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13 Best Push Up Variations to Try in 2020

If you’re looking for push up variations to switch up your workout routine, you’re in the right place!

Below are all of the best press up variations to work your upper body, from the classic bodyweight push up to some more advanced variations that any push up pro needs to try.

For every exercise, we’ve included a full guide to how to perform it, complete with video tutorials, common mistakes to avoid, and information about the muscles worked during the movement.

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13 Best Press Up Variations

Looking to switch up your workouts? From easy push up variations to more advanced options, we’ve got it covered.

Try out some of these variations and we can guarantee that you will make serious gains in your upper body.

#1 Push-Up

Set Up: Obviously we couldn’t talk about the different press up variations without including this classic! For this original variation, you won’t need any equipment, just plenty of space and an exercise mat.

Starting Position:

  • Start on the ground in a plank position.
  • Set your hands at slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
  • Engage your core and lower your hips so that your body is a straight line from your head to your heels.

Execution:

  • Begin with your arms straight, glutes clenched, and core muscles braced. 
  • Steadily lower yourself down, bending at your elbows until they are at a 90-degree angle or less.
  • Once your chest is almost touching the floor, hold this position momentarily.
  • Then, exhale as you push your body back up until you’re in the starting position.

Muscles Worked

Prime Mover: Pectoralis major

Secondary Muscles: Triceps, deltoids

Common Mistakes To Look Out For

Feet Positioning 

One mistake that a lot of people make with this exercise is having a poor foot position.

If you want to make this exercise as easy as possible and avoid an unwanted injury, make sure that your feet are set up comfortably so that you can balance. 

Placing your feet too close together is a really common mistake that can cause you to lose your balance and even become injured, plus it makes the exercise more difficult than it needs to be without adding to it’s benefits!

Losing Your Form

Probably the most common mistake made when performing any of the push up variations on this list, is people losing their form, usually by pushing their glutes back too high or letting their hips fall forward.

Whichever way you make this mistake, if your body doesn’t form a straight line from your shoulders to your heels, then you’re not getting the exercise quite right.

The best way to avoid this is to engage your core muscles and clench your glutes throughout the entire duration of the exercise, paying attention to your form and not just going through the motions of the exercise.

Bodyweight Push Up Benefits

Builds Upper Body Strength

As with all of the different press up variations in this list, this exercise is really beneficial for working your upper body strength in particular. And because this specific variation is so straightforward to execute, it's a really easy and effective exercise for improving your overall strength.

Push ups are great for working the triceps, pectoral muscles (chest), and your shoulders, too. 

When done correctly, they can also help strengthen the lower back and work your core because the abdominal muscles are really engaged when you brace them for each push.

Improved Cardio Fitness

Whilst the most significant benefits of push up variations are for chest development and strength building in general, push ups also help control you to a good cardiovascular system.

This is because as you perform the exercise, you are required to engage your chest muscles whilst practising good inhalation and exhalation techniques.

If you have ever tried to pick up the pace during a round of press ups, you’ll know that this exercise has a real element of cardio involved. 

Works Your Full Body With No Equipment

Obviously, the primary muscles worked for these kinds of exercises are for your upper body, but one of the many great things about push ups (and the push up variations just below) is that they also recruit your core and leg muscles, all without any equipment! 

For this reason, push up exercises are a staple in any home workout. Check out how to plan a great home workout routine here!

#2 Push Up & Row

Set Up: For this press up variation, you just need two dumbbells and plenty of space.

Starting Position:

press up variaiton with row starting position image

  • Grab a dumbbell in each hand and position yourself with your chest and stomach flat on the floor. 
  • Get into a plank position and straighten your legs out behind you. 
  • Extend your arms and place your hands shoulder-width apart.

