15 ways to switch up your push-ups

by | May 24, 2019 | Fitness, Sport performance

Upper body exercise number one! 
When you combine the core strength involved,
The shoulder stability,
The glute and hip integration,
And the upper body pushing strength,
Nothing really compares.
Plus, we love simplicity,
And all you need is your own body to do it.
You can do it on the beach,
At the cabin,
One the dock,
In the hotel,
In your living room,
At the gym,
On top of a mountain,
You name it!
But, if the standard push-ups aren’t cutting it anymore, 
Here are some beauties you can throw into your arsenal.
Some are more challenging,
Some are more of a lateral move in difficulty,
But they all provide a way for you to switch up your push-ups.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, 
Just some quick variations on this bang-for-your-buck exercise.
Here we go…

1. Yoga

We learned this one from Eric Cressey.
This is a great way to progress to overhead movements.
The key with this is to integrate the push upwards with the reach overhead. 
And then integrate it on the way down too.

2. Decline

Feet elevated = harder.
You also challenge a different area of the chest on this one –  a little lower down toward the bottom of your chest.

3. Incline

Hands-elevated = easier. 
But, you can still do this one for higher reps,
Or tempo style (see below),
Or with a weight vest, 
Or with an ISO hold (see below),
As it emphasizes a different area of the chest – higher up towards the collar bones,
It does emphasize the shoulders a bit more too. 

4. T push-up

Anytime you can work some rotation and extra core work into your push-ups…do it!
This movement wraps all the above into a nice little bow.

5. Slideboard

This is a mondo-level progression that really fires up the front of your core.
Plus, you’ll get some great range-of-motion in the shoulders as you reach. 

6. 1-foot 

Decreased point of contact makes for an increased challenge on stability. 
This one ties in some great core and hip stability into a rock-solid move.


7. Suspension trainer

This may be our favourite progression. 
The stability in the shoulders is off-the-charts on this one as you fight to keep your shit in line. 
Get down with this movement to get jacked and functional. 

8. ISO holds

Anytime you hold a movement, 
It’s going to be more challenging. 
We love this one to learn how to “own” positions. 
It teaches you exactly where you need to be,
And how to develop tension when you’re there.

9. Hand release

I think we learned this one from Ferruggia. 
Another ninja-level progression that will put some hair on your chest. 

10. Shoulder taps

More core…
More shoulder stability…
More looks at the beach….

11. Hand walks 

We like to use this one when teaching push-ups.
Not only do you get some extra shoulder action,
You actually get a little break in there as you walk over with your hands. 
Plus, it gives you an opportunity to practice “screwing your hands into the floor” every rep. 

12. Spiderman

How about a little extra range of motion in the hips? 
How about a little extra core work? 
How about a bad-ass progression that will have the rest of the gym cheering you on? 
Plus, who doesn’t want to be a super-hero? 

13. Wide-stance 

This is a great movement to stabilize yourself when learning push-ups.
Try this out if you’re struggling to dial in that picture-perfect technique. 

14. Close grip 

Horseshoe triceps?
Boulder shoulders like Captain America? 
Throw down some close grips.

15. Tempo push-ups

We talked about tempo lifting here.
Basically, this version is meant to increase the size of your slow twitch muscle fibres.
This is great if you want to get jacked,
But also great if you want to create more fatigue resistance in your upper body…
For things like swimming,
Chasing down bad guys…
You know how it is. 


When it comes to the upper body, 
Nothing beats a rock-solid, 
Arm shredding movement like the push-up.
Try out some of these moves to start getting jacked. 

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