Want to perfect your pushup? We’ve got the plan to help you master this strengthening exercise.

Exercises like pullups, pushups and planks are bucket-list worthy exercises for two reasons. First: They’re %$*&ing hard. Second: They require strength in muscle groups often weak in female runners—arms, core and back. Although these moves are tough, they’re not impossible. And like anything in life, if you put in the work, you will receive a great return. So, are you ready to accept the challenge? First up, mastering the push up.

It is important that you don’t exhaust yourself in the gym by trying these exercises over and over again. Focus on the step-by-step training a few days a week to help you develop the appropriate amount of strength to master each stage of the push up with good form.

From the start, you will be building endurance and balance for running, and you’ll produce noticeable strength gains.

Master the Pushup

Why? To build upper-body strength in your chest, shoulders, triceps, core and glutes. These gains will help you run faster, especially up hills or during a finish-line kick.
Your challenge: Perform 5 continuous pushups.

Complete these exercises every 2 to 3 days so your runs don’t suffer from full-body fatigue.

(a) Start with standing pushups on the wall. Stand an arm’s length away from the wall with feet shoulder-width apart and hands flat on the wall.
(b) Keeping a flat back, slowly lean in until your chest is almost touching the wall, bending and tucking the elbows close to the body. Perform three sets of 5 to 15 reps with enough rest between each set to keep good form.

Once you can easily perform three sets of 15 wall pushups, move to incline pushups on a bench. (a) With your hands on a bench and feet straight behind the body, (b) perform a normal pushup, keeping elbows close to the body. Complete three sets of 5 to 15 reps.

When you can easily perform three sets of 15 incline pushups, move to a modified pushup with bent knees. (a) Lie on the floor and place your hands wider than shoulder-width apart, weight resting on your knees and ankles crossed. (b) Press your chest off the floor with elbows close to your side and then slowly lower. Perform three sets of 5 to 15 reps.

When you can easily perform three sets of 15 pushups on your knees, you are ready to do the standard pushup. Take as much time as you need to perform 5 pushups in one session (resting in between). At your next session, try to perform 2 or 3 continuous pushups and work your way up to 5 pushups without stopping.

Try one of these tough pushup variations:
(a) feet stacked on each other, (b) feet on a Swiss ball, (c) hands on a Swiss ball or (d) one hand on a med ball.

I get asked this by so many of my female clients. Yes, they are hard. Why? Because they are a full body exercise. It’s not just about your arms and/or your chest. Your whole body needs to be working to execute this exercise effectively. When you are doing a proper push up, your legs, bum, deep core muscles and upper body are all working hard. It may take some time to develop the art of a proper push up for even one rep and even longer to do several, but one good rep is better than 50 bad ones. All good movement takes time and is more than worth it. You can check out the series from on how to get started on getting to a full push up.

The movement and executing it well is very important. Your consistency in working on this movement is what will make the difference. You need to commit to working on your push ups at least twice a week for at least 6-12 weeks to make a difference. So many women try to do push ups, find them hard and then resolve that they will be forever bad at them. Ahem! We recognize that you can get next day delivery from Amazon but that’s it, everything else, especially in the way of training, takes time!

Push ups, done well, are tough. They are not impossible. The difference between doing them well and not doing them (or doing them badly) is the time you commit to doing them right. Walking was hard before you could do it. If you stopped walking for any period of time, it would become difficult again and you may also have pain and stiff neck. Don’t limit yourself. It’s actually not that complicated, but it does require patience.


How to prioritise your training

I have been programming for Amy which she had been following beautifully…until last week! I had programmed five hill sprints at a set incline and Amy was to choose the pace. Now in case you haven’t done them before, hill sprints are no joke. They hurt but done at the right intensity, they get you fit quick. You generally dread the first hill and pretty much all the others thereafter. Not satisfied with 5 hill sprints however, Amy did 15! I fell off my chair.

This screamed that the speed/incline that Amy was going at was not enough, certainly if 10 more sprints were done quite comfortably. Now we already know that less is more when it comes to training, train smarter not harder is the general Fit Girl mantra if you’ve forgotten have a quick refresh of What your training week should look like and How to prioritise your training. Doing more than programmed, defeats the purpose of the session. But how are you to know what a session should feel like? Look at your programme/workout. If not specified, you should have a vague idea of the intensity of a session, anything with the word sprint in it should indicate go time!

If an interval/sprint session feels easy (it shouldn’t) you can increase the intensity in the following ways:

  • Increase the speed/incline
  • Increase the time/reps (within reason!)
  • Reduce the rest time

If you increase the speed/incline, your programmed rest time may now be sufficient as it should take you longer to recover from a more intense work set. Equally if you don’t change the pace but reduce the rest time, giving yourself just enough time to recover, you will also have a good training effect.

Here is an example:

5 x 30 second hill sprints @ 5% incline @ 15kph with 2 minutes rest in between

If this is too easy and you feel you could do more than prescribed, you may adapt it in the following ways:

Increase the incline e.g. 5 x 30 second hill sprints @ 8% incline @ 15/kph with 2 minutes rest in between each.

Increase the speed e.g. 5 x 30 second hill sprints @ 5% incline @16-17.5kph (it is up to you to find a new pace that works for you) with 2 minutes rest in between each.

Increase the sprint time e.g. 5 x 45 second hill sprints @ 5% incline @ 15kph with 2 minutes rest in between each.

Reduce the rest time e.g. 5 hill sprints @ 5% incline @15kph with 1 minute rest in between.

Note here that all the adjustments made were small. Remember, Amy did triple the amount of work that she was supposed to. Had she have made any of the intensity adjustments above, she would have had a much greater training effect from her workout. Increasing the reps to such a high volume indicated that the reps were not something Amy needed to increase. I programmed five hill sprints, I wanted her hating them after at least three! I got Amy to increase the speed and after a few weeks I will either reduce her rest time, increase the incline, or get her to do one or two more sprints.

The key is to keep assessing how your sessions feel. Even over a few weeks you can increase the intensity of your pace as you get fitter. Again it is useful to keep a training log so it is easy to compare sessions.

If your programming is right for you you should have a gradual increase in intensity over time and be able to keep up with it.

