The pushup is one of the most basic exercises. Most people have been asked to complete a basic pushup at some point in their lives. Pushups are often used in situations where equipment is not available because the only thing needed to complete most variations of the exercise is you.
These are the pushups that most people are familiar with. Begin in a prone position on the floor with your hands placed just beside your shoulders and palms flat against the floor. Your lower body should be anchored to the floor by your toes. Begin the motion by pressing your hands against the floor and extending your arms, pushing your body away from the floor. Once your arms are fully extended, slowly lower your body back down towards the floor. Once your chest is approximately the distance of one closed fist from the floor, press back up to continue the next repetition.
Modified pushups are used to decrease the level of difficulty of the exercise to allow those with less strength to perform the exercise. To perform a modified pushup, rest your knees on the floor. Keep your hips in and your back flat when performing modified pushups.
Diamond pushups are used to increase the amount of work being done by the triceps muscles. When performing diamond pushups place your hands under your chest with your index fingers and thumbs touching each other to create a diamond shape.
Knuckle pushups can be helpful if you have problems with your wrists as flexible as your wrist is in a neutral position during this variation. Place your hands on the ground in a closed fist with the knuckles facing down.
Performing pushups with your feet elevated is more difficult than doing standard pushups. Elevate your feet by placing them on an elevated surface such as a bench, a chair, a box, or even in a partner's hands.
Upper Body Elevated
Pushups with the upper body elevated are easier to perform than standard pushups and are a great way to teach the exercises. You can elevate your body on an object like a chair or a step. The higher the object is, the easier it will be to perform your pushup.
One arm pushups are one of the most difficult types of pushup. This is because one of your arms arm to do the work of two. Also, your body must compensate for the shift in balance and stability that occurs.
One leg pushups are performed in the same manner as standard pushups with the difference being that you must hold one leg off of the floor. One leg pushups increase the level of difficulty by requiring the body to compensate for the alteration in balance and stability as well as the use of the muscles of the hip and upper leg to support the limb.
You can use unstable surfaces to complicate the standard pushup. A stability ball, medicine ball, balance disc or cushion can be used to create an unstable surface. Place the unstable surface between the floor and your hands or between the floor and your feet.
Clapping pushups introduce a plyometric element to the exercise. Perform clapping pushups by pushing your body off of the floor high enough that you are able to bring your hands together and clap before descending back down to the start position.
- American Council on Exercise: Push-up
- The Ultimate Guide to Pushups; David Nordmark and Jamie Reynolds