There’s no denying that push-ups instantly make your arms feel like they’re going to fall off no matter your fitness level. They’re on my list of “exercises I love to hate” even though push-ups are a great upper-body strengthening exercise. There are so many different variations you can do like clapping push-ups and one-arm medicine ball push-ups — no matter which one you choose, the muscles in your arms are going to be quivering after a few reps!

One variation that challenges me is the close-grip and wide-grip push-up combo. I like it because you’re able to work your triceps, chest, and front of your shoulders at once. If you’re looking to add some intensity to your workouts, I highly recommend this exercise.

How to Do a Close-Grip and Wide-Grip Push-Up

  • Come into a plank position with your wrists underneath your shoulders and your fingertips pointing forward. Be sure to keep your neck and back in a neutral position — you don’t want your spine to round or arch. Be sure to engage your core to help you maintain proper form.
  • To perform the close-grip push-up, move your hands in about two inches and tuck your elbows close to your ribs as you lower down to the ground. Your spine should still be in a neutral position, and your core should be engaged.
  • Push your hands through the ground to straighten your arms and return to the starting position.
  • From here, move your hands about two inches outside of your shoulders and let your elbows go wide as you lower down into a push-up, keeping your neck and spine in a neutral position.
  • Push your hands through the ground to straighten your arms and return to the starting position.
  • This counts as one rep. Beginners should complete two sets of five reps. If you’re more advanced, complete two sets of 10 reps.
  • To modify this move, feel free to perform the push-up on your knees as you work on developing your strength.

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Tamara Pridgett

(Last Updated On: April 9, 2019)

Push-ups? What fitness routine would be complete without this bodyweight exercise? Most resistance-training routines include some form of a push-up. No wonder! Push-ups are a move that works multiple muscle groups while building muscle strength and endurance. Yet, pushing up your own bodyweight is challenging, especially when you first start out. The military even doles push-ups out as a form of punishment! On television, you’ve probably heard a movie sergeant order a young recruit to hit the ground and do 50. However, push-ups aren’t just a single exercise. There are various ways you can modify this exercise to make it easier, harder, or to target different muscles more. One way is to change the grip and where you place your hands on the floor.

Beginning Push-Ups

When you first began doing push-ups, you probably used a standard push-up grip. A standard grip is where your hands are slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. You might have even started doing push-ups on your knees rather than your toes to make the move less challenging. Doing this modified form of push-ups reduces the weight your body has to work against by 30%. Once you mastered a standard push-up and progressed from doing them on your knees to doing them on your toes, you might wonder how to modify this move to target a particular muscle group more intensely. One way is to change your grip, the distance between your hands. You have two options, of course, you can move them closer together or further apart. Let’s look at the benefits of each.

The Narrow-Grip Push-up

Moving your hands closer together turns a standard push-up into a narrow-grip one. To do this variation, assume a push-up position, but place your hands closer than shoulder-width apart. Then, lower your body to the floor until your chest almost touches and come back up. Congratulations! You’ve completed a narrow-grip push-up.

What are the benefits of this approach? Narrow-grip push-ups hit your inner pecs and triceps a little harder. In fact, a study found that using a close grip increases activation of the triceps by 15%. For most people, the narrow-grip push-up is a bit harder than using a wider grip. If it’s too challenging at first, place your hands on a low platform like a step until you build up a bit more strength and stamina.

Another benefit of using a narrow grip is this hand position places less stress on your shoulders. If you have a history of shoulder discomfort or rotator cuff problems, this might be an approach that’s safer for you. This variation also places less pressure on your wrists.

The Wide-Grip Push-Up

Now that you’ve done a set of push-ups with a narrow grip, let’s switch to a wide grip. As you might expect, you have to widen your hand position. To do a wide push-up, place your hands about 150% of shoulder width. A wide grip is a bit easier than a narrow grip but places more strain your shoulders. Keep this in mind if you have a history of shoulder problems.

What are the benefits of widening your grip? When you place your hands wider than shoulder width, it activates your pectoral muscles more, and the further apart you place them, the more pec activation you get. If you don’t want pec development, don’t do this variation too frequently. As with all push-ups and push-up variations, keep your body in a straight line when you do the exercise and get as close to the floor as you can. No cheating!