As long as you are moving with good form ask yourself these key questions:

Does the intensity feel too easy or the weight too light?
Is the recovery period sufficient?

If yes to one or both, then start adjusting the pace/weight/rest accordingly. This may seem like a hassle at first as you try to find your ideal numbers but the more time you focus on getting it right the more fine tuned your training will become! And be smart here FGs which means being honest with yourselves too, the weight/pace you might like to go at versus the weight/pace you can actually go at, may be too different things. If you are patient with the latter, the former will come!

Tricep Push-Ups: Why Are They Working the Triceps?!?

Everyone knows that triceps push-ups work the triceps, duh, that’s why they’re called tricep push-ups. But do you know why they work the triceps more? You might say “because the elbows are tucked in”, but that’s like asking “why do you like french fries?” and answering with “because they’re good!”.

It’s not because we just want them to.

I know that they’re quite a few people that do not know the reason why, and that group included me as well, I had no exact knowledge as to why the triceps become more active when the elbows are tucked in, I just knew they burned like mofos when keeping those elbows tucked in. But I wanted to know ‘why?’.

I have not gone past page one of Google because I believe Google is so good that the results I’m after would be listed on page one, so don’t get mad at me if it’s out there somewhere, but for now I can’t find the answer to the question “why do tricep push-ups work the triceps?“.

So, I’m going to put my neck on the line because I don’t care if I’m proven wrong and learn something new. I’ve used my common sense on this one, and after analysing the angle, and looking at the muscles, origin and insertion, I will make an uneducated guess.

With the chest push-up which is where the hands and arms are positioned in the same angle as you would with a barbell chest press (you know, the one you see in every gym), the big difference being that the body is turned upside down. The pectoralis major muscle group is contracted to push ourselves away from the ground. Following is the origin and insertion for this muscle which is important to know as it gives you an idea of what happens when the muscles are contracted, and how that moves the bones.

a. Clavicular head: medial half of the clavicle.
b. Sternal head: sternum, upper costal cartilages (1-6), and the aponeurosis of the external oblique.

Which means that one part is attached to your clavicle, which is also called your collarbone, the other part is attached to your upper costal cartilages, which in easy to understand terms is near the middle of your chest where the ribs start.

a. Lateral lip of the intertubercular (bicipital) groove of the humerus.
b. Crest of the greater tubercle of the humerus.

On the other side, both parts of the pectoralis major are connected near the top of your upper arm at the bicipital groove.

In other words and simplistic terms, this goes from the medial area of your chest till about 1/6 down off your upper arm. Contract these muscles and they pull your arm inwards towards the midline, hence it pushes you away from the ground, or the barbell away from your body.

BTW, in a chest push-up you still engage your triceps, but more towards the last 10% of the push-up, this is to lock-out the elbows. If your pectorals where not there, well, you probably would not be able to initiate the press, but to prove a point, let’s say you were able to, then the triceps would have to do a hell of a lot more work, yes? OK, just keep that bit in the back of your mind while we continue.

Now, none of that really explained why the triceps come more into action when the elbows are tucked in, but it makes you understand why the pectoralis are the prime movers for the chest-press and chest push-up.

OK, lets tuck those elbows in. I’m not sure if the guy above has his elbow tucked in tightly, but lets just say that he does have them tightly tucked in for the sake of this article.

What I would like you to do now is stand upright with one arm laterally outwards (hand inline with shoulder), if you’re male, bring your other hand from the midline —if you’re female you can too, but it’s going to become slightly odd— and slide across your chest to the bicipital groove which is the insertion of the pectoralis major. This was one straight line yes? Yes! Great.

Now think about you being in a game of tug-o-war, you’re facing your opponent in a direct line. Same as the line your pectoralis insertion and origin is in when your arm is raised laterally. Now think of a pole in the ground and your tug-o-war opponent walks the rope around and now stands almost next to you. Things are going to become quite hard now since there is a fold in the rope so to say, yes? I hope you’re still with me, because I know I’m taking a long time to make my point, but if all of the above is clear, you’ll soon see what I mean.

Now stand straight and let your arm hang (same position as in a tricep push-up), slide your hand across the chest again till the insertion point, hey, there is a fold —and your armpit is in-between! This fold takes out the pectoralis as the prime mover, and now your triceps become the strongest muscle group in the action of the push-up as they make up two-thirds of your upper arm mass. The next muscle inline is your front deltoid and this is not as strong as the large chest muscle, hence your triceps get a banging if your chest can’t help with the work due to the fold in the line, i.e. there is no direct line from insertion to origin.

It’s because the stronger muscle, pectoralis major, can’t be the prime mover.

Lets take this a bit further. The pecs simply aren’t made to act upon the upper arm in the position where the elbows are tucked in, at least not in the way we would want it to —push us away from the ground. The pecs medially rotate the arm when it’s hanging. Stand straight, thumb pointing forward, now try and point the thumb in while rotating at the shoulder, this is the action on the arm by the pecs in tricep push-up position.

You might have seen me categorise/name push-ups as chest/hybrid/tricep or 90/45/0 degrees. I do get some strange looks sometimes, but I don’t care, because I’m right on this one, no debating there! 90 degree angle between elbow and ribs works the chest, same reason you call a chest press a ‘chest press’, 0 degree angle works the triceps, hence we call them tricep push-ups, and if you’re in between (45 degrees) the chest and tricep push-up it’s hybrid, which means of mixed character; composed of different elements.

Now, I did not read this stuff anywhere and I’m just looking at the anatomy of things, so I’m here to stand corrected, but it sure does make a lot of sense to me. If it doesn’t, then you tell me why are the triceps more active in the tricep push-up?!

Your thoughts on this facebook post or below. And buy our new book here. Just do it.

Related article(s):

  • Floor or bench press, who cares where your hands are!

BTW for you sicko’s out there, here’s a clip of a pectoralis major rupturing! One of the reasons I don’t barbell chest press, but kettlebell chest press. Don’t watch if you don’t like EEEK! moments.

7 Tricep Push-Up Variations That Will Build Massive Arms


Performing standard Push-Ups with your hands at shoulder-width will strengthen and build your chest, shoulder, triceps, core and abdomen muscles. But if your focus is primarily on increasing your arm size, bring your hands closer together and keep your elbows tight to your sides. The result: bigger triceps.

Below are several challenging Tricep Push-Up variations you can conveniently do using minimal equipment. Include some of them during your full-body workouts along with multi-joint pushing and pulling movements—e.g., Overhead Presses, Bench Presses, Pull-Ups, and Barbell Rows—to further boost arm size.


  • Med ball or basketball
  • Swiss ball
  • 2 dumbbells
  • Bench, chair or stair step
  • Water bottle
  • Timer (optional)


  • Do an upper- and lower-body dynamic warm-up.
  • Finish with cooldown static upper- and lower-body stretches for greater flexibility and range of motion.
  • Hydrate before, during and after workouts.
  • Do workouts on non-consecutive days for adequate recovery.
  • Choose 3 Tricep Push-Up exercises during each full-body workout.
  • Sets/Reps: 3×10
  • Rest 30 seconds between sets, 60 seconds between exercises.
  • Rep tempo: 2 seconds to lower (eccentric phase); 1 second pressing up (concentric phase).
  • For advanced Tricep Push-Up variations, perform them with either your feet or your toes elevated.
  • To isolate the triceps, make sure your elbows are close to your sides (don’t let them flare out); keep your back straight with no lower back sagging, and tighten your abdomen.

1. Conventional Triceps Push-Up

Assume a regular Push-Up position, but place your hands close together and below shoulder level—between your chest and your neck—to target your triceps.

RELATED: 3D Triceps Workout: 3 Exercises for Huge Arms

2. Med Ball Version

Assume the Push-Up position with your hands close together atop a med ball or basketball. This variation not only forces your triceps to work harder, but also improves balance and core stabilization, since your hands are on an unstable surface.

RELATED: For Bigger Arms and Better Performance, Train Your Triceps

3. Reversed Hands Atop the Med Ball

  • Start in a seated position with the ball behind you.
  • Place your hands close together on the ball either with your fingertips facing toward your back or away from your body.
  • Again, the key is to keep your elbows close to your sides.
  • Keep your legs extended with your heels on the floor (more intense than with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor).
  • More advanced: Try the movement with your heels atop a bench or chair.

Performing Push-Ups with your hands on a med ball or basketball also strengthens your hands and wrists—essential for pushing off and blocking in football and passing in basketball.

RELATED: Why You Need Strong Triceps

4. Neutral-Grip Version (Hands on Dumbbell Handles)

With two dumbbells vertically placed close together a few inches apart, assume a Push-Up position with your hands gripping the dumbbell handles (palms facing each other). The dumbbells should be directly under your upper chest. Keep your head and shoulders in front of the dumbbells to isolate your triceps.

5. Reverse Dumbbell Version

This variation starts with the dumbbells placed close together vertically behind your back. Sit on the floor with your legs extended and resting on your heels. Grasp the dumbbells with a neutral grip and press yourself up (hips off the ground). Don’t bend your knees. Keep your back straight, your heels pressed into the floor, and tense your triceps at the top of the movement. Slowly lower to start position and repeat. More challenging: Do the exercise with your heels atop the med ball, chair or bench.

6. Swiss Ball Version

In what is perhaps the hardest of all the versions, assume a push-up position with your hands close together on a Swiss ball. Place your hands under your upper chest and let your head and shoulders extend beyond your hands. Besides targeting your triceps and upper-body muscles for building size and improving upper- and lower-body balance, the unstable ball challenges your core muscles. As always, make sure to tighten your abdominal muscles and prevent your lower back from sagging. For added intensity and enhanced balance and core strength, try performing the exercise with one foot off the floor!

7. Toes on the Swiss Ball

Another more challenging variation. Start in a push-up position with your hands close together on the floor and your toes elevated on the Swiss ball. As in the previous version, your core and triceps muscles (and other upper-body muscles) are all tested during this movement with your feet on the unstable ball. For even more of a challenge, perform the movement with one foot off the ball.

Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock

Here’s how to build a bigger upper body with diamond push ups

Are you trying to build a bigger upper body using only your bodyweight?

Well, you’re in luck because you’re about to discover one of the best exercises for building a bigger upper body without having to step inside a gym.

We get it. It’s tough to make time to workout, but with the diamond push-up, you can create a firmer, more defined physique from almost anywhere.

Make sure you read this article all the way to end because not only will you learn everything about this incredible exercise including the which muscles it works and how to do it… but you’ll also learn about some of the coolest push-up variations complete with a sample workout.

What is a Diamond Push-Up?

The diamond push-up is a compound exercise that works your chest, core, back, shoulders, triceps – even the quads and glutes. They’re performed by placing your feet and hands on the floor (with opposite hands touching) with your back straight and using your chest and arm muscles to descend and ascend the weight of your body off the floor.

This exercise goes by a few additional names including:

  • Diamond Kiss Push-Up
  • Triangle Push-Up
  • Diamond Press-Up

Diamond Push-Ups vs. Regular Push-Ups

There’s one primary difference between diamond and regular push-ups.

In a traditional push-up, your hands are placed far apart just outside your shoulders, and this stance is what makes it one of the best push-up variations to build chest mass.

With a diamond push-up, your hands are closer together, with your fingers and thumbs forming a diamond or triangle shape, and this moves the focus from your chest muscles to your triceps.

Your basic form stays the same:

  • Hands are flat on the floor
  • Legs extended behind you
  • Body is in a straight line from shoulders to ankles

What Muscles Do Diamond Push-Ups Work?

LA Tip: For a great push up variation, try diamond push ups. Benefits include strong triceps, chest, front deltoids and core muscles. pic.twitter.com/pZFbkC1uYD

— LA Muscle (@LAMuscle) January 6, 2017

Are diamond push-ups any good? Can you build muscle with push-ups? Sure you can!

Here are the main muscles worked by diamond push-ups:

  • Chest (pectoralis major)
  • Triceps
  • Shoulders (deltoids)
  • Back (rhomboid and trapezius)

These are the general muscle groups that diamond push-ups work, but different types of push-ups will emphasize different groups.

A diamond push-up targets your triceps first. The triceps is the muscle that runs along the back of your arm, and they work with your biceps to help you extend and retract your forearm.

