Hi guys, Kris from Custom Fitness here, your personal trainer in Amarillo, along with one of our team members Larnce.  He’s going to be giving you some variations on the old gym staple: pushups. If you have any questions for Larnce or would like more information about increasing your push-up game, give us a call: 806-322-3188.

Push-ups are almost an unavoidable necessity for any strength building program that involves little to no equipment, but more often than not, standard push-ups are too difficult for the general population. Standard push-ups are your typical push-ups done with on your hands and toes with your hands just outside shoulder width and spine parallel to the ground. Some people are familiar with doing push-ups on your knees (“Girl” push-ups). This is a necessary modification for some people and a decent starting place, but sometimes even these can be too difficult for some people to do correctly. In some cases the “girl” push-ups may be too easy, but standard push-ups are still too difficult.  In this blog, I will list many different variations of push-ups that you can do from easiest to hardest so that no matter how weak or strong you are, you can still benefit from push-ups.

  1. Wall Push-Up – The wall pushup is the easiest variation of the push-up that still involves resistance. Start standing an arm’s length away from a sturdy wall with good posture and a firm core with your hands just outside shoulder width with your hands on the wall. You will then lean directly towards the wall loading the shoulders, chest, and triceps until your head is about an inch away from the wall. It is important that your heels come off the ground when you lean.
  2. Elevated Knee Push-Up – An elevated knee push-up is the next step up from wall push-ups. Starting on your knees with your hands on a sturdy elevated surface like a bench, lean into the bench bending the arms and loading the pushing muscles. Press away making sure to keep your core braced.
  3. Elevated Standard Push-Up – The elevated standard push-up is done just like the elevated knee push-up except that you will be on your toes instead of your knees. This works as perfect final step for those who can’t quite accomplish the knee push-ups yet.
  4. Knee Push-Up – Knee push- ups (“Girl” push-ups) are often times harder than they seem even for men. The best way to set up for this push-up is start in a plank on toes and hands and drop the knees straight down keeping everything above the knee as still as possible. Keeping the core braced, perform the push-ups from there.
  5. Starfish Push-Up – The starfish push-up is the perfect mediator between the standard push-up and the knee push-up. The only difference between the 2 is that in the starfish push-up, your feet are wider than shoulder width apart giving you a much larger base to push from. As always, keep the core braced and the spine as parallel to the ground as possible.
  6. Standard Push-Up – The famous standard push-up is done simply on your hands and toes with your feet together and your arms just outside shoulder width. It is very important you’re your core remains braced throughout the movement and that your spine is parallel to the ground. Usually these are hard enough for most people, but there are plenty of harder push-ups that can be done instead.
  7. Tricep Push-Up – A tricep push-up is true to its name. They differ from the standard push-up because they reduce the involvement of the chest and shoulders and place the majority of the load on the triceps. Tricep push-ups are done by placing the hands right by the ribs and letting your elbows bend straight backwards instead of outwards. These push-ups require a much stronger core than standard since your base has been reduced. These can be done on knees as well if you wish to work the triceps without having to involve the core as much.
  8. Archer Push-Up – Archer push-ups are the final progression before diving into the ultimate push-ups. While doing this unilateral movement, you will have one arm in the standard push-up position and the other fully outstretched to your side. In order to perform this movement without injury, you must spread your feet apart to widen your base. The arm closest to your body will be pushing the majority of your body weight. You can modify this push-up a bit by moving the out stretched arm closer to you or by lifting your fingers off the ground.
  9. Sphinx Push-Up – Sphinx push-ups are debatably the most difficult push-up to do with good form. It completely removes the chest and shoulders from the movement and forces you to use only your triceps. Do not try these push-ups unless you are very confident in your triceps strength. You start laying on your forearms as if you were holding a plank. From there keeping your elbows pointing back, press from your palms and only extend the elbows to lift your body higher. It is best to protract your shoulder blades to avoid elbow injury.
  10. Hand Stand Push-Up – The hand stand push-up is in my opinion the hardest push-up one can do. It’s all in the name. You start by holding a full handstand with your hands just outside shoulder width. Then you lower your body towards the ground while simultaneously leaning your legs back so that you may bend the arms further. If you can do push-ups like these, you are likely a very talented gymnast.

As you can see, there are a multitude of push-ups that can done across many levels. I love when people come up to me and think that push-ups are just for the hardcore military guys. No way, in my years as a personal trainer in Amarillo, I have seen people who can barely hold themselves up to those with little stamina make amazing strides towards their goals with this exercise. No matter what level you are beginning at, there will always be a harder push-up for you to do. The best way to progress in push-up strength is to do as many repetitions of the hardest push-up you are able to perform with good form and then do as many as you can of the progression below it. For example, the hardest push-up I can do with good form is the archer push-up. I perform as many reps with that as I can on both sides and then move down to tricep push-ups. Now that you know where to begin, I hope to see you achieve your desired level of upper body strength using the most famous (or infamous) upper body exercise there is.

If you have any questions about our personal training, nutrition counseling, or group classes and programs, please contact us at: info@customfitness.biz or 806-322-3188. At Custom Fitness we are YOUR personal trainers in Amarillo, Texas. Have a great day everybody.