It is widely acknowledged that the key to leveling up your fitness is mixing up your workouts. If one particular exercise becomes too easy, your progress will plateau and possibly even halt completely.
This is especially the case for push-ups. Many people who incorporate them into their workout routines quickly find that the standard push-up becomes easier and easier over time. While 20-30 push-ups used to wipe them out, they now see it as a warm-up!
At this point, they have only two options:
- They keep adding push-ups until they’ve reached 100.
- They simply get creative and add variations.
Fortunately, you won’t have to add an extra 75 push-ups to your daily routine in order to increase your strength. So, how many push-ups should you be doing in a day? Here are 9 push-up variations that will help you build strength without having to do that whopping 100 push-ups.
The Superman push-up isn’t for the faint of heart, hence the name. However, if you can get the hang of it, you’ll be feeling like the Man of Steel in no time. This particular variation is great for building strength in your core.
Begin in the normal plank position, only your hands should be just above your head rather than level with your shoulders. As your lower your body down, make sure your core is engaged and keeping you straight. Once your elbows touch the ground, push yourself back up into starting position.
Around the World Push-Up
This variation is great for those who want to focus on their dexterity and mobility. If you are a beginner, don’t try to complete this exercise too quickly. The purpose is to improve your shoulder mobility under pressure. If you move too quickly without building up your strength first, you could seriously injure yourself.
Begin at the standard push-up position. Then, rather than lowering your chest straight down to the floor, lean to one side (it doesn’t matter which) and complete a full circle until you are back up in your starting position.
If you are looking for a more dynamic way to target your chest muscles, this variation is perfect. As mentioned above, it’s better to focus on difficulty rather than increasing your reps.
From here, you can eventually move on to the Archer push-up and even the Typewriter push-up.
You will begin in a similar position to the standard push-up: plank position, with your arms out in front of you. Only, instead of your arms being shoulder-width apart, they should be spread out wide enough to form an “A” shape.
From there, lower yourself down until your nose touches the floor. Pause and then exhale as you push into the floor and straighten your arms back out. Your hands should be far enough apart that your elbows don’t extend out past your hands on your way down.
Ah, an oldie, but a goodie. Everyone’s heard the clap push-up, but it’s harder than it looks. This variation develops muscle control and builds explosive power.
The basic idea is to drop down into a standard push-up but push yourself up into the air and clap your hands together. You can easily increase the difficulty by either adding extra claps or pushing yourself higher into the air.
The key is to keep control of your muscles as you clap and catch yourself before you smack your face on the floor. If you relax your muscles while clapping or move one arm faster than the other, you could lose balance and potentially injure yourself.
Another superhero variation that earns its name. This variation is particularly hard because it focuses on mobility and coordination. It targets your obliques as well as your arms and inner core, and the more controlled your movements are, the better.
Begin in the standard push-up position and lower yourself to the floor. As you go, raise your knee up to touch your elbow.
Once you are at the bottom of your push-up and your knee has touched your elbow, return your leg to starting position as you raise your body back up. Repeat with your other leg for the next rep. To increase the difficulty, don’t move your leg until you’ve reached the bottom of the push-up.
This variation is incredibly advanced and can be added once you’ve mastered the Archer push-up. It will not only help you gain control as you move. It will also strengthen your wrists and forearms as well.
Once you have lowered your body down to one side, slowly slide your weight onto the other arm and then push your body back up. The movement is reminiscent of sliding the roller on a typewriter from one side to the other. The key is moving slowly and focusing on muscle control. Your fingers should be facing out away from you to avoid injury as you move side to side.
The handstand push-up was made famous by CrossFit and targeted the shoulders rather than the chest. Another variation that definitely isn’t for the faint of heart and shouldn’t be attempted if you can’t hold yourself in a handstand position.
However, if you can successfully complete 20 reps, you’ll feel like there’s nothing in the world you can’t do!
If you’re a beginner, use a wall for support as you kick up into a handstand position. Keep your hands wider than shoulder-width apart and lower your body until your head is almost touching the floor.
Pause there and then push your body back up into the starting position. Make sure to keep your movements slow and controlled so you don’t cause a head injury.
This variation is great for training one side of your body at a time. To increase the difficulty, you can also add an incline by putting your feet up on a bench or couch. This exercise is also a great way to build up to the one-armed push-up.
You begin in the standard push-up position and lean to one side as you lower yourself to the ground. You should be using primarily one arm to move up and down and using the other to keep balanced. You can either go back and forth as you complete your reps or do an entire set on one side and then another set on the other.
Let’s end this list with the simplest variation. Don’t mistake us; simply doesn’t mean easy. Whereas the inclined push-up makes the movement easier for beginners, the declined push-up is designed to make the movement harder. Much harder. Adding this variation to your regular routine will greatly help you will any other variation you can think of.
Begin in the standard push-up position but have your feet up on a couch or work-out bench. From there, bend your arms and lower yourself as far as you can, or until your nose touches the floor. Pause and then push against the floor until your body is back in the starting position.
Know Your Limits
Now you know! There are plenty of ways to mix up your workout without having to do 100 push-ups. If you find that you can easily do 50 without breaking a sweat, it’s time to switch up variations and start challenging yourself in a new way. Remember, when it comes to the number of reps you need for muscle growth, less is always more.