All Kinds of Push-ups

The push-up is about as close to a perfect exercise as you can get. Push-ups require no equipment (even pull-ups require a bar) and they can be modified in an infinite number of ways.

If you can’t do a push-up yet, start by practicing on your knees or up on an angle until you build the necessary strength and coordination. Planks and side planks are also great exercises to help with working towards push-ups.

Push-up Grips
The traditional push-up involves putting your palms flat on the ground, but you can also try doing push-ups on your fists, which is more difficult. For an added challenge, you can tent up your hands and perform push-ups on your fingertips. If that’s still not enough, you can start taking some of those fingers off the ground!

Hand Placement
The standard hand placement for a push-up is slightly wider than shoulder width. If you want to add more emphasis to your triceps, try a narrower hand placement. To place more emphasis on your chest, position your hands wider.

Foot Placement
When performing this exercise, you’ll find that keeping your feet farther apart will make the push-up slightly less difficult. When learning advanced variations, start with a wider stance and work your way towards keeping your feet shoulder width or narrower.

Danny gets airborn with a plyo push-up.

Plyo Push-ups
Once you’ve gotten comfortable with traditional push-ups, try getting explosive and pushing your upper body completely off the ground. Once you get the hang of this, start adding in claps, arm waves, or other movements to show your personal style. Eventually you might work up to getting your entire body off the ground!


Hindu and Dive Bomber Push-ups

The Hindu push-up is a challenging variation that involves starting with your hips way up in the air (similar to the yoga pose downward facing dog). From there, lower your face towards the ground, then scoop your chest up while dropping your hips down (ending in a position similar to the yoga pose upward facing dog). Shift your hips back to the start position and repeat. A dive bomber push-up is pretty much the same, except you get back to the starting position by doing the move in reverse.

The One Arm Push-up
The one arm push-up takes lots of practice as well as total body strength. Check out this post on performing one arm push-ups for more info.

Plyo One Arm Push-up?
There is a famous Zen koan which asks, “What is the sound of one hand clapping?” I couldn’t help wondering, “What is the sound of a one hand clapping push-up?”

Watch the video below to find out:


For more information, check out my book, Pushing The Limits! – Total Body Strength With No Equipment.

67 thoughts on “All Kinds of Push-ups

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  • By Toughtraveler -

    Nice…. The new intro is cool as well…..

  • By Al Kavadlo -

    Thanks – glad you like the new intro!

    • By Darren -

      My question is: How fast should I do them?

  • By Adam -

    The tripple clap is beastly.

  • By Al Kavadlo -

    Thanks, Adam! You'll be getting multiple claps soon enough.

  • By Anjeanette -

    Down dog is a staple of yoga. It’s important especially for newbies to utilize key positioning skills. I found that Leeann Carey has a great free yoga video on this very thing. Your readers might want to check it out: http://planetyoga.com/yoga-blogs/index.php/free

  • By Al Kavadlo -

    Thanks for sharing, Anjeanette. Leeann clearly and effectively explains one of the key subtleties to performing a downward dog pose.

  • By Ajcurly -

    One arm clap….classic! Good work Al.

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  • By Al Kavadlo -

    Thanks, buddy!

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  • By Jguyc -

    Cool thanks Al, i like that you give a beginner a starting point!

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      You’re welcome – keep training hard and you won’t be a beginner for long!

  • By Cinnamonbun -

    This is wicked! Push ups are among my favorite of exercises! :) Awesomeness!

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Thanks!

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  • By Rumbaugh Jessica -

    awesome!! Love the endless variations of the wonderfully simple pushup, can be done anywhere anytime! I am anxious to try some of those clapping ones! :)

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Thanks, Jessica!  I think you’re strong enough to get some plyo action.

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  • By DTX -

    Hey, have you ever tried “Aztec push-ups”? It’s where you hop from a push-up position so that your entire body is off the ground and try to bring your hands your feet in the air for a moment before extending back out again. They have various videos of guys doing them on YouTube. It looks pretty insane….and like it might pop a hamstring if you’re not flexible enough.

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  • By Ty -

    Hindu and dive bomber kind of like tiger bend ones seem like a good way to prepare for decline push ups to transition to the handstand ones.

  • By Ty -

    Hindu and dive bomber kind of like tiger bend ones seem like a good way to prepare for decline push ups to transition to the handstand ones.

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  • By Fyture -

    what is the best pushup to strengthen your chest? when i do 1-arms, i feel it mostly in my tricep…is that because im doing it wrong?

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      There is no one best anything for anything.  And no, you’re not doing anything wrong.  It’s normal to feel one arm push-ups a lot in the triceps.