Your chest (pectoralis major) and shoulders (anterior deltoids) are secondary. But, don’t be fooled, they also get major benefits from this exercise.

These are the secondary muscles that get activated when performing this exercise because they’re required for stabilization:

  • Abs (rectus abdominus)
  • Obliques
  • Glutes
  • Quadriceps

Why are Diamond/Triangle Push-Ups So Hard?

The triangle push-up is a lot more challenging than a traditional push-up because your hands are so close together. Unlike the classic push-up, the diamond forces you to balance yourself because of the smaller base of support.

And, since your triceps are a smaller, weaker muscle compared to your chest, pushing your body weight is much more difficult.

Additionally, keeping your feet together while you are doing diamond push-ups will require even more balance and that will really engage your core – especially your internal and external obliques.

4 Undeniable Diamond Push-Ups Benefits

There are many benefits and results to including diamond push-ups in your regular workout routine so let’s go through a few of them.

1. They May Be the Most Effective Triceps Exercise

Let alone this exercise being the best push-up for triceps, a study from the American Council on Exercise (ACE) found the most effective tricep exercise is a diamond push-up, better than dips or triceps kickbacks.

Diamond push-ups will increase your triceps activation and bring a lot of definition to the back of your arms.

Diamond Push-Ups vs Dips

Diamond push-ups are often compared to the dips exercise because of their similar abilities to work the triceps and chest, but which one is better?

Well, dips work these muscles more like a vertical bench press movement. Because of this, dips require you have healthier shoulders to perform consistently.

Alternatively, diamond push-ups put less emphasis on your shoulders and more activation on the triceps. This is why diamond push-ups are often preferred over dips.

2. Diamond Push-Ups Are Great for Chest Development

Contrary to popular belief, studies show the chest also gets a great workout. The narrow position of your hands puts stress on the pec minor and pec major muscles.

3. They’re Great Push-Ups for Shoulders

Stronger shoulders is also a benefit of diamond push-ups because they put more pressure on the shoulder joint compared to a traditional push-up, and that will challenge your anterior deltoid and prepare it for other push-up variations.

4. Diamond Push-Ups Allow for Faster Progression to More Advanced Variations

If you want to be a major bad-ass, and progress to one arm push-ups, being able to do a perfect triangle push-up is key. To get to that point, you have to start with perfecting traditional push-ups. Once you can do about 20 of those with perfect form, then you should move on to conquering the diamond form.

Despite what most guys think, you don’t want to just increase your volume when it comes to bodyweight movements. Doing 100 diamond push-ups each day isn’t going to give you great results.

Instead, once you can do those comfortably (and with the proper form), you move on to archer push-ups, which is where you leave one arm out perpendicular to your body with just your fingertips touching the ground.

And, the final step is a one-arm push-up.When you get to that point, your triceps muscles should be huge and defined.

How To Do Diamond Push-Ups for Beginners

Here’s Staff Sergeant Chris Moore performing a diamond push up.

Get in a plank position with your hands touching just under your pectoral muscles. Bring your thumbs and index fingers together so they touch and form a triangle or diamond shape. Unbend your elbows and lock out your triceps to form a straight diagonal line from your feet to your head.

While keeping your elbows tight to your rib cage and upper obliques, lower your upper body back to the floor using your abdominal muscles for stability. Just before your pectorals reach the floor, press your body back to the start position.

If you are able to do regular push-ups but are having trouble with diamonds, slowly bring your hands closer and closer with every workout, until you can do a diamond with your hands together.

Or, if they are too difficult at first where you can’t do them with perfect form, change your incline and put your hands on a bench while keeping your feet on the floor. This will take some of the weight off of your arms and make the push-up easier.

If you can, consider performing super slow diamond push-ups. You’ll benefit from more time under tension that translates to more muscle activation.

Basic Diamond Push-Up Workout to Build Muscle

Diamond (triangle) push-ups are already pretty difficult to master, but here’s a very basic workout routine to build muscle only using diamond push-ups.

Exercise: Diamond Push-Up

Total Sets: As many as needed

Total Reps: 50

The idea is to complete 50 diamond push-ups in as many sets as you need in this workout plan. Use good form on every repetition.

For this regimen, your goal is to complete more reps per set for the next session. Maybe you’ll even do all 50 in a row someday!

Why Diamond Push-Ups Are an Awesome Exercise

Diamond push-ups are the perfect exercise for building the size and strength of your triceps, and they also have major benefits for your chest and shoulders.

You can incorporate them in into an existing bodybuilding routine, or just stack multiple sets of this exercise on top of each other. Just remember, when they become too easy, it’s time to progress and try something more advanced.

Consider performing them elevated by pushing against a solid object or using a decline by putting your feet on a bench. This will alter the difficulty of the exercise.

Push-ups of all kinds and styles should be a workout staple if you want maximum triceps and chest gains.

12 Different Types of Push-Up Variations

Here are some excellent types of push ups to build your chest and triceps.

Traditional and diamond push-ups are great exercises to build a killer upper body, that doesn’t mean they’re the best push-up variations out there.

There are plenty of other kinds of push-ups and positions that target different muscle groups, benefit different experience levels, and look pretty cool too.

Here are some additional push-up variations and the muscles they work.

Not every push-up variation is difficult. In fact, some of them are pretty easy.

Here are a few push-up alternates that are easy for beginners just getting started.

1. Wall Push-Up

Wall push-ups are a great place for beginners to start.

Wall push-ups target all the same muscles as traditional push-ups like arms, chest, back, and shoulders, but with much less resistance. The form for this variation goes like this:

  • Face towards a wall making sure to stand a little more than arm’s length away
  • Plant your feet shoulder width apart
  • Lean forward and place your hands flat on the wall shoulder width apart
  • Slowly bend your elbows and allow your upper body move closer to the wall
  • Pause at the bottom
  • Unbend your elbows to push yourself away from the wall and back to starting position

2. Countertop Push-Ups

Countertop push ups increase the resistance slightly.

This version is performed the say way as a wall push-up, but decreases the incline, adding slightly more difficulty to the exercise.