A wide grip targets the pectoral muscles more but that’s not the only thing it targets. A study also showed that wide grips boost activation of the biceps muscles by 20% relative to a standard push-up. So, if you want to work your biceps more, focus more on wide-grip push-ups. If your triceps need work, narrow-grip push-ups will help you best achieve your goals. For balance, it’s smart to do both.

Are Push-Up Handles Beneficial?

You may have seen or used push-up handles that you hold on to instead of placing your hands on the floor. Push-up handles elevate your hands so you’re starting from a higher position. This increases the range-of-motion, which challenges your muscles more. With handles, your forearms have to work harder to lower your body and bring it back up as the path from top to bottom is longer. However, using push-up handles can also cause your form to break down. The larger path your body has to travel also places more strain on your shoulders.

The biggest benefit of handles is they take some of the strain off of your wrists by keeping them in a neutral position. Your wrists are forced to hyper-extend when you place your hands on the floor, which isn’t desirable. You can prevent this by using push-up handles. If you have small or weak wrists, a pair might be a good investment. But, make sure you use the same form with the handles as you would if you kept both hands on the floor.

The Bottom Line

Push-ups are close to being a total body workout in one move and you can do them anywhere. All you need is a floor and a little motivation. But, don’t get into a push-up rut. Switch the hand grip you use to emphasize different muscles and to challenge your body differently. Both wide-grip and narrow-grip push-ups have benefits and switch the focus to different muscles. Take advantage of that by doing both. Keep in mind, changing the hand grip is only one way to vary a push-up. There are lots of other ways to kick up the challenge with other push-up variations and modifications. Whatever you do, make sure this awesome exercise is part of your fitness routine. “Push-Up Grip Guide: How Different Hand Positions Change the Exercise”

International Journal of Exercise Science 6(4) : 278-288, 2013.

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Yes, Wide-Grip Push-Ups Are Very Different from Regular Push-Ups

When a trainer says “drop and give me 20,” how often do you notice where you place your hands? There’s a solid chance you were actually doing a wide-grip push-up when you meant to do a standard push-up. While that’s not necessarily a bad thing, wide-grip push-ups work your upper body differently than a regular push-up or a triceps (narrow-grip) push-up. Master all three, and you’ll hit every inch of your upper body, not to mention build a strong core, too.

Wide-Grip Push-Up Benefits and Variations

“This is a challenging push-up variation because your chest and biceps muscles are in a more lengthened state,” says Rachel Mariotti, the NYC-based trainer demoing the move above. “When they’re lengthened, it’s harder to produce as much force.”

Wide-grip push-ups also take some of the heat off your triceps; a 2016 study published in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science found that wide-grip push-ups recruited the chest and triceps muscles less than a standard or narrow-grip push-up. Instead, they recruit the biceps, serratus anterior (muscles along the sides of your ribs), and latissimus dorsi (back muscles that stretch from your armpit to your spine) to perform the move.

Just like regular push-ups, you can pop down onto your knees to build up strength before attempting the full range of motion. (No shame-form comes first.) Just remember to keep your core engaged and form a straight line from knees to shoulders if you opt for that modification. You can also place your hands on an elevated surface (like a bench, box, or step) to decrease the amount of weight in your upper body.

Ready to progress past a full wide-grip push-up? Try them with your hands or feet suspended in a TRX, or with your feet on an elevated surface. (Here, even more push-up variations to try.)

How to Do a Wide-Grip Push-Up

A. Start in high plank position with feet together and hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, fingers pointing forward or slightly outward. Engage quads and core as if holding a plank.

B. Bend elbows out to the sides to lower torso toward the floor, pausing when chest is just below elbow height.

C. Exhale and press into palms to push body away from the floor to return to starting position, moving hips and shoulders at the same time.

Do 8 to 15 reps. Try 3 sets.

Wide-Grip Push-Up Form Tips

  • Don’t allow hips or low back to sag toward the floor.
  • Keep neck neutral and gaze slightly forward on the ground; don’t tuck chin or lift head.
  • Don’t allow upper back to “cave in.” When in high plank, isometrically push chest away from the floor and then push up from that position.
  • By Lauren Mazzo @lauren_mazzo

The pushup is an effective way to hit your entire upper body. But if you really want to make your pecs pop, change up your hand positions.

During a standard pushup—when your hands are directly beneath your shoulders—your triceps take part of the load, says BJ Gaddour, C.S.C.S., co-creator of the Men’s Health Body Battle—this cutting-edge DVD lets you go head-to-head with Gaddour in a fast and furious fitness face off.