Execution:

  • Start the push up part of the movement by bending at your elbows to lower your body to the floor.
  • Pause briefly at the bottom of the movement and push yourself back up so that you return to the starting position.
  • After you reach the starting position, row the dumbbell up and towards your chest.
  • Pause, and then bring the dumbbell back down. 
  • Repeat this movement with the other arm.
  • That’s one rep done, now repeat the full push up and row movement again!

press up variaiton with row execution image

Muscles Worked

Prime Mover: Triceps, pectoralis major, latissimus dorsi

Secondary Muscles: Trapezius, rectus abdominis, biceps

Common Mistakes To Avoid 

Not Lowering Enough

This is one of the more advanced push up variations, so you need to keep an eye on your form to make sure you’re doing the exercise properly.

One thing to look out for in particular, is to make sure that you are lowering your body enough during the press movement.

Avoid cheating yourself and making the exercise easier by ensuring that your elbows are at a 90° angle or less at the bottom of the movement. 

Failing to lower yourself until your chest is close to the ground can seriously compromise the benefits of this exercise!

Once you've tried this exercise, why not try adding incline hammer curls into your upper body workout, too.

Benefits Of This Push Up Variation

Builds Strength 

If bulking up your upper body is one of your exercise goals, then this is one of the best push up variations to add to your routine. The added row movement means that your posterior muscles (especially the lats, traps, and biceps) get a real workout.

A Push & Pull Exercise 

If you're a regular gym go-er, then you’ve probably heard of push exercises and pull exercises. 

Even though there are a variety of push up exercises on this list, the majority are solely push movements. 

Well, one of the brilliant things about this exercise is that it combines both push and pull. 

Why is this so great? Here’s what Aston University has to say about these kinds of exercises:“This means that you get the maximum overlap of movements within the same workout, and the muscle groups being trained get an overall benefit from this overlap.

#3 Clock Push Up

Set Up: This is another one of the alternative press up variations that requires no equipment. 

You might want to grab an exercise mat for comfort and find somewhere with plenty of space, but that's about it! 

Starting Position:

Clock push up starting position

  • Begin in a plank position with your legs extended behind you.
  • Bring your feet about hip-width apart.
  • Place your hands directly under your shoulders.
  • Ensure your hips are tucked under and your core muscles are engaged.

Execution:

Clock push up execution

  • Bend your arms to slowly lower your body down towards the floor.
  • Lower down until your chest is nearly touching the floor, keeping your body aligned throughout, and your hips tucked, the whole time.
  • Pause at the bottom briefly.
  • Then, push yourself upwards, returning to the start position. 
  • Step your hands over one step to the side and repeat the press up.
  • Continue to this cycle until you have completed one full circle of push ups.

Grip Position: Changing your grip and hand position can take push up variations from the easiest to the hardest. If you want to make your workout more challenging, bring your hands closer together. To make the exercise easier, you can move your hands further apart. 

Tip: If you struggle to complete the full circle and need extra support, you can drop your knees down as you perform the exercise.

Clock Push Up Muscles Worked

Prime Mover: Pectoralis major

Secondary Muscles: Triceps, deltoids, rectus abdominis, and erector spinae

Common Mistakes To Avoid With The Clock Push Up

Losing Your Form

One mistake that we see a lot when people are performing the clock press up is that they lose their form as they move around in the circle. 

This can make the exercise less effective and it can even cause injury - two things that you definitely want to avoid!

With this push up variation especially, you need to consciously think about resetting your starting position before every press up.

Locking Arms 

Another thing to look out for with this exercise is avoiding locking your arms. A lot of people make the mistake of locking their elbows to stabilise themselves as they step their hands over, but this can really damage your joints!

Instead, prevent the risk of injury by keeping your elbows soft and do not lock them out fully.

Clock Push Up Benefits

Hip Stability

One benefit that is unique to the clock press up is its benefits for hip stability and strengthening your hip flexors.

Core Development 

Another great thing about this exercise is that it is one of the best push up exercises for core development.

All of the exercises on this list work your core, but moving and stabilising your body in a clock press up in particular requires even more work from your core.

Whilst this does mean that you’ll really feel the burn during the exercises, the benefits for improved core strength and stability are well worth it.

Why not try out one of the best ab rollers of 2020 to improve your core development and strength even further. 

