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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.

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

Dumbbells and barbells don't always present the most difficult feats of strength and athleticism. Certain push-up variations will challenge even the most seasoned of weight lifters.

Superman Push-Up

Jack LaLanne, known as the godfather of fitness, can be 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.

To attempt this push-up, 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.

This push-up variation requires not only great chest strength, but a strong core, powerful shoulders and muscular arms to push your entire body weight off the ground.


One-Arm Push-Up

One arm push-ups are still challenging even for seasoned weight lifters.

Being a one-arm push-up by getting into the standard push-up position. Except for this variation, widen your feet, so they’re wider than shoulder width. Place one hand behind your back and slowly lower yourself to the ground.


Aztec Push-Up

Applying the concept of plyometrics to push-ups make them even more challenging. Plyometric push-ups involve an explosive push off the floor, where your hands and chest come flying off the floor. For an added degree of difficulty, you can attempt to clap before gravity brings you back down.

One of the most challenging, plyometric push-ups is the Aztec Push-Up. 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.


Planche Push-Up

Arguable 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.


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