However, more of your weight is transferred to your pectoral muscles when you place your hands wider than your shoulders. And the farther out your hands, the greater the challenge on your pecs.

Gaddour uses this pushup variation to prime his chest muscles before the bench press. It can be tough on the small muscles in your shoulders, though, so begin with 5 to 8 reps of the regular pushup to warm up.

Then, walk out your hands a few inches to your sides. Do 5 to 8 more reps.

Finally, move your hands to the widest position possible that still allows you to maintain perfect pushup form. Your body must maintain a straight line from head to heels. Do 5 to 8 reps.

Watch the video above to learn how to perform the wide-grip pushup with perfect form.

Wide Grip Push-Ups

This page provide details on Wide Grip Push-Ups or Wide Push-Ups. These push-ups are used in order to put greater emphasis on a person’s chest muscles (versus a traditional push-up). This advanced strength training exercise is used by martial artists in order to improve their punching and grappling power.

All stretches and exercises should be supervised by a trained martial arts instructor in order to prevent injuries and to ensure the proper technique is utilized. For additional exercises and push-up techniques (i.e. Clapping Push-Ups), please visit the main Strength Training section.

Instructions for Wide Grip Push-Ups

  • In a traditional push-up, your hands are a shoulder width apart. With a wide grip push-up, you should place your hands farther apart.
  • Be careful not to extend your arms too wide as you can put too much pressure on your shoulders.
  • Get into a prone push-up position with your body straight and your hands on the ground more than a shoulder width apart.
  • Lower yourself until your chest almost hits the ground.
  • Push yourself back up to your starting position.
  • Repeat.

Instructional Video for Wide Grip Push-Ups

Are wide pushups bad for you?

If you’ve ever gotten bored of doing regular pushups, you may have started thinking about doing wide pushups (AKA wide grip pushups) to hit more of your chest muscles. Whenever someone starts experimenting with wide pushups, there’s a high risk of two things:

  1. you feel shoulder pain
  2. you don’t feel shoulder pain but someone tells you that you should stop doing wide pushups because you’ll end up with shoulder pain.

So then you ask yourself: are wide pushups bad for you? Is it worth doing wide pushups?

In this post, we’re going to highlight the major mistake that makes wide pushups painful for people’s shoulders, and we’re going to show you how to fix it.

If you want a video run-down of the material, check it out here:

Wide pushups are not bad for you.

Yes, you may feel discomfort. Maybe you do get pain from them. But just because you feel discomfort doesn’t mean wide grip pushups are bad for you. Wide grip push-ups can actually be GOOD for you IF AND ONLY IF you do them correctly.

If you lift a box up in the wrong way, it can be bad for you. But that doesn’t mean lifting boxes is inherently bad for you. Lifting boxes badly is bad for you. Lifting boxes properly is totally fine (and probably good for you!).

That means you have to learn how to do wide pushups properly.

What’s the secret? You have to LEARN how to control your shoulder blades so they can help your shoulder move effectively and painlessly. Just as squats CAN be great for the knees if your body is ready to do them, wide grip push-ups CAN be great for your shoulders too — IF your body is ready to do them.

How do you do wide grip pushups safely?

It’s all about scapular control. When your arms move out to the side or overhead, your shoulder blades have to move a certain way as well to allow your shoulder bones, tendons, and ligaments not to impinge upon each other.

This scapular movement is called “upward rotation.”

These shoulders are pulled back and down (downward rotation). Notice how the elbows naturally get sucked in toward the ribs.

And this is where the cue “back and down” has messed up A LOT of people. Many people have been trained to think about pulling their shoulder blades “back and down” all the time to create “good posture.” It’s a useful cue for a lot of situations, but for the wide pushup, it’s a TERRIBLE cue.

By unnecessarily attempting to keep your shoulder blades “back and down” as you flare your elbows out to the side, you’re interfering with your body’s ability to produce scapular upward rotation. If you don’t get upward rotation of the scapula, you can’t safely flare your elbows out.

And that’s the simple secret to safely being able to do wide grip push-ups or any other movement with your arms out at your sides. You just need to be able to achieve scapular upward rotation and not use inappropriate cues for movement (you can see this more clearly in the video above).

What cues can you use for better upward rotation?