#4 One Armed Push Up Tutorial

Looking for the hardest push up variations out there? The one armed push up (also known as a single arm press up) is the best bodyweight press up variation for anybody who wants a challenge.

Set Up: You don’t need any equipment for this bodyweight exercise, although an exercise mat may make you more comfortable.

Starting Position:

One Armed Push Up image

  • Begin in a regular push up position, placing your feet about shoulder-width apart. 
  • Place one hand on the mat and the other hand onto your lower back.
  • Ensure your hips are tucked and your core muscles are engaged (this will ensure you are not putting any excess pressure on your lower back muscles).

Execution:

One Armed Push Up tutorial image

  • As you inhale, bend your supporting arm to slowly lower your body down towards the mat. 
  • Lower until your chest is nearly touching the floor, keeping your body aligned, and your hips tucked, so that your body makes a straight line from your shoulders to your heels the whole time. 
  • Pause for a moment.
  • Exhale and straighten your supporting arm to push yourself back up to the start position.
  • Repeat the one armed push up for your desired number of reps before switching arms.

Tip: If you’re struggling to keep your balance, bring your supporting hand closer to the centre of your body. Or, move your feet further apart to make balancing easier.

Feeling brave and wanting to make this exercise more challenging? Bring your feet closer together and feel the burn!

One Armed Push Up Muscles Worked

Prime Mover: Triceps

Secondary Muscles: Pectorals major, deltoids, rectus abdominis

Common Mistakes To Avoid With The Single Arm Press Up

Sinking Hips

This definitely isn't up there with the best push up exercises for beginners, it can be pretty difficult to master which means a lot of people lose their form.

Specifically, we see clients letting their hips sink during this exercise - something which can put unnecessary pressure on the lower back, causing back pain and a potential injury. 

To avoid this, keep your hips tucked the whole time, squeeze your glutes if it helps, and engage your core muscles.

Unsure what we mean by ‘engage your core’? OriGym have explained how to engage your core and why you should do so in this recent blog post!

Incorrect Hand Position

Another thing to look out for with the clock push up is your hand position. This exercise puts a lot of pressure on your hands and wrists, so it's important that you perform this exercise safely. 

To ensure no extra pressure is placed on the wrists from hands being at an unnatural angle, your fingers should be pointing forwards for this exercise. 

If this is uncomfortable on your wrists, an alternative is to form a fist, however, this will make keeping your balance a little more challenging.

Benefits Of The One Armed Push Up 

Builds Upper Body Strength

One of the best things about the single arm press up is that it requires an incredible arm and shoulder strength, and therefore, it's brilliant for increasing muscle mass and body tone in your upper body. 

Because of the nature of the exercise, one side of your body is doing all of the work compared to both of your arms in the standard variation of the exercise.

This means that twice as much arm strength is needed compared to that of a standard press up, but the benefits that this has for building muscle and strength are way beyond that of the regular bodyweight press up.

Unilateral Exercise

Another unique benefit of this variation is that it is one of very few unilateral push up variations.

An issue with other variations is that when you use both arms to perform the movement, you will often find that you have a stronger side of your body which takes on more of the stress of the movement.

This isn’t the case with a single arm push up, as both sides of your body have to work equally as hard to perform the exercise.

Not only does this help to strengthen the weaker side of your body (usually your non-dominant side), it also helps to correct any muscle imbalances.

You might not even be aware that you have a muscle imbalance but over time this can lead to a number of injuries and even postural deviations.

#5 Clapping Push Up

Set Up: You don’t need any equipment for this exercise, although an exercise mat may make you more comfortable.

Starting Position:

clapping push up starting position

  • Begin in a push up position, bringing your feet about hip-width apart and positioning your arms just wider than shoulder-width apart. 
  • Ensure your hips are tucked and that your core is engaged - this will ensure that your body forms a straight line from your heels to your head.