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      There is no one best anything for anything.  And no, you’re not doing anything wrong.  It’s normal to feel one arm push-ups a lot in the triceps.

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  • By Tom -

    Thanks for all the great ino you out on here. I stumbled accross your work on Tnation and I thought it was great. Your new Ebook is at the top of my to read/buy list.

    Keep up the good work!

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Thanks, Tom!

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  • By pasadena fitness boot camp -

    I’s feeling that I’s need this for a while because I’m actually a beginner and has started it a while ago and I had a personal trainer who’s suggest me this all. And Now in his Absence I couldn’t make it done properly so I think this all gonna be helpful to me in this purpose. 

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  • By Weight Loss Leawood -

    Well Push-ups exercises are my favorite . Although i like all push-ups
    exercises but The One Arm Push-up is one of the exercise which i use to
    do mostly . These exercise are very helpful for fitness of body . 

  • By Boot Camp Sydney -

    When performing this exercise, you’ll find that keeping your feet farther apart will make the push-up slightly less difficult.
    sound great and also love it for do it .

  • By personal trainer des moines -

    Any kind of exercise of very beneficial for health . I read this blog and in this blog  important information contain which is helpful and guide on right way . 
    This type of exercise make strong our muscles and body . 

  • By Click here -

    Hi friends!Push up exercise is the best exercise for keep good fitness and health.
    According to me Push up exercises giving good shape of our body.It is
    best exercise for weight loss and fat loss.

  • By Click here -

    Hi friends!Push up exercise is the best exercise for keep good fitness and health.
    According to me Push up exercises giving good shape of our body.It is
    best exercise for weight loss and fat loss.

  • By Ashton -

    I was doing pushups everyday for a week, practicing, greasing the groove, and I got up from 2 to 10! Perfect form too, though there was struggle on the last two reps. I started doing different variations, diamond, decline, and clapping and I’m improving everyday. I just wanted to thank you for the inspiration.

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Congrats on your progress!  Glad I could help!

  • By Andreas -

    Hi Al, great form on the one arm push-ups! How difficult would you consider these do be compared to other bodyweight exercises. If you do them like in video with the feet a little bit wider than shoulder width and a straight or close to straight spine? And how long did it take you personally to be able to do them with good form? 

    I’m sure you get a lot of boring questions like these, but how many of these can you do 😛 ?

    Great video and i hope you can answer my (dumb) questions :).

    • By Al Kavadlo -

      Thanks, Andreas!  A clean OAP is definitely an advanced bodyweight exercise.  As for how long it took me, I started doing push-ups when I was 13 and I started doing OAPs when I was around 25.  That doesn’t mean it takes 12 years of training to do one, but rather how (to use your word) dumb these types of questions are.

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  • By James Candell -

    Hey Al, this may be a stupid question but me me being a newbie to push ups, I was wondering , for the standard two handed, slightly wider than shoulder width push up (basically what I mean is the most basic form of a push up), do you keeps your upper arms close to your sides (like parallel to your torso) , or do you let them go out freely from your sides and not worry about them when doing a pushup?

    • By Andy Fossett -

      Not a stupid question at all – in fact, it’s hotly debated at times!

      For most people, letting your elbows come out from the body isn’t going to hurt anything. In fact, some people even recommend it because it can help recruit more pectoral muscle.

      But I’d also urge you to practice with your elbows close to your body, at least part of the time. Primarily because it’s better for your shoulders and elbows.

      The more push-ups you do, you’ll find that some variations are easier than others, so it’s great to mix it up using the different styles in Al’s video above.

    • By RobbyTaylor -

      To add to Andy’s information, keeping your elbows in also works the triceps more. Furthermore, it is key in advancing to one of my favorite variations, the pseudo planche push up (PPP). This particular variation is excellent because it amplifies all strength benefits of the basic push up. That is, while variations such as diamond or wide grip focus more on the triceps or chest, respectively, the PPP hits the chest, triceps, shoulders, and core harder. This is possible because you are effectively pressing much more of your weight. In fact, it is actually harder than a strict pull up, in a standardized sense. However, the other thing that makes it so great is that is it very accessible and, as long as you are strong enough to do it, is easy to keep good form. Most people would move on to the one arm push up, which is a solid variation in its own right, yet it has its setbacks. Namely, that it is very difficult to keep good form, and most people don’t. Besides, I personally think the handstand push up offers more benefits than the one arm push up, if you want something that hard. But that isn’t to say the one arm push up is no good; everything has its place. Ultimately, though, if you want to keep going, you would want to move on to real planche push ups anyway. While you would have to do more than just PPP to prepare for planche push ups, that doesn’t stop the PPP from being an excellent variation in its own right.

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