Top 16 Push-Up Variations (Part 1)

Push-ups give you a full body workout, burn fat and build muscle, and you can do them anywhere. Learn Get-Fit Guy’s top 16 push-up variations, plus get an instructional video.

Ben Greenfield
4-minute read
Episode #113

#2. Feet-Elevated Push-Up. When your hands are placed lower than the rest of your body during the push-up, you’ll tend to work more of your upper chest and shoulders – and push-ups with the feet elevated require higher upper body force production than any other variation. Because of gravity, a feet-elevated push-up also puts more overall stress on your upper body and less on your legs. To make this version even more difficult, do your feet-elevated push-ups with fists, rather than with your hands flat on the ground. Shifting to your fists creates a smaller surface area of your hand in contact with the ground, which increase balance requirements for many of your smaller arm muscles.

#3. Torso-Elevated Push-Up. When your hands are higher than the rest of your body during the push-up, you will tend to work more of your lower chest and abs. Furthermore, when you use an unstable surface such as a stability ball as the elevated surface, you significantly increase the activation of the triceps muscles on the backs of your arms. In addition, the front and sides of your abs work harder, and your overall muscle activation is greater with an unstable surface. Just be careful doing push-ups on a stability ball – the last thing you want is a broken nose!

#4. Handle Grip Push-Up. If you don’t happen to have two chairs or elevated surfaces that you can place your hands on, you can also increase the range-of-motion of a push-up by simply holding onto two dumbbells during the push-up. For added difficulty on this push-up variation, you can do a row with one of the dumbbells after each push-up.


About the Author

Ben Greenfield

Ben Greenfield received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from University of Idaho in sports science and exercise physiology; personal training and strength and conditioning certifications from the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA); a sports nutrition certification from the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN), an advanced bicycle fitting certification from Serotta. He has over 11 years’ experience in coaching professional, collegiate, and recreational athletes from all sports, and as helped hundreds of clients achieve weight loss and fitness success.