For many, standard push ups are difficult to do as is. However, after a bit of practice, you will be able to master this excellent bodyweight exercise relatively soon. That's when push up variations come into play. Here, we listed five push up variations you probably never heard of, ones that will build broad chest and big arms.
Did you know that push ups are just as good as a bench press if you want to get big arms, according to science? That's right, you can build big pecs and arms with push ups but admittedly, standard push ups will become relatively easy after a while and you must switch up your push up game if you want to carry on sculpting the upper body of Chris Hemsworth.
• The best push up workouts to get big arms AND a broad chest (opens in new tab)
By introducing different push up variations to your best home workout routine, you can make sure your arm muscles will continue to grow and don't get too used to the exercises you're doing at any given point. Different types of push ups usually put one area under more stress than the others, effectively stimulating muscles more efficiently.
Don't know how to do push ups? You might want to start with the easiest push up variation and work you way up to more difficult varieties. Push ups require a strong core so make sure you include the best core exercises in your workout routine. Also, stop doing push ups wrong by avoiding these common pushup mistakes.
Push up variations you haven't heard before
Tiger-bend push up
Best for: triceps activation
Tiger-bend push ups can be done in a few different ways but the key element in all of them is that you will need to push your body up from a low plank position using nothing but your triceps. This requires nice and tucked elbows – don't let them flare out – and a rock-solid core.
As always, you don't need explosive movement for effective muscle building, a slow and controlled upward and downward motion will put plenty of pressure on the muscles and activate the triceps and pecs more than 'half-repping' your way through the set.
Scorpion push up
Best for: core activation
You might have heard of the Spiderman push up – when you drive your knee up towards your chest along the side of your body as you perform push ups – but there is another, probable lesser know arachnid-related push up variation called the scorpion push up.
Scorpion push ups really challenge your core and your glutes as well as your arms and pecs. By removing one of the ground-contact points by lifting one of your leg up, you effectively throw your body off balance, forcing your core to work harder to keep you balanced.
Navy SEAL burpees
Best for: building explosive power
Okay, technically this exercise is a burpee and not a push up variation but we included it here nevertheless for multiple reasons. First of all, during Navy SEAL burpees, you will perform three push ups for each burpee-jump you do. Secondly, it is just an amazing exercise that really works the arms and the pecs but also the abs and your endurance. It also burns a hell of a lot calories too.
Typewriter push ups
Best for: building unilateral strength
Much like archer push ups, typewriter push ups work really well in isolating one side of the body and working the arms individually. But unlike archer push ups, typewriter push ups don't require you to be strong enough to be able to hold the push up position with just one arm. Get ready for one handed push ups with this push up variation!
Hindu push up (dive through push up)
Best for: increasing mobility and flexibility
PTs like to talk about 'full range of motion' when they explain exercises and with hindu push ups, you not only perform a full range of motion but also introduce hamstring stretching to your push ups. Flexible hamstrings will make you more mobile and strong arms will make you look more jacked. The perfect combination.
Pseudo planche push up
Best for: biceps gains
You might know this variation as biceps push up as pseudo planche really works the biceps, which is pretty unusual for a push up variation as they most usually 'only' work the triceps, pecs and delts. Not the pseudo planche push up: by rotating your hands back and moving the arm further back, you activate the biceps way more than doing standard push ups.
Fingertip push ups
In-depth: how to do fingertip push ups
Fingertip push-ups do wonders for your forearms. You can use dumbbells or pull-up bars to build forearm strength; I particularly like dead hangs for the purpose of increasing forearm strength, hence why I included it in my workout routine to ease back pain.
However, fingertip push-ups are better than dead hangs in the sense that it doesn't require any external equipment, not even parallettes, a home gym equipment I always recommend to reduce wrist pain during push-ups.