. Usually, you just drop into a squat position with your hands on the ground, execute a squat thrust and jump back into the air, extending your arms. For Adrenalists, that is too easy. Swap the thrust for a push-up and you have a seriously grueling exercise. Ensure that you put plenty of grunt into the regular push-up. Then burst upward – jump as high as you can into the air.
Decline and incline push-ups
Yet another, easy way to make your push-ups more punishing is to add the element of height. These types of push-ups can hone in on your lower or upper chest muscles. Raise your legs. Prop them up on a chair, Swiss ball, or get your buddy to hold them. Be very careful with this exercise, known as the “decline push-up,” and keep your back straight – resist the temptation to bend it. An alternative twist is to keep your legs on the ground and raise your arms. Lift your chest by doing push-ups with your hands on the prop – great for stressing and building your pectoral muscles. Again, just because you are using some low-tech equipment, don’t forget your form. Keep your arms perpendicular. This variant, the “incline push-up,” is actually easier than a regular push-up, but it’s a great way of switching up your routine, recovering your breath and strengthening your chest. If you go hard for double your standard reps the incline push-up can still wipe you out.
Diamond push-ups will put your triceps to the test. If you’re looking for fuller arms you can’t just focus on the biceps, and these can be a great solution. You can execute diamonds by putting the thumbs and index fingers of both hands together in the shape of a diamond, directly under your chest. Lower and push-up as per the standard movement. Believe us, these are tougher than they look. Keep your form. The coordination needed to pull these off will help your balance and test your core.