Execution:

clapping press up execution

  • As you inhale, bend your arms to slowly lower your body down towards your mat. Lower yourself until your chest is nearly touching the floor, keeping your body aligned and your hips tucked the whole time.
  • Pause at the bottom of the movement briefly. 
  • Push yourself up in an explosive manner, using your force to lift you high enough from the ground for you to be able to clap your hands together beneath your chest, before quickly returning them back to the start position.

clapping press up image 3

Tip: Bring your feet closer together to make the workout more challenging, or place them further apart to make it easier. 

Clapping Press Up Muscles Worked

Prime Mover: Pectoralis major 

Secondary Muscles: Triceps, deltoids, rectus abdominis, and erector spinae

Common Mistakes To Avoid With The Clapping Push Up

Slow Movement 

One common mistake that is unique to the clapping press up is moving too slow.

In order to push yourself up with enough force and have the time to clap your hands and return safely to the starting position, you need to be fast.

Moving too slow will leave you either unable to complete the clap, or worse, not moving quickly could leave you without enough time to reach your hands out as you land back in the starting position - which could be both embarrassing and dangerous!

Clapping Push Up Benefits

Builds Upper Body Strength

This is something that is true for many different calisthenics push up variations, and the clapping push up is no exception!

This exercise builds incredible arm and shoulder strength, and it's a great way of increasing strength and muscle mass. 

If you’re looking to develop a more toned physique, or you want to add to the amount that you can lift, this is definitely one of the best push up variations for mass to try.

Looking to build serious upper body strength? OriGym have rounded up the best kettlebell exercises for arms right here.

Improved Coordination

One benefit that is unique to this particular press up variation is that its a great way of improving your coordination!

The speed and skill required to execute this move perfectly are a great way to build your coordination, a skill that is transferable to tons of other sports and everyday activities.

#6 Close Hands Push Up

Set Up: There is no equipment required for this exercise, just grab an exercise mat and find yourself plenty of space.

Starting Position:

Close Hands Push Up starting position

  • Begin in a plank position with your legs extended behind you and your arms extended.
  • Position your hands in front of your chest, narrower than shoulder-width apart.
  • Ensure that your fingers are pointing forwards towards the top of the mat.
  • Your body should be in a straight line from your heels all the way to your head.

Execution:

Close Hands Push Up execution

  • From this plank position, bend your arms as you inhale, to lower your body down towards the floor.
  • When your chest nearly touches the floor, pause for a moment.
  • Exhale and push yourself back up to the starting position.
  • Repeat as many times as you like!

Tip: If this is too much to begin with, you can drop your knees to make the exercise slightly easier until you are able to complete a full series like this.

Close Hands Push Up Muscles Worked

Prime Mover: Triceps

Secondary Muscles: Pectoralis major, deltoids, rectus abdominis, glutes, and hip flexors

Common Mistakes To Avoid

Keep Your Elbows Tucked 

With this exercise, it's common for your elbows to come out to the side and away from the body, but this isn’t the right form for a close hand push up.

Instead, you need to keep your elbows tucked right into your body as this will really work your tricep muscles.

Close Hands Push Up Benefits

Increased Tricep & Chest Activation 

If you’re looking for the best push up exercises for chest and tricep activation, then this close hands variation is a brilliant option. 

The narrower hand placement puts this exercise at the top of the tricep push up variations as it force the triceps and the chest to work even harder, meaning that the benefits of this variation are even more significant than a regular press up.

However, this does make this exercise slightly more difficult, and it means that there is a lot more stress on the elbows.

For that reason, this probably isn't one the most appropriate push up variations for men or women who are beginners, or for anybody with joint issues.

Bored of your current job? These are 2020's best career change ideas in the UK according to our experts.

#7 Weighted Push Up

Set Up: To perform a weighted push up, it's best to grab a barbell plate - pick a weight that challenges you but doesn’t make it impossible for you to perform the exercise with proper form. 

Starting Position:

weighted press up starting position image

  • Start in a plank position with your arms extended out in front of you.
  • Position your hands directly underneath your shoulders.
  • Place the barbell plate flat on your lower back, just above your hips.
  • Pull your core tight to keep your body straight.