As with all cues, it’s important to remember that there’s no such thing as a perfect cue. Cues are just ways to think about a motion to get your body to do it a certain way. With that said, we like the cue “wide shoulders” for people while doing the wide pushups. This helps people envision their shoulder blades spreading apart, maintaining space for the humerus to move in the socket without impingement.

Closing words on wide pushups

These shoulder blades are now in upward rotation, allowing the elbows to flare out wide and away from the body!

There’s a strong tendency in the world of exercise and musculoskeletal health to label some exercises as just “bad.” Some exercises can definitely cause people pain and discomfort. The trick is recognizing that pain doesn’t mean an exercise itself is bad. Many times it simply means that the form is bad.

And what causes bad form? The person doing the exercise doesn’t have the requisite strength or coordination yet. With wide pushups, you must pay attention to proper form and make sure you gradually improve your strength, coordination, and endurance to be able to do more and more wide pushups SAFELY and without shoulder pain!

Perpetuated by P.E. coaches, bootcamp instructors, personal trainers, and semi-fit college roommates…

the push-up is a key culprit that’s destroying shoulders.

Which is unfortunate because the exercise is awesome! It targets the arms, chest, back, and core, all with zero equipment needed. No one should ever head to the beach without a few sets.

But the problem with the push-up is that it gets no respect! Form is too often neglected for the sake of more reps. Or it’s assumed that basic bodyweight exercises are a god-given right—and don’t need modifications or any amount of prerequisite strength.

But this mindset hinders results and sets the shoulder up for injury.

It’s time to “Make push-ups great again.”

Start Position

Every push-up article ever written will say the head, back, hips, and heels should align— don’t lift or sag the hips.

This is very true, but “core strength” is not always the problem. While the core muscles do support the back alignment… Shoulder stability is more often a bigger part of the problem!

Because even the strongest table top, needs sturdy legs to support it, or else it is still a junky table.

To create shoulder stability protract the scapula! This means driving the shoulder blades around the sides of your body.

Notice the saggy low back in this demo. Every coach and trainer in the world would scream about tightening the core. But the root of the issue is poor protraction:

Here the protracted scapula cleans up the alignment:

Try this out yourself by holding a plank on the hands and toes. Squeeze the shoulder blades back and together and notice what happens to the back. Now protract the shoulders and notice the immediate strength improvement.

Shoulder Position

It’s key to performance and shoulder health that the elbows stay tucked during the move. Fortunately, there is no shortage of stock photography of fitness models demoing this push up problem…

You can see from the photo above the elbows moving away from the body—this is bad!

First, think about giving someone a push like this, it’s assured that the opponent is not falling over.

But regardless of the ability to produce force, it puts the shoulder into impingement. This means the space in the shoulder narrows and compresses tissue. Add in a workouts worth of repetition and it’s a recipe for shoulder pain, and over the course of thousands of workouts it’s rotator cuff disaster.

The below picture is optimal. Not flaring up, but not too close to the body either (this would limit the involvement of the bigger chest muscles).

(This is how far your arms should be from your body when performing push-ups.)

Vertical Forearm

I will share a strength secret… press with vertical forearms.

That goes for bench press, shoulder press, and all variations between; with dumbbells, barbells, or any other weight.

Keep the weight stacked over the elbow, this optimizes mechanics for a stronger press.

This is the same for push-ups. Putting the hands too narrow or too wide, will impact strength and proper mechanics. So find a hand position in which the forearm stays almost completely vertical to the floor.


A perfect push-up should touch the chest to the floor. A half rep push-up not only limits training results, but it’s not great for shoulder health either.

Bad shoulder position or hand position (discussed above), is one reason for partial reps. For example, imagine the shoulder contortion needed to go any lower in the push-up pictured below?

Otherwise, strength is the primary factor limiting the depth of push-ups.

I understand that everyone has to start somewhere! But doing only half reps never progresses to full reps (which we will have a solution for shortly).

And partial rep are also hard on the shoulders!

First of all, stopping the body halfway down, and then reversing direction causes a lot of shoulder strain. Think of the force needed to stop a rolling car and then push it the other direction.

By doing a full rep push-up there is a barrier to help stop your forward momentum. And then reorganize to push the other way. I’m not saying it’s an easier rep, but there is less stress on the supporting tendons.