  • Face towards a countertop or stable piece of furniture as tall as your waist
  • Stand at arm’s length away with your feet shoulder width apart
  • Lean forward and place your hands on the corner of the counter. This is starting position
  • Bend your elbows and slowly lower your body towards the counter
  • When you’re about a few inches away from the counter, pause and push yourself back to starting position

3. Incline Chair Push-Ups

Chair push ups use a shallower angle to increase difficulty.

This alternative push-up takes the principles from the countertop and wall versions and adds a little more resistance once again. Here’s how to do it:

  • Place your hands flat on the seat of a secure chair with your arms shoulder width apart (grab the chair handles or arms if it’s more comfortable)
  • Keep your body and legs straight out behind you and prop yourself up so you’re at an inclined angle
  • Lower your body slowly by bending at the elbows
  • When your elbows reach a 90 degree angle, pause and then push against the chair to return your body back to starting position

4. Straight Arm Push-Ups

Straight arm push ups remove the chest and arms from the exercise.

Straight arm push-ups require that you’re able to hold your body in the regular position, but you won’t actually be bending your arms. This variation will work your major back muscles like your rhomboids and trapezius. Here’s how to do it:

  • Start in a regular push-up position down on the floor with your hands positioned under your shoulders and your feet at about hip width
  • Give a slight exhale while pressing your shoulder blades apart. Your upper back should ascend up towards the ceiling.
  • With your abs tight, inhale again and allow your shoulder blades to move towards each other. Your chest should move towards the floor.
  • Repeat

5. Negative Push-Ups

Negative push ups transition well into regular push ups.

If you’re not ready for a regular push-up just yet, negative push-ups are a good alternative that will still work almost all the same muscles.

  • Start in a regular push-up position down on the floor with your hands positioned under your shoulders and your feet at about hip width
  • With your body straight, lower yourself down slowly to the floor by unbending your elbows counting five seconds or more in your head
  • Try to go as far down as you can before completing the repetition and allowing your knees to catch your bodyweight

Advanced Push-Ups

If you’ve managed to master the traditional push-up and you can complete 20 or more reps in a single set, then you’re probably ready for a more advanced variation. Here are a few to get you started.

6. Biceps Push-Ups

Biceps push ups are the best inner arm push up variation.

Just like this name suggests, biceps push-ups are a great exercise that works your biceps muscles. Here’s the setup:

  • Start in the regular push-up position
  • Orient your hands so your fingers are pointed towards your feet and position them in line with the middle of your back
  • Lower down by bending your elbows and tucking them towards your body
  • Once you get pretty close to the floor, push yourself back up

7. Wide Grip Push-Ups for Inner Chest

Use the wide grip push up for inner chest development.

Even though regular push-ups do a good job of working your chest muscles, you can use the wide grip variation for specific targeting and work your inner chest.

  • Start in a regular push-up position
  • Position your hands wider than shoulder width by 1.5x
  • With a tight core and glutes, lower yourself to the floor
  • When your chest touches the floor, push yourself back up to starting position

8. Medicine Ball Push-Ups

Medicine ball push ups require more stabilizer muscles to perform.

For this type of push-up, you’re going to brace your upper body on a medicine ball. This exercise works your chest, triceps, and core primarily.

  • Place a heavy medicine ball on the floor
  • Using your core and arms to stabilize yourself, get into a standard push-up position with both hands placed on the medicine ball
  • Slowly lower yourself towards the ball using your abs to keep yourself steady
  • When you get close to the ball, yourself back up to starting position

9. Inverted Push-Ups (aka Decline Push-Ups)

Inverted push ups put more emphasis on the shoulders and upper chest.

Of all the styles, these may be one the most difficult. They’re also the best push-ups to work your shoulders since your delts receive most of the emphasis during the movement. Plus, they’re great at working your upper chest.

Here’s how to do them:

  • Kneel on the floor in front of a chair or box
  • Get into a regular push-up position, but place your feet on the seat of the chair so they’re elevated higher than your shoulders
  • Bend your elbows and lower your upper body to the floor
  • When your face gets close to the floor push yourself back up to starting position

10. V Push-Ups

V push-ups are another style that will primarily work your chest and shoulders because of how you’re inverted. This is how to do one:

  • Get into a regular push-up position but move your feet closer to your hands to your butt sticks up in the air so your body makes an upside down “V”
  • Slightly raise the balls of your feet off the floor
  • Bend at the elbows and allow your head and body to move towards the floor
  • Push yourself back to starting position

11. Star Push-Ups

Star push-ups are very dynamic in that they require you to actually get air-born for a split second to change your position. Here’s how to do them:

  • Start in regular push-up position
  • Bend your elbows and lower yourself until your chest is an inch or two from the floor
  • With an explosive motion, push your body up from the floor while simultaneously widening the position of your hands and feet
  • Land with your hands and feet in a slightly wider position
  • Bend your elbows again and lower your body down again
  • With the same explosive motion, push your body up, but shorten the position of your hands and feet
  • Land with your hands in feet back in their original position

12. Diver Push-Ups (aka Dive Bomber Push-Ups)

The main benefit of dive bomber push-ups has to be the number of muscles worked. This variation not only hits your chest, triceps, shoulders, and upper back but also your lower back and abs too. Here’s how to perform one safely:

  • Start in the same position as the V push-ups by getting down on the floor with your feet and hands about hip width apart and your hips pushed high into the air
  • Bend your elbows and lower your hips, but as your chest nears the floor, keep moving forward across the floor
  • Allow your hips to drop towards the floor while sticking your chest up past your arms and locking out your triceps
  • Reverse the movement until your hips are back in the air

Advanced Push-Up Workout Routine for Mass

Here’s a sample calisthenics program that incorporates various advanced push-up types. Repeat the entire workout through 3 cycles. Rest 10 seconds between sets and 30-60 seconds between cycles.

  • 3 sets x 5 reps – Star Push-Ups
  • 3 sets x 10 reps – Diamond Push-Ups
  • 3 sets x 10 reps – Wide Grip Push-Ups
  • 3 sets x 10 reps – Decline Push-Ups
  • 3 sets x 10 reps – Dive Bomber Push-Ups

As you progress with this workout, you can either shorten your rest times, add more exercises, add more sets, or even add more resistance with plates on your back or wearing a weighted vest.

Want to Build Super Functional Strength with Push-Ups?

Yes, all the information on this page can help you build a great chest and bigger arms, but you can’t use push-ups alone to build the body of your dreams.

To build super functional strength and size, you need a targeted bodyweight program that’s designed to take you through structured phases of strength that lead to impressive muscle gains.

Luckily for you, we reviewed one of the most infamous calisthenics programs ever created, Convict Conditioning. Check out this program to lean how you can get completely ripped using the same techniques that a convicted felon used to build jaw-dropping strength while he spent close to 20 years in federal prison.

Diamonds are a girl’s best friend—especially when it comes to sculpting killer arms. “Because of the position of your arms in a diamond pushup, it’s much harder on your triceps compared to regular pushups,” says Pete McCall, CSCS, a San Diego-based exercise physiologist.

How To Do A Diamond (Triangle) Pushup

How to: Assume a high plank position, hands on the floor underneath your chest and feet in line with your hips. Bring your thumbs and forefingers together almost directly under your chest to form a diamond or triangle shape. Squeeze your thighs and glutes for stability. Lower your chest toward the ground, ensuring your elbows point back towards your feet. Lower until you’re about six inches from the ground, then push the floor away from you to return to the top.

Reps/sets for best results: Do as many reps as possible for one set, McCall says, dropping to your knees if needed. Start with two sets with 60 to 90 seconds of rest in between.

Benefits Of A Diamond Pushup

Diamond pushups are primarily a triceps strengthener—and they’re harder than other tri moves and regular pushups.

Your base is less stable when your hands are in a narrow diamond position, which forces your triceps to do most of the work, rather than your chest muscles, McCall says. (The diamond or triangle pushup also work your delts, traps, and most of your shoulder muscles—just like the OG variety.)

And compared to other triceps exercises, diamond pushups are one of the hardest, because you’re using your bodyweight and don’t have the mechanical advantages created by regular strength training machines, McCall explains. Bonus: It’s so simple, you can do it anywhere, without any equipment.

Make Diamond Pushups Part Of Your Workout

Aim to incorporate diamond pushups into your regular strength workout two to three times a week. “To increase strength and definition, incorporate them toward the beginning of the workout when your muscles feel the strongest,” says McCall.

Since these are pushing moves, one option is to pair them with a pulling move (any type of row or pullup) to use the muscles on both sides of the shoulders and arms, McCall says. Another option: Really build up your muscles by following this tri burner with another, like overhead triceps extension. “That’s a great way to promote muscle growth or definition,” he says.

Once you can churn out three sets of a high rep count, make it harder by elevating your feet for a slightly declined diamond pushup, McCall suggests. Now, go forth and let those triceps shine!

Rachael Schultz Rachael Schultz is a freelance writer with years of experience covering health, nutrition, and physiology.

(Last Updated On: 07/22/2019)

Pushups are considered the most popular form of body-weight exercise among fitness enthusiasts. This apparently simple form of exercise needs you to support your entire body mass on your hands and feet, and once you accomplish this, you are required to move your body up and down.

If you are someone who regularly performs pushups, you will be aware of its negative side. The pain in your arms caused by continuous movement of the body starts killing you and urges you to stop doing it immediately. But don’t worry, all the hard work you do during the pushups always pays off. These pushups are considered to be one of the most extreme types of body weight exercises that can maximally help support your triceps.

So it’s definitely worth it if you invest all your time and energy into performing pushups. But there are so many different types of pushups out there. Which one should you try? Allow me to present to you the diamond pushups.

What do you Mean by Diamond Pushups?

Diamond pushups are pretty much like your regular pushups with a slight change in the way you use your hands. In the conventional form of pushups, you are required to place your hands outside the shoulders, far apart from each other. This is what helps grow the muscles of your chest.

However, in the case of diamond pushups, the hands must be placed close to each other. You must use all your fingers and the thumb to acquire the shape of a diamond. This will help you focus on the triceps more than the muscles. The rest of your body remains the same, i.e. your hands are on the floor with extended legs and straightening up the body.

As far as the movements are concerned, they do not change except for slight changes. The regular pushup requires you to bend and flare your elbows to both sides. In the case of diamond pushups, these elbows do not flare out. Instead, you need to keep them close to your either side.

Irrespective of the type, a pushup exercise is meant to help you grow your shoulders, triceps, and chest. However, different types of exercise can be tried to gain variable results and focus on one particular muscle group.

In the case of diamond pushups, the first muscle group to get targeted is the tricep muscles. These muscles extend at the entire back of the arm and work together with the biceps for extension and flexion of the forearms. Then comes your shoulder muscles or the anterior deltoids, and the chest or the pectoralis major muscles.

Diamond pushups are generally said to be tougher and require a lot more stamina than the conventional forms because you need to keep your hands together. This means that the base supporting you is smaller and it makes it difficult to support your body.

Why Should You Try Diamond Pushups?

If diamond pushups are so hard to perform, why should you perform them in the first place? There are a lot of benefits to performing diamond pushups. Some of them are explained below for you.

1. They Boost the Activation of Triceps

Research has estimated that performing diamond pushups is one of the best ways to activate your tricep muscles. It is then followed by dips and the tricep kickback exercises.

So if you are someone who wishes to improve the strength of their triceps or define them a bit more, this type of pushup is your best option.

2. They Enhance Functional Strength

While performing pushups, one of the most commonly felt problems is the troubling feeling of pain that runs through your muscles. This may make you wonder how many muscles are being engaged as you move your body up and down.

While the feeling is extremely discomforting, it is the reason why you get maximum benefits out of the diamond pushups.

Performing any bodyweight exercise including diamond pushups gets all the major groups of muscles into action. These muscle groups include the biceps, triceps, anterior deltoids, and core muscles. All these muscles get activated to support the body and stabilize it.

3. It Makes Your Core Stronger

A lot of people are made to believe that performing diamond pushups can tone their arms. However, this is not true. As you perform diamond pushups, you are engaging all the muscles of your core. Therefore, this exercise helps you achieve all the benefits associated with a stronger core.