Execution:

weighted push up execution image

  • Lower yourself down, as with a regular push up.
  • Squeeze your chest, shoulders, and the back of your arms as you come down.
  • Once your chest is just above the floor, pause briefly.      
  • Push yourself back up to the starting position and repeat the exercise.

Weighted Push Up Muscles Worked

Prime Mover: Chest, biceps, and anterior deltoid

Secondary Muscles:  Rectus abdominis, glutes, and serratus anterior

Common Mistakes To Avoid With A Weighted Push Up

Incorrect Weight Positioning 

One mistake that is unique to the weighted push up is poor positioning of the weight on your back.

In order for this exercise to be both safe and effective, you need to place the weight at the very bottom of your back, as this puts the weight at the centre of your body.

Positioning the weight so that it is further up your body, ie higher up your torso or near your shoulders, will make it much more difficult to move your elbow and shoulder joints in a way that allows you to execute this push up variation correctly.

Weighted Push Up: The Benefits

Chest Benefits

Thanks to the added stress of the weight, this is one of the best push up variations for your biceps, shoulders, and chest development.

Adding a weight plate gives you all of the same benefits of a regular press up, and then some!

If you’re looking for a good push up variation to improve your chest gains but you struggle to balance on a medicine ball or you can’t quite hack a one armed push up, being able to control how much weight you add makes this exercise a great alternative.

Want to work on your chest more? Find out how to do these cable chest press exercises with OriGym.

Helps To Maintain Good Form

As you will have already noticed with the many different press up variations above, one of the most common mistakes for this kind of exercise is letting your hips sag so that they are no longer in line with the rest of your body.

This is the wrong form for a push up and there are a number of reasons that this should be avoided.

However, one of the benefits of doing a weighted push up is that placing a barbell plate on your lower backs actually helps to avoid this common mistake.

The position of the weight plate forces you to keep your body in a straight line because if your hips do start to deviate from the correct form, you’ll know about it because the weight will start to slide off you!

#8 How To Do Push Ups With Feet On Exercise Ball 

Set Up: All you’ll need is an exercise ball and plenty of space (for the push up with feet on medicine ball variation, grab a medicine ball instead).

Starting Position: 

  • Start off in a planking position with your feet placed on an exercise ball.
  • If you struggle to get your feet on the ball comfortably, begin laying with your stomach on the ball and walk your hands forward slowly until they are below your shoulders and the ball rests under the bottom of your legs.
  • Extend your arms directly in front of you and place them about shoulder-width apart.
  • Engage your core and squeeze your glute muscles to ensure that your body forms a straight line.

Execution:

  • Inhale as you lower your upper body towards the floor, making sure that you tighten your abdominal muscles to maintain balance and avoid slipping. 
  • Exhale as you straighten your elbows and begin to slowly press your hands into the floor until you return to the starting position. 
  • Keep your back straight and in line with your head as you do this

Push Up with Feet on Exercise Ball Muscles Worked 

Prime Mover: Triceps, chest

Secondary Muscles: Deltoids, biceps, and rectus abdominis

Common Mistakes When Performing This Exercise 

Not Performing The Full Rep

When you perform push ups with your feet on a medicine ball or an exercise ball, balancing your feet means that this exercise is far from easy. Because of this, a lot of people make the mistake of only doing a half rep for the push up movement.

Most people don’t even realise that they are cheating in this way so it's important that consciously make sure that you do lower yourself until your chest is close to the floor, just as you would with any other press up variation.

Losing Form

This is one of those mistakes that comes up with a lot of press up variations, but because of the increased difficulty that comes with balancing your feet on a ball, this mistake is even more prevalent when you perform a push up with your feet on an exercise ball.

For this push up alternative in particular you really need to keep your core muscles engaged throughout the entire duration of the movement.  

Push Ups With Feet On Medicine Ball: The Benefits 

Stability & Stamina

Thanks to the involvement of an exercise/medicine ball, this exercise has all of the benefits of the other press up exercises in this list, and then some!

Not only is this another one of the best push up exercises for biceps, triceps, and your chest, it's a brilliant way of improving your core stability and your stamina.

By balancing your legs on an exercise ball, the stability and stamina of your muscles are really put to the test. 

The need stabilise your body more than usual when balancing on the medicine ball means your core muscles especially are really working, in fact, this exercise will do more for your core than holding a regular plank.

#9 The Medicine Ball Push-up

Next up is another medicine ball press up variation, but this time, you will be placing the ball underneath your hands rather than beneath your feet. Here‘s how to do it!

Setup: All you need for this exercise is a medicine ball and enough space to get into a plank. You may want to use an exercise mat but that’s completely up to you.

Starting Position:

  • Get down onto the floor and into a plank.
  • Make sure your medicine ball is positioned in front of you.
  • If your medicine ball has handles you can slip your hands in them. If not, simply put both hands on the medicine ball.
  • Extend your arms fully and you are ready to go.

Execution Of The Push Up On Medicine Ball:

  • Gradually lower your body towards the floor until your chest is almost touching the ball.
  • From this position, you should then push yourself back to the starting position and that's one rep done.

Looking for push up exercises for beginners? You can make this exercise easier by placing one hand on the ball and one on the floor - just make sure that you do an equal number of reps with each arm.

Muscles Worked

Primary Movers: Pectoralis major and minor 

Secondary Movers: Deltoids, triceps, rectus abdominis, and trapezius

Common Problems When Performing A Medicine Ball Push Up

Flared Elbows

Because this exercise requires a closer hand position than other press up variations, a lot of people make the mistake of flaring their elbows out as they perform the push and press.

Flaring your elbows can not only take away from the benefits that this exercise has for working your chest, but it can also really damage your joints, potentially causing an elbow injury. 

Avoid this common mistake at all costs, tucking your elbows into the side of your body and keeping them close to your torso throughout the duration of the exercise.

Benefits Of Performing A Push Up With Medicine Ball

It’s A Versatile Exercise

One of our favorite things about the medicine ball push up is that although it is one of the more advanced push up variations, it can easily be made more simple using the tip we mentioned a little earlier.

By simply placing one hand on the floor and keeping one on the medicine ball, this exercise becomes a great progression exercise for anybody who has mastered the regular press up but can’t quite hack the full medicine ball variation. 

Improved Chest Strength & Mass

All of the exercises on this list are great for working your chest and recruiting your upper body, but this advanced medicine ball alternative is up there with the very best push up exercises for mass and strength development. 

The specific hand position necessary to perform this exercise, paired with the stability required to rest on the medicine ball, make this a really great exercise to work your chest and your core.

Want to try this at home? Check out the 13 best slam balls to buy in the UK.

#10 Handstand Push Up 

Want a fun way to work out? Handstand push up variations are a great way of exercising and developing a new skill!

Set Up: Find yourself plenty of space near a sturdy wall. 

Starting Position:

  • Start by standing upright, facing the wall.
  • Crouch to place your hands on the floor and kick your feet up so that you end up in a handstand position, resting your heels against the wall.
  • Your hands should be wider than shoulder-width apart and your fingers facing the wall.
  • Engage your core muscles and ensure that your body is aligned. 

Execution:

  • Bend at your elbows to lower yourself towards the ground.
  • Lower your body until your head is almost touching the floor.
  • Press yourself back up until you return to the starting position until your arms are extended (but not fully locked).
  • That’s one rep done!

Muscles Worked

Primary Movers: Pectoralis major, deltoids, triceps

Secondary Movers: Trapezius and serratus anterior

Common Mistakes With A Handstand Push Up

Engage Your Core!

This is another common mistake that comes up with most press up variations, but because this handstand variation requires so much balance and stability, it really is worth mentioning.

Failing to engage your core during this exercise will make it harder for you to keep your balance and make it more difficult to execute the movement. 

The last thing you want to do is fall and injure yourself so ensure that you contract your core muscles and keep them that way for the entire duration.