There is also no strength limiter on one’s ability to bang out partial rep push-ups. Check out Michelle Obama and Ellen bang out some partial rep push-ups…

If the only push-up rule is bend the elbows, both Michelle and Ellen would continue to rep out their “push-ups” by shortening their range of motion.

Therein lies the problem…

By “cheating” movements, it’s easy to add a ton of volume on top of already weak mechanics. Thus the motivation to do more reps, rather than better reps, is usually what results in pain and injury.

Better Push-Up Plan

Here is a plan to build better push-ups. This means doing better push-ups, even if that starts with 1 rep and using modifications.

1. Start by working on the plank position. On the hands and toes, shoulders protracted, with the glutes, core, and shoulders tight.

2. The next step is a modified push-up. There are 2 ways to do this:

Elevating the torso decreases the strength required to complete the rep. As strength progresses, lower the angle for more difficulty.

Or without an incline, press up from the knees. But then lift to a full plank (on toes) and lower on the hands and toes.

3. Now it’s time for the real deal. Lower the chest all the way to the deck. Take a second, brace the abs, tighten the hips, and then drive the floor away to the perfect plank that started the movement

4. Once you’ve got full push-ups, start building them with time rather than reps. A conversion of 2 seconds for every 1 rep is reasonable.

Example: A workout class or program has 25 reps prescribed (but you’ve only got 5 good full depth reps). Rather than doing 25 half reps, convert the reps to 50 seconds, and work for that long. Rest as needed between reps to make each one good. As strength progresses, more reps will get done in the time you’ve got.

Following these guidelines, will save your shoulders from crappy push-ups, and do much more to make you strong.

6 Push-Up Variations to Build Strength and Improve Shoulder Health


Push-Ups are a staple for building upper-body strength. They target the chest, shoulders, and triceps, engage the core and require no equipment or spotters. Yet, as effective as they are for building strength, Push-Ups are also among the best exercises for shoulder stability and health.

Push-Ups are good for the shoulders because, unlike in the Bench Press, the Push-Up allows your shoulder blades to move freely, strengthening the serratus anterior, a vital muscle that keeps your scapula stable and helps it rotate upward. A strong serratus anterior reduces shoulder impingement when you press overhead. Since the shoulder blade makes up half of your shoulder joint, improving its stability can fix a lot of other shoulder problems.

The following six Push-Up variations offer the best bang for your training buck: they build a strong upper body, promote high levels of activation in the serratus anterior, and develop stability in the shoulders. Try them out to accomplish these goals. Except for the scapula Push-Ups, you can wear a weight vest to make each variation more difficult.

Shoulder-Building Push-Up Variations

1. Scapula Push-Ups

This variation has the highest activation of the serratus anterior. It’s best used as a warm-up drill.

  • Get into push-up position
  • Keep your elbows straight and sink your shoulder blades a few inches
  • Push your shoulder blades as high as possible
  • That’s one repetition

2. Single-Leg Push-Ups

Research suggests that Push-Up variations that add more load on the upper body increase recruitment of important shoulder stabilizers. An easy way to do that is to lift one leg off the ground. During a normal Push-Up, you have four points of contact, two hands and two feet. By taking away one point of contact, you increase the upper-body load and core activation.

  • Get into push-up position and lift one leg
  • Keep your leg up for the entire set

3. T-Push-Ups

By adding a rotational component, T-Push-Ups strengthen shoulder musculature by constantly changing points of contact on the ground. They also improves shoulder health by stretching the thoracic spine (mid-back).

  • Perform a Push-Up
  • Take one hand off the ground and reach arm up and around
  • Keep your eyes on your moving hand
  • Return to push-up position
  • That’s one repetition; do an equal number of reps on each side

4. Feet-Elevated Push-Ups

This variation has two fantastic benefits. First, it’s harder than a normal Push-Up, which helps you pack on more muscle in the chest, shoulders, and triceps. Second, research shows that feet-elevated Push-Ups promote more activation in the serratus anterior than regular Push-Ups. Strong, healthy serratus anterior muscles are crucial for shoulder health.

Also, some athletes who experience shoulder pain during pushing motions like the Bench Press can do feet-elevated Push-Ups pain-free.

  • Perform a Push-Up with your feet on a stable, elevated surface
  • Start with a short box; as you get stronger, gradually increase box height
  • Want to make it harder? Do single-leg, feet-elevated Push-Ups.

