Get big arms faster: use the diamond push up variation. Here’s how and why...

Research reveals the move that REALLY works your arms the best

How to do Diamond push up
(Image credit: Devan Kline)

Thanks to gym lockdown, a move that's gone from retro obscurity to renewed popularity is the humble push-up. Done the right way there's evidence that Push ups are just as good as a bench press, and whole some push up variations are easy but not that effective, there is one that research suggests is the most effective way to get big arms faster, without being insanely hard. It truly is a diamond amongst bodyweight workout moves. Literally: it’s the diamond push up.

For people without home gym equipment, old favourites for gaining summer body muscle such as the bench press and deadlift are no longer available. However, if you're looking for big arms, there's one move you can do with no equipment at all. 

When it comes to impressive arms, many people look to get big biceps as the benchmark. However, the triceps, the muscle group on the back of your arms, are actually larger than your biceps, meaning they have more potential to grow. 

Obviously, you need to train both if you want to become a strong, well-rounded athlete: neglecting any muscle group will result in an imbalance of strength, and you might end up looking like Popeye. Having said that, strong forearms could actually help you live longer, research suggests.

Specifically, for larger arms, doing bicep curls with a set of dumbbells, for instance, is very inefficient compared to the close-grip, or diamond push up – also known as the triangle push up. In both cases the name refers to the shape made by your fingers.

Press up

A standard push up: easy-peasy compared to a diamond or triangle push up

(Image credit: Leon Poultney)

Diamond push up: maximise triceps activation

A study from the American Council on Exercise looks at tricep muscle activation during eight different moves. These included tricep dips, overhead tricep extensions with dumbbells and even the close-grip bench press.

However, nothing compared to the triangle push up, with the move activating 100% of the long and lateral tricep heads (the two different parts of the muscle group). Essentially, when it comes to activating your triceps, the largest muscle group in your arms, there's no better move than the triangle push up. 

Tricep kickbacks and dips are closest, which means with a single dumbbell and a sturdy chair (please be careful!) to perform dips on, you can create a solid arm workout with three killer moves. Handy if you're about to hit the beach.

How to do diamond push ups

Go down on your knees, then place both hands on the floor close to each other with your thumbs and index fingers forming a diamond shape. From here, straighten your body so your weight is resting on the balls of your feet and your hands. For an easier variety, you can try knee-diamond push ups.

In either case, core should be engaged to help keeping the body straight and to stabilise it too. The rest of the process is similar to standard push ups: lower your upper body by bending your arm in the elbow then pushing you back up into the starting position.

As for hand placement, the diamond shape formed by your hands should be under your chest and as you go down, make sure your elbows don't flare out to the sides. Keeping the elbows tucked in can help you activate the triceps even more.

Diamond push up: tips and variations

Want to make it a more complete upper-body workout? Add in some regular push ups, which also activate your pectoral muscles and core. To better your core, you might want to introduce at least a couple of the best core exercises to your workout regimen, either at home or in the gym.

Also, pick yourself up a set of gymnastics rings. These can be hung anywhere, from the top of a door to a climbing frame to a tree in the park. Whether you're performing tricep dips, push ups, pull-ups or rows, the added instability taxes your muscles, helping them to grow even more.

A slightly more expensive but also more versatile option would be to get a suspension training system, such as the TRX Home 2 set, which can effectively work your whole body and is a great addition to the best calisthenics home workout

Sundried wooden gymnastics rings | was £40.00 | now £22.00 from Amazon

Sundried wooden gymnastics rings | was £40.00 | now £22.00 from Amazon
These wooden rings with webbing straps are easy to assemble on any overhanging surface and offer a really tough, demanding workout. Combining the best of suspension trainers, pull-up apparatus and gymnastics equipment, