Basically, the difference between a standard pushup and a military pushup involves where the elbows are placed during the pushup. When performing a standard pushup, you place your hands about shoulder-width apart and keep your elbows slightly apart from the body. With a military pushup, you put your hands in the same position but keep your elbows right against your sides. This causes the military pushup to exert much more pressure on your triceps than the standard pushup.
Effectively working out the chest, core, shoulder, legs and triceps when properly executed, the standard pushup is the one most commonly performed since it is easier to complete than the military pushup. The problem with pushups is the inability of people to keep the stomach from sagging, to concentrate on maintaining a flat spine and the urge to use the body core for assistance in raising the body. Individuals just starting to do the standard pushup generally begin with kneeling pushup, in which the arms still push the body upward but gather support from the knees rather than the toes.
While performing a military pushup, feet are allowed to be no more than 12 inches apart or can be held together, depending on the trainer's ability. Body is rigidly maintained in a straight line throughout the exercise. Bend elbows to lower the body, stopping just before the chest touches the ground. Keeping the body core steady and rigid is extremely important in order to receive full benefits of the exercise. This is what makes the military pushup difficult to perform correctly, as most people do not possess a strong enough core to maintain the "plank" position.
Advantages of Standard and Military Pushups
When executed properly, both types of pushups provide cardiovascular benefits as well as enhancement of triceps, abdomen, back and leg muscles. Pushups may be one of the best exercises to develop core strength, because preventing any deviation from a perfectly straight body is essential to correctly performing the pushup. Pushups implemented with consistency and in succession of one another also provide a workout that stokes metabolism and burns calories.
Disadvantages of Standard and Military Pushups
The only disadvantage of military pushups is the fact that they are difficult to perform, unless trainers already possess the strength to perform such an exercise. More allowances are permitted with standard pushups, especially in the form of resting the core on the knees rather than the toes. In addition, by keeping elbows close to the body during a military pushup, the triceps receive more pressure during elevation and descent than they do in a standard pushup.