5. Single-Arm Push-Ups

In addition to increasing upper-body load and strengthening your shoulder stabilizers, single-arm Push-Ups look awesome. Can’t do them from the floor? Try them from a bar in a Smith machine or power rack. As you get stronger, gradually lower the height of the bar.

  • Keep your feet wide
  • As you descend into the Push-Up, keep your elbow close to your body

6. Single-arm Medicine Ball Push-ups

By putting one hand on a medicine ball, you fire up your shoulder stabilizers by adding instability.

  • Perform Push-Ups with one hand on a medicine ball
  • Do an equal number of reps on each side.

Photo Credit:

Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock

Blog Post

When you hear the word, “pushup”, do you automatically think of the conventional pushup form that everyone does? While the traditional version is really beneficial, there are actually so many different kinds of pushups that you can do that work out various parts of your body. So why not giving these other versions a try and see how they fit into your fitness routine and goal progress?

Different Kinds of Pushups That Focus on Different Muscles

1. Traditional Pushup

The traditional pushup is the one that probably first comes to mind. It begins with your hands beneath your shoulders or slightly wider. Your core should be tight. Your back should be straight and depending on your level, you can be up on your toes or on your knees. If you cannot do a pushup on your toes, then start with your knees on the ground until you progress.

Slowly lower yourself to the ground. A common mistake that people make is either letting your lower body sag to the ground, so your hips touch the floor first, or arching too high so make sure that your back is flat the entire time. Keep your elbows in close to your body and tucked in. Don’t let them stick out to the sides.

Then exhale and push yourself back to the starting position. And there you have it, a traditional pushup.

The traditional pushup works your entire body simultaneously – from your arms, abs and lower body. It trains these muscles to work together, while also building better balance and stability.

2. Wide Grip Pushup

If you want to engage your chest and front shoulders more, then try the wide grip. It is the same as a traditional pushup but your hands further apart. This means that your elbows will bend more when you are lowering yourself to the ground.

When it comes to pushup variations, the wider apart your hands are, the more you will work your chest. This means that a wide grip pushup will place more emphasis on your pectoral strength than the traditional one.

3. Diamond Pushup

The diamond or close grip pushup is another version that you can try. While your body is the same as in the conventional pushup, your hands are closer together, narrower than shoulder width. Position your hands together so your two indexes and thumbs are touching. The space in between your two hands should form a triangle shape.

Some people may find that the diamond pushup is harder to execute than with other different kinds of pushups. It is also easy to allow your elbows to flare out to the side while lowering yourself to the ground. It is easy with a close grip pushup to allow your elbows to flare out. To keep to true form, make sure they remain tucked close to your sides.

4. Staggered Pushup

One of the different kinds of pushups you can include in your training is the staggered pushup. This involves positioning yourself into the traditional pushup position. The variable that changes are your hands. One hand should be situated higher than the other, which should still remain in line with your shoulder.

Execute a pushup in this position. The hand/arm that is lower will be forced to work more as it basically takes the brunt of the work. Then after you have finished your set/reps with one side, swap and repeat. This pushup variation helps those who want to improve strength on each side individually.

5. Clap Pushup

There are different kinds of pushups that are dynamic and use explosive power. One of these is the clap pushup.

In this version, your starting point mimics that traditional pushup. After you lower yourself to the ground, this is when the clap pushup begins. As you come up, you really need to propel yourself off the ground so that you have enough time and space to clap your hands together before landing in the starting position again, ready for the next rep.

With the plyometric pushup, you need to land with your elbows slightly bent to absorb the impact of the landing. Just think of it as the same way you would land with your knees slightly bent if you were jumping on your feet.

As you land, you should lower yourself into your next rep and repeat. Use the momentum from landing with your elbows bent, and spring yourself back up again.

This pushup really emphasizes explosive power and plyometrics.

If you are new to the clapping pushup, then start by getting used to exploding into the air without the clap. As you get used to this dynamic movement, then include the clap.

Alternatively, you can also start the clapping pushup on your knees before progressing to your toes.

6. Superman Pushup

Different kinds of pushups that also use explosive power is the superman. The superman takes the clapping pushup to a whole new level. Instead of just your torso coming off the ground, your entire body leaves the floor.

As you push yourself off the ground, your hands, torso and feet should be in the air. Your arms go above your head in front of you so you are doing the superman post mid-air before safely catching yourself and getting into your next rep.