4. It Burns Calories and Helps Lose Weight

Weight loss is the dream of a lot of people and diamond pushups can help you achieve this dream quickly. Yes, the benefits of diamond pushups are a lot more than just toning your muscles. If you want a bodyweight exercise that also helps lose weight, diamond pushups are your best answer.

Diamond pushups are best for getting rid of massive amounts of calories in your body, especially the ones in the middle. Your body automatically turns on all of its fat-burning mechanisms as you repetitively move your body up and down.

This means that by doing diamond pushups, you will not only tone your body and strengthen the core, but also shed pounds and help achieve a leaner body.

5. It Boosts the Metabolism

While you perform diamond pushups, you are putting your body through extreme physical exertion. This may seem tough and make you want to quit at once; however, it also benefits you by making your heart work more.

The thing is, all the muscles of your body require oxygen for the production of energy. This energy is what helps you keep going through strenuous exercise. So where does your body get all this oxygen from? By making your heart pump the maximum amount of blood.

When this happens, the metabolic rate of your body increases, leading to a faster calorie burn.

Consider the metabolic rate as your direct link to burning calories. The higher you can make it go, the faster you burn calories.

6. It Improves Posture

Diamond pushups are considered to improve the strength of your core. This, in turn, improves your body posture and helps you prevent a lot of health problems that commonly occur with age.

Moreover, having a strong core makes it easier to support your entire body no matter what position you acquire. If you perform diamond pushups the way they are meant to be, they can also help make your posture a lot better.

7. It Prevents Shoulder Injury

Diamond pushups are known to be among the top methods for protecting the shoulders from injuries. This is especially true in older people who wish to exercise without damaging their body much.

Diamond pushups can help stabilize the muscles that are present around the rotator cuff joint. This area is particularly designed to strengthen a broad range of movements.

Besides this, diamond pushups also strengthen your body and boost health. By doing so, this can decrease the risk of injury, especially to your shoulders.

8. It Improves Balance and Stability

The diamond pushups can support the training of your muscle fibers which, in turn, helps keep the body in balance. This also makes your grip on your entire body a lot stronger and maintains stability.

The more diamond pushups you perform, the stability tends to keep increasing and imparts you with good speed and balance.

9. It Helps Muscle Stretching

Diamond pushups are considered the most underrated exercise for its ability to stretch the muscles making your biceps and the back. These pushups expose your body to continuous up and down movements. These movements especially affect the muscles of your back and help them stretch. In addition to this, as you push your body back to its original position, this helps stretch your biceps.

In addition to improving the flexibility of your body and preventing injuries, muscles that are well-stretched also provide your body with a better appearance and increase the element of attractiveness.

10. It Makes Your Cardiovascular System Better

Diamond pushups can be regarded as a compound exercise that engages different groups of muscles together. By engaging your muscles once at a time, you force them to work harder. This is to make sure that your muscles get the maximum amount of blood rich in oxygen.

As this happens, the efficiency at which your muscles are performing tends to rise slowly. With time, it gets an immense boost that can help support the health of your heart. This way, diamond pushups can become your very own cardiovascular exercise that makes your heart healthy and prevents you from developing many heart problems such as heart failure. At the same time, it also reduces the production of cholesterol and prevents hypercholesterolemia.


Diamond pushups are a different type of pushup that require you to keep both your hands by your body instead of stretching them out as in usual pushups. While this type of pushup is a lot harder than the conventional ones, it also provides a greater number of benefits, improves your heart health, and strengthens the core muscles. So do give it a try.

You may be wondering, what muscles do push ups work? Do they do any good, or are they just something used to torture recruits in basic training movies? To answer these questions, it is necessary to take a look at the muscles of your upper body.

Muscles of the Upper Torso

The short answer to the question, what muscles do push ups work is that they work the muscles of your upper torso. This is a simplification however.

The muscles of your upper torso include the following:

  • Pectoral muscles (pectoralis major and pectoralis minor)
  • Deltoid muscles (the muscles in the shoulder)
  • Muscles of the upper arm (biceps and triceps muscles)
  • Muscles of the upper back (latissimus dorsi, rhomboids and trapezius).

Each of these muscle groups are responsible for either flexion, extension, pushing or pulling.

What Muscles Do Push Ups Work?

Push ups work a number of the muscle groups of your upper torso. The following muscle groups are trained when doing push ups:

  • Pectoral muscles
  • Triceps (back of the arm)
  • Biceps (front of the arm)
  • Front and rear heads of the deltoids
  • Rhomboids and trapezius
  • Latissimus dorsi

Push Ups Are Power Moves

If you have very little time to exercise and are looking for a power move that will train a large number of muscle groups in one fell swoop, then push ups will definitely fit the bill. Not only do they train the above named muscles, but they also contribute to overall core strength. A properly performed pushup requires strength and stability of the core muscles including the abdominals and lower back, which leads to a further strengthening and stabilizing of these muscle groups, as well. At some point in a push up, nearly every muscle in your body is involved in the movement in some way or another.

Performing Proper Push Ups

Now that you are no longer wondering what muscles do push ups work, you may be curious about performing a proper push up. Properly performed push ups involve careful body positioning and controlled movement throughout. Here’s a quick rundown on how to properly perform a pushup.


  1. Assume the classic push up position – face down on the floor with your weight balanced on your toes and your hands.
  2. Place your hands slightly wider than your shoulders.
  3. Keep your legs and feet together.
  4. Keep your body as a straight line. To do this, imagine a rod running from the top of your head to your toes.
  5. Hold your abs in tight and tighten your gluteal muscles.
  6. Your back shouldn’t sag, nor should your bottom be up higher than the rest of the line of your body. These are common push up cheats that prevent you from gaining the full benefit of the exercise.

Performing the Push Up

  1. From the above position, slowly bend your arms and lower yourself towards the floor in a carefully controlled fashion.
  2. When your elbows are at a 90 degree angle, push yourself back up to the starting position.
  3. Don’t allow yourself to touch the floor with your body or lock your elbows when you get to the top of the move – this is resting and prevents you from realizing the full benefit of the move.
  4. Use controlled movement at all times to avoid relying on momentum to complete the move.
  5. Do as many controlled repetitions as your body allows. You’ll know when you’re done because you will allow your back to sag, lift your butt up into the air, or your body will just tell you that it is done.

Modified Push Ups

Beginners may want to try modified push ups to start. There are two ways to modify push ups – both having to do with the positioning of the body. The movement is as described above.

  • Bent-knee pushups used to be commonly referred to as “girl push ups”. Contrary to popular belief, this position isn’t just for girls. It is a great way to get your body used to doing push ups before you move into the full blown version. To perform a bent knee push up, position yourself as described above. However, instead of holding yourself on your hands and toes, support your body on your hands and knees, being careful to imagine that rod going from your head to where your knees touch the floor.
  • If you’ve tried bent knee push ups and you aren’t quite ready for those, you may want to try wall push ups. While these don’t have nearly the powerful punch that a full or bent-knee push up does, they are a great way to get your body ready to do the more difficult versions. To perform a wall push up:
    • Stand about 3 feet in front of an empty wall.
    • Lean towards the wall and touch it with both hands slightly wider than your shoulders. Keep your feet in their starting position.
    • Push yourself away from the wall until you are almost fully extended, but do not lock yourself in this position.
    • Lean into the wall again.
    • Repeat these movements until you are tired. Pain in your upper back signals that it is time to stop.

Do Push Ups Build Muscle Effectively?

When did you do your first push-up?

For me, it was way back when I was about 7 or 8 years old. It was in P.E. class, and I was shocked at how challenging it was.

Yes, even with my small, sub 100 lb frame, I was unable to do a single rep!

My noodle arms wobbled all over the place for a good 5-10 seconds before I eventually collapsed in defeat.

It was embarrassing…

Thankfully, like any exercise, after practicing it become a whole lot easier – to the point where I could bang out sets of push-ups with relative ease.

Does any of this sound familiar?

When you think about it, pretty much everyone has at least tried doing a push-up at one point in their life.

They are probably the most common strength training exercise. Bar none. More than pull-ups – or even sit-ups/crunches.

And even with more sophisticated workout methods available, some guys still swear by the classic, old school push-up for building strength and muscle.

However, you still have to ask yourself, do push-ups actually build muscle effectively?

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To better answer this question, I’m going to be taking a good look at the humble push-up, so that you can decide whether they should be part of your workout routine.

What Muscles Do Push-Ups Work?

The basic push-up is generally thought to be a chest exercise – kind of like a body weight version of the bench press.

However, the truth is that the push-up is more of a full upper body exercise, since it trains not only the chest, but the triceps and shoulders as well.

In addition, you are also using your abs to stabilize your body while doing push-ups, which means that it’s working your core as well.

Here is a diagram that shows you the specific muscle groups that push-ups target:

This is why it’s said that you can train your upper body effectively with just push-ups and pull-ups – since between those 2 exercises you are hitting pretty much all of your muscles from the waist up.

The Limits Of The Conventional Push-Up

OK, so now that we’ve established that push-ups are a pretty comprehensive upper body exercise – working the chest, triceps, shoulders, abs (to some extent) – let’s look at how effective they are for actually building real muscle.

Unfortunately, this is where pull-ups often fall short.

You see, the biggest problem with push-ups is that it is difficult to make them more challenging by increasing the resistence, as you would for a weight-based exercise.

They are not unique in this respect – after all, this is something that all body weight exercises suffer from – but it is still a big mark against them.

As you likely know from reading my other articles, the most effective way to develop strength and build muscle is by gradually increasing the amount of resistance – a process known as progressive overload.

With push-ups, this is tough to do, but certainly not impossible…

How To Make Push-ups More Challenging

Getting back to the previous point, conventional push-ups are an effective strength and muscle builder up to a point.

And that point is where they become too easy for you to do!

When you hit this point, they are no longer challenging, and therefore not terribly effective at advancing your progress.

Of course, when this point comes depends a lot on your specific body weight.

If you weigh 300 lb push-ups will likely remain challenging for longer than if you weigh 150 lbs.

But still, the point remains that in order to make push-ups a truly effective muscle builder, you need to find ways to make them progressively more challenging.

Let’s go over the options.

Option #1: Increasing Repetitions

This is the easiest, and most common, way of making push-ups more difficult.

If you can do 10 push-ups with relative ease, then go for 15 next time.

If you can hit 20, aim for 30.

However, this method has its limits…

At a certain point, fairly early on, it is not as effective to simply increase the number of repetitions that you’re doing.

Yes, it is better than nothing – but not as good as fundamentally making each rep more challenging.

So let’s move on to the next point.

Option #2: Add Variations

When increasing repetitions no longer cuts it, one of the next things to look at is making the exercise itself more challenging.

You see, just as doing push-ups on your knees is an easier version of a regular push-up, there are several more challenging variations of the standard push-up.

By incorporating these more challenging push-up variations as you get stronger, you’ll be able to ensure that you continue building muscle month after month.

Option #3: Add Weight

Finally, there is the option of doing your push-ups with additional weight.

Just as with most weight training exercises, the goal would be to increase the amount of weight gradually, so that you force your muscles to grow and develop.

But how do you do this with a body weight exercise?

Simple – you invest in something known as a ‘weight vest’.

These are pretty much what they sound like: a vest you wear while doing push-ups that you can gradually add weight to.

The advantage of this approach, compared to just putting something heavy on your back, is that it is well-suited to steady, incremental adjustments in weight.

For instance, once you can do 12 push-ups with a certain weight, you can add 5-10 pounds to your vest to make it more challenging.

Most weight vests accommodate around 40 lbs of additional weight, but I’d recommend this one from ZFOsports.

You can add up to 60 lbs of additional weight, which should keep you going for awhile.

The Verdict

In the end, while conventional, unweighted push-ups undoubtedly have their limits, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t a variety of ways to make them more challenging and effective.

By increasing reps, experimenting with different variations, and incorporating a weight vest, you can make push-ups an effective muscle builder for years to come.

And remember, the methods I mentioned above can be combined.

For example, you can experiment with different variations AND add weight.

So get creative with it, keep pushing yourself, but don’t settle for just doing endless sets of regular, body weight push-ups.

That just isn’t going to cut it if you’re looking to build a big, powerful chest.

Are push-ups part of your workout routine? Have you found them effective for building muscle? Let us know in the comments below!

Push UPS for triceps

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