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The Best Variations for the Push-Up Challenge

by 
author image Rachel Grice
Rachel Grice is a contributing fitness editor for Livestrong.com and a certified yoga instructor. Previously, she was the science section editor and titling associate for several other sections of Demand Media Studios, including fitness, nutrition and technology. She completed her undergrad education at the University of Southern California and has worked for Men's Health, FitPregnancy and People magazines.
The Best Variations for the Push-Up Challenge
Ready for an even tougher challenge? Try a one-arm push-up. Photo Credit: Kolostock/Blend Images/GettyImages

It’s the second week of the LIVESTRONG.COM Push-Up Challenge, and things are heating up! Last week you did 60 total push-ups, but this week you’ll be knocking out about 100 more than last week (a grand total of 161 push-ups, to be exact).

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With all those reps to complete, you’re bound to get a little bored (or sore or both). So here are the best modifications and variations for every fitness level — beginner, intermediate and advanced. If you think we missed any of your favorites, be sure to tell us in our Challenge Facebook Group.

Beginner Push-Up Variations

1. Wall Push-Up

HOW TO DO IT: Stand a few feet away from a wall. Lean forward and brace yourself with your arms, keeping your hands under your shoulders. Bend your elbows to bring your chest toward the wall. Go as far as you can, and then push back to the start.

2. Tabletop Push-Up

HOW TO DO IT: Start on all fours with your knees under your hips and hands under your shoulders. Bend your elbows and lower your chest to the floor before pushing back up.

3. Incline Push-Up

HOW TO DO IT: Place your hands on a bench, chair, table or other sturdy object directly under your shoulders. Bend your elbows and lower your chest to the bench before pushing back up. This version is the best for progressing to standard push-ups because it also builds the core strength necessary for push-ups.

4. Knee Push-Up

HOW TO DO IT: Start in a plank position but drop your knees. Bend your elbows and lower your chest all the way to the floor. Push back up, keeping your back straight and your hips level the entire time.

5. Wide-Leg Push-Up

HOW TO DO IT: Start with your feet wider than hip-width apart. The further apart they are, the more stability you have and the easier the push-up is. Bend your elbows, lower your chest and then push back up.

Read more: What Are the Benefits of Push-Ups?

Intermediate Push-Up Variations

1. Standard Push-Up

HOW TO DO IT: We’ve been talking about this one a lot, but it’s the gold standard for a reason — not easy, but not too hard, either. Start in a plank, lower your chest to the group and then push back up.

2. Single-Leg Push-Up

HOW TO DO IT: Perform this push-up just like a regular push-up, but lift one foot several inches off the floor and hold it there for the duration. Make sure you do the same number of reps with each leg raised.

3. Spiderman Push-Up

HOW TO DO IT: As you bend your elbows and lower to the floor, bend one of your knees and bring it up to your elbow. Push back up and return your foot to join the other one. Repeat on the other side and perform the same number of reps on each side.

4. T Push-Up

HOW TO DO IT: After performing a regular push-up, put your weight into one hand and rotate into a side plank. Raise your top hand above your head and shoulders, hold for one second and then bring your hand back down to the ground for one rep. Repeat on the other side.

5. Fingertip Push-Up

HOW TO DO IT: Instead of doing push-ups on your hands, lift up onto your fingertips to strengthen the muscles that control your grip.

6. Dragon Push-Up

HOW TO DO IT: Start in a plank and step your right hand and left leg a few feet forward as you lower down into a push-up. As you come back up, return to a plank. Then repeat on the other side.

7. Divebomber

HOW TO DO IT: Start in downward-facing dog. Bend your elbows as you swoop your chest close to the floor (but without touching), and then raise into upward-facing dog. Bend your elbows and reverse the movement back to downward-facing dog.

8. Hindu Push-Up

HOW TO DO IT: Start in downward-facing dog. Bend your elbows as you swoop your chest close to the floor (but without touching), and then lift your hips back up to downward-facing dog.

9. Diamond Push-Up

HOW TO DO IT: Start with your hands together with your thumbs and forefingers touching to form a diamond. Bend your elbows and lower your chest to the floor before pushing back up.

10. Downward Dog Push-Up

HOW TO DO IT: Start in an inverted V (downward-facing dog). Bend your elbows and lower your head toward the floor, maintaining your V shape. Press back up to the starting position.

11. Decline Push-Up

HOW TO DO IT: Perform a regular push-up with your feet raised on a table, chair or stability ball.

Read more: What Is the Hardest Push-Up?

Advanced Push-Up Variations

1. Handstand Push-Up

HOW TO DO IT: Kick up into a handstand with your feet against a wall. Slowly and with control, bend your elbows so that your head lowers to the floor. With a burst of energy, push back up to a handstand. (You may want to try this with a pillow or pad under your head.)

2. One-Arm Push-Up

HOW TO DO IT: Begin in a plank, but tuck one hand behind your back. Bend your elbow and lower your chest to the floor. Press back up with only one hand.

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

3. Pseudo Planche Push-Up

HOW TO DO IT: Start in a plank, but turn your hands to face the opposite way so that your fingers point toward your toes. Lean slightly forward as you bend your elbows and lower down and push back up. When bent, your elbows should be tucked in toward your waist.

4. Plyo Push-Up

HOW TO DO IT: Lower down into a push-up, but instead of pushing directly back up, explode upward and lift your hands off the ground. Land with elbows slightly bent to absorb the impact.

5. Aztec Push-Up

HOW TO DO IT: Lower down into a push-up. On the way up, use your arms and hips to lift your entire body up into the air, where you will pike in midair and touch your toes.

6. Superman Push-Up

HOW TO DO IT: This is another plyometric variation. When you explode off the ground, lift your arms and legs so that you resemble Superman in midair. Quickly bring your arms back down to land on your toes and hands with your elbows slightly bent.

7. Planche

HOW TO DO IT: Start in a plank, but turn your hands to face the opposite way so that your fingers point toward your toes. Lean slightly forward and lift your feet off the floor. Bend your elbows in toward your waist, lower down and push back up.

How to Join the Push-Up Challenge

1. Make Your Push-Ups a Daily Habit

Print out the 30-day push-up calendar below and use it each day to help you stay on track. Do the prescribed number of reps each day, and then check off each day as you complete them. Before you know it, it’ll become habit!

Print this and keep it where you’ll see it!
Print this and keep it where you’ll see it! Photo Credit: Gracie Wilson/LIVESTRONG.COM

2. Connect With Us on Facebook

For daily support, motivation and camaraderie with LIVESTRONG.COM team members, join us in our Facebook Group for the 30-Day Push-Up Challenge. We’ll share tips, motivation, pictures and more! Plus, we’ll answer all your questions.

3. Stay Motivated

Throughout the 30 days we’ll provide you with the tools and information you need to stay motivated and reach your weight-loss goals. Sign up for our daily newsletter or visit our homepage to get linked up with the push-up challenge and other great content, including:

  • Daily motivational articles to keep you focused on your goal
  • Nutrition and fitness advice, including recipes and workouts
  • Real-time community support from thousands of LIVESTRONG.COM members
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