These explosive pushups – the clap and superman – target your fast twitch muscles in your chest. By using these muscles fibres, you really maximize growth and power. These pushups are also really beneficial for athletes, such as basketballers who always throw chest passes.

However, it is recommended that you build a solid pushup foundation with the traditional or other different kinds of pushups first before attempting them.

The pushup is a staple in most gym goers workout, and for good reason. It only requires bodyweight and can easily be modified. As you can see with this list of different kinds of pushups too, you can also make it more challenging depending on what muscle group/s you want to focus on by slight shifts in arm positioning or even by adding dynamic movements.

Jefit is a workout log app that has an extensive library. With the ability to mix and match your training, including different kinds of pushups, you can really maximize your gym workouts and make the most of them.

Have you tried any of these different kinds of pushups? Which ones do you like? Let us know in the comments, we would love to know!

Pushups: Way more than chest training

Have you ever wondered what exact muscles are worked during a well-executed pushup? It’s definitely not just your chest and triceps doing all the work. Pushups require the help of many important, and potentially unexpected muscles. Read on and find out what a pushup anatomically looks like, and why Freeletics pushups are slightly different.

What are pushups?

The term ‘pushup’ stems from the simple description of the movement being performed: the act of pushing yourself up from the ground. So how exactly is it done? In the starting position, lie on your chest and stomach, with your arms bent and palms flat on the floor alongside the chest – your elbows should be facing backwards. Then, lift your whole body by “pushing away the ground” until your arms are completely extended. In a controlled movement, lower your body back down until your chest touches the floor again. Throughout the movement, your shoulders, hips, and heels should form a straight line – as if you‘re holding a plank.

The anatomy of the pushup

Which muscles are involved when performing a pushup? First of all, let‘s take a look at the major shoulder girdle muscles: the pectoralis major muscle (large chest muscle) is the most – let’s say – obvious muscle that is worked throughout the movement of a pushup. The main function of the pectoralis major is the adduction of the arm back to the torso – which basically means moving your arm back towards your chest, keeping it close to the body. Although this is the main one, there are many more muscles within the shoulder girdle that work together to perform a pushup. So, what muscles do push ups work. See the muscles here:

  1. pectoralis minor muscle (small chest muscle)
  2. serratus anterior muscle
  3. deltoideus muscle (shoulder muscle)

Besides these, the so-called antigravity muscles (red muscles) in the shoulder girdle are also involved to keep the shoulder, as well as the shoulder blade, in the right position. This is important, as it guarantees a good power transmission. Power transmission means that the force you create from hands, to arms, up to your chest and torso will be transferred efficiently. In case of bad shoulder positioning, there will be a lack of transfer of the created force.

When looking at the upper extremities, the triceps brachii muscle (triceps) is the second most obvious muscle worked when performing a pushup. It consists of three different heads that are responsible for the extension of the elbow joint when straightening the arm.

And we continue, with the core and lower extremities. Within the core, we have the erector spinae muscle (back muscles attached to the spine), the rectus abdominis muscle (also known as sixpack), the obliquus externus abdominis (obliques) as well as the interior abdominal muscles obliquus internus abdominis muscle and transversus abdominis muscle, which holds the spine in a stable and neutral position during a pushup. In addition to these muscles, the glutaeus maximus muscle (gluteus) is responsible for holding the hips in place, and stops them from falling forwards. An engaged gluteus also prevents the spine from dropping to create a hollow back.

Pushups in Freeletics

At Freeletics, we’re all about technique and movement quality. When performing a pushup, your elbows should always face backwards and stay close to your body. Why? Because this puts your shoulders in a stable, natural and healthy position, therefore lowering the chances of an injury occurring. If your arms are spread out to the side, this puts a huge pressure on the tissue structure as well as the ligaments and shoulder joint. But aren’t these kind of pushups harder? While this may be true, safety should always come first. Overtime the more you practice, the more strength you will build and the easier pushups will become. So remember: always keep your elbows close to your body.

Another Freeletics fact: Ever wondered why we want your chest to touch the ground with every repetition? The reason for this is that it’s easier to make every repetition count since everyone will have the same range of motion.

Let’s recap

Yes, pushups primarily work the large chest muscles as well as the triceps. But, keep in mind that there are many more muscles involved, making the pushup a great total body exercise.

Wide grip push up

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