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What Is the Hardest Push-Up?

author image Eric Bach
Eric Bach is a personal trainer, author of The Power Primer, and fitness business consultant in Denver, Colorado. His passion is simplifying fitness, helping clients get great results through the ruthless execution of the basics. Find out more on his website Bach Performance, or hang out on Facebook.
What Is the Hardest Push-Up?
Adding weights is just one way to make push-ups harder. Photo Credit gpointstudio/iStock/Getty Images

In elementary school gym class, physical fitness tests meant strength challenges, like push-ups and pull-ups. And push-ups have always been a standard by which many kids — and adults — have tested their strength.

There are certain push-up variations that will challenge even the most seasoned of weight lifters. What are they? Here are our top four. Are you strong enough to complete a set of 10 of each of these?

1. Superman Push-Up

Jack LaLanne, known as the godfather of fitness, is credited with creating one of the hardest push-up variations on Earth. Sometimes referred to as the LaLanne Fingertip Push-Up, this push-up variation is most commonly called the Superman Push-Up.

It requires not only a ton of chest strength, but also a strong core, powerful shoulders and muscular arms to push your entire body weight off the ground.

HOW TO DO IT: Lie flat on the ground, extending your arms and legs as far as you can. Begin the push-up by pressing your fingertips and toes into the ground. Then push through your fingertips, only using your toes to keep you grounded, and bring your body off the ground.

Try only balancing on one hand — pretty challenging!
Try only balancing on one hand — pretty challenging! Photo Credit undrey/iStock/Getty Images

2. One-Arm Push-Up

One-arm push-ups are incredibly challenging, even for seasoned weight lifters. They change your center of gravity and force you to only use one arm to lift yourself off the ground.

HOW TO DO IT: Begin a one-arm push-up by getting into the standard push-up position. For this variation, separate your feet, so that they’re wider than shoulder-width apart to give you a more solid base. Place one hand behind your back and slowly lower yourself to the ground. Push back up, keeping your core strong.

Read more: How You Can Conquer the One-Arm Push-Up

3. Aztec Push-Up

Applying the concept of plyometrics to push-ups makes them even more challenging. Plyometric push-ups involve an explosive push off the floor, where your hands and chest come flying off the ground. But one of the most challenging plyometric push-ups is the Aztec Push-Up.

HOW TO DO IT: These push-ups start out like any other version. But as you explode up from the bottom, driving your entire body into the air, your goal is to touch your hands to your toes. You then quickly straighten your hands and feet back out to break your fall, returning to the standard push-up position.

4. Planche Push-Up

Arguably the absolute toughest push-up, though, is the Planche Push-Up. Not only does this push-up require tremendous chest strength, but it also requires that you have strong wrists, hands, forearms and shoulders.

It’s an incredibly difficult variation to perform because you must first master the planche position. The planche is one of the hardest gymnastic moves to perform and is the base for this push-up variation.

When your body is in the planche position, your center of gravity resides over your hands. With your legs off the ground, and your hands, arms, and shoulders supporting your entire weight you’ll need a tremendous amount of strength to execute this push-up.

HOW TO DO IT: Lie on the floor on your stomach and extend your arms along your side with your hands at your hips. Place your palms on the floor and turn your fingers out to the sides. Press up into the top of a push-up position.

Lean your weight forward into your chest and shoulders, squeeze your legs together and engage your abs to lift both feet and legs off the floor. Only your palms make contact with the floor. Bend your elbows to lower your chest to the floor. Keep your lower body elevated the entire time. Extend your elbows back up to complete one repetition.

What Do YOU Think?

Are these the hardest push-ups for you? What other ones would you put on the list? Share your suggestions in the comments below!

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