If you favor the solitude of working out at home over the crowded and loud gym environment, your fitness bag of tricks should be loaded with body-weight exercises. Traditional pushups are a simple way to target your pectoral muscles, but with a slight shift in your hand position, you change the exercise's target altogether. Diamond pushups, also known as close-grip pushups, are the best strengthening exercise for your triceps according to the American Council on Exercise.
A Minor Hand Change
In a traditional pushup, you begin by lying chest-down on the floor with your hands placed beside your shoulders. For a diamond, move your hands so they're under your shoulders or even closer together. In this position, your thumbs should be close together, as should your index fingers. The space left between your hands has the rough shape of a diamond. From there you perform the exercise in the same way as a traditional pushup.
Your Triceps and Beyond
If you wish to shift the target muscle of a set of traditional pushups, the ACE notes you won't find a better exercise than diamonds. This exercise targets your triceps, the large muscles found in the upper rear of your arms. Your triceps contribute to the extension of your elbows and extension and adduction of your shoulders. Other muscles, including your pecs, deltoids, biceps, abs, obliques and quads, also get a workout when you perform diamond pushups.
Convenience and Adaptability
Unlike training with free weights, you don't need any type of equipment to strengthen your body with diamond pushups. This exercise is also adaptable; if you struggle with the basic form, perform it on an incline by leaning your hands on the edge of a bench or bar. When it feels too easy, don a weighted vest to instantly elevate the resistance of each rep.
Diamonds vs. Other Triceps Exercises
The ACE sponsored a study by the University of Wisconsin/La Crosse to rank a number of triceps exercises to determine which generated the greatest muscle activity. The study found diamond pushups, even when tested against free-weight exercises, resulted in the most muscle activity. The rest of the top five, in order, were kickbacks, dips, overhead extensions and rope pushdowns.
- ExRx.net: Push-Up
- ExRx.net: Close Grip Push-Up
- Muscle & Strength: Close Grip Push Up Video Guide
- ExRx.net: Triceps Brachii
- ExRx.net: Close Grip Incline Push-up (on Bar)
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Why Strength Training?
- American Council on Exercise: ACE-Sponsored Research: Best Triceps Exercises