Benefits Of Handstand Push Ups

Improved Balance

One advantage of performing handstand push up variations regularly is that it can really improve your balance. The more you practice this exercise, the easier it will become, and the more you will see your balance improve in other every day activities. 

Plus, once you’ve mastered this version of the exercise leant against a wall, it will be much easier to move on to a real handstand push up. 

Shoulders Strength

Another benefit of this exercise is that in addition to the regularbenefits of press up variations for chest and upper body strength, this move really works your shoulders specifically.

The clues in the name, the handstand push up combines a handstand with a regular press up exercise, producing a killer upper exercise that can improve the strength and definition of your upper body.

Better Posture

Finally, another one of our favourite things about this press up variation, in particular, is that it can actually help to improve your posture. 

According to Medium, being able to perform a handstand properly has huge benefits for your posture. They explain:

“This is because the only way to have a good, balanced, and strong handstand is to align your palms, shoulders, hips, and feet into one perfect vertical line.”

#11 Side to Side Push Up

Set Up: To set up for the side-to-side variation of a push up, you’ll need little to no equipment, just plenty of space. 

You may want to grab a gym or yoga mat, but as ever, remember to wipe down shared mats before and after use.

Starting Position:

Push up side to side image 2

  • Start on the floor in a plank position.
  • Stretch your legs out behind you so that your toes are touching the ground.
  • Put your hands out in front of you to support your weight, positioning your hands wider than shoulder-width apart.

Side to side push up image

Execution:

  • This is one of the more unique press up exercises on our list because instead of pressing your body up and down, you move side to side (hence the name ‘push up side to side!). 
  • Extend your right hand out to the side and straighten this arm.
  • Your left arm should be bent at your elbow and your body should be positioned so that your left hand is directly underneath your left shoulder.

Push up side to side starting position

  • Drive your left hand into the ground to push your body to your right.
  • Keep your hips tucked and your body straight as you move from side to side.

Side to side push up image 3

  • Now, your left arm should be extended out, and your right arm bent. 
  • Repeat the movement to return back to the starting position, and that’s one rep done!

Muscles Worked

Primary Movers: Pectoralis major, trapezius, and deltoids

Secondary Movers: Triceps and rectus abdominis

Common Mistakes with the Side to Side Push Up

Losing Your Form

Even more so than any of the other press up exercises in our list, the side to side push up is one that people find the toughest to keep good form for.

More often than not, people will move their body upwards as they reach the middle of this exercise, before returning to their proper form as their weight returns to one side.

This is not the correct way to do this exercise variation. Instead, your body should remain straight from your heels to your head throughout, and your chest should remain the same distance from the ground at all times.

Benefits of the Side to Side Push Up

Lateral Training

One benefit that sets this apart from the other press up exercises comes from the fact that this is a lateral exercise.

Lateral training has tons of benefits in itself, such as preventing injuries by strengthening your joints and helping to improve your body’s balance and coordination.

Not only that, sometimes it's fun to add in different kinds of press up variations, and trying out a lateral variation is a brilliant way to do that!

Find out how to do lateral raises and add them to your workout to add to the benefits of these push up exercises for your shoulders!

#12 Incline Push Up With a Wide Grip 

Set Up: You will need an exercise bench or step that is roughly the same height as your knees. You may want to grab an exercise mat to help to stop your feet from slipping.

Starting Position:

Incline push up wide grip starting position

  • Get into a plank position on the floor, with your facing the bench or step.
  • Place both hands on the bench with a widely spaced grip.
  • Straighten up your legs out behind you.
  • Engage your core muscles and squeeze your glutes so that your body forms a straight line.

Execution:

Incline push up wide grip execution image

  • Starting from the push up position, gradually lower yourself towards the bench.
  • Because you have taken such a wide grip, you should be able to lower your torso right down to the bench and touch it. 
  • When you feel the bench touch your chest, start to push yourself back up to the starting position again.
  • When you find yourself in that initial starting position, then you have successfully completed your first rep! 

Incline Push Up Wide Grip: Muscles Worked

Primary Movers: Pectoralis major

Secondary Movers: Rectus abdominis, deltoids, triceps

Common Mistakes With This Exercise

Hand Positioning 

As this exercise is an incline push up with a wide grip, it’s pretty obvious that you’re going to want to place your hands reasonably far apart when you perform this exercise.

However, a lot of people make the mistake of placing their hands too far apart to the extent that they can not complete the exercise in the full range of motion comfortably. 

This makes it harder to complete the full movement which makes the exercise less effective!

You need to position your hands so that you can still comfortably press your body towards the bench. If you find that you can't get low enough, your hands are probably placed too far apart.

Benefits Of An Incline Push Up With Wide Grip

Good For Beginners 

One advantage of incorporating a wide grip incline push up into your workouts is that both the incline and the wide grip make this one of the best push up exercises for women and men who are beginners.

Even if you can’t quite manage a full press up just yet, you’ll still get a great chest workout.

Plus, training this movement and strengthening your upper body will get you closer and closer to mastering a full press up.

#13 Dive Bomber Push-Up

Set up: The exercise does not require any equipment and can be done at home, outside, or in the gym.

Starting Position:

  • Find space on the floor and get into a regular push up starting position. 
  • Put your hands flat on the floor shoulder-width apart and extend your legs behind you.
  • Place your feet together and hinge your hips so that your glutes are higher than the rest of your body.
  • Your back, arms, and legs should be straight.
  • Position your head so that you are looking at your feet.

Execution:

  • Lower your chest to the ground, simultaneously moving your upper body forwards, as if you are sliding under a bar.
  • Make sure that your chest does not touch the ground.
  • As you extend your arms, look up and arch your back to push your chest between your arms.
  • Reverse the movement so that you return to the starting position.

Muscles Worked

Primary Movers: Pectoralis major

Secondary Movers: Deltoids, triceps, lower back, hamstrings, quadriceps, glutes

Common Mistakes To Look Out For

Not Doing The Full Exercise

If you want to get the full benefits of this exercise, then you’ll need to perform the full exercise!

Avoid cheating yourself by making the common mistake of not lowering your chest close enough to the ground.

This definitely isn’t the best press up variation for beginners so if you’re finding it easy, you might be cheating without even realising!

Relaxing Your Back

Because this press up variation is slightly different to similar exercises in that your body should not form a straight line from your heels all the way to your head, a lot of people think that they relax their core, but this is not the case!

Although you should hinge at your hips, your core muscles should remain engaged, your back should be straight, and your legs should be extended out behind you.

Failing to do this can result in lower back pain or injury, so this mistake is definitely best avoided altogether!

Benefits Of This Exercise

A Great Full Body Exercise

One of the best things about this push up variation is that it is a full-body exercise, recruiting your glutes, hamstrings, and quads more than other press up exercises.

Want to know more? We’ve discussed more benefits of dive bomber push ups and how to do our favorite TRX push variations on this recent blog post.

Before You Go!

Now that we've explained how to do all of these brilliant press up exercises, we hope that you're feeling inspired for your next upper body workout!

Feeling extra motivated? Why not take the first step towards an exciting career by enquiring for one of our REPs accredited personal training courses today.

Alternatively, you can download the full OriGym course prospectus.

Written by Abbie Watkins

Fitness Content Executive, OriGym

Join Abbie on Facebook at the OriGym Facebook Group

Holding an MA Marketing Communications and Branding as well as a BSc Psychology from the University of Liverpool, Abbie’s experience encompasses the retail, hospitality and fitness industries. Since joining OriGym, she has become a qualified Personal Trainer and gone on to complete a specialist qualification in advanced Sports Nutrition. Abbie’s main focuses cover staying up to speed with YouTube fitness influencers, identifying successful and innovative content formats. She has contributed to various publications, including the Daily Express. Beyond OriGym, she describes herself as a ‘work-hard, play-hard’ type going on scenic runs and upbeat exercise classes, and often found on the front row of a Saturday morning spin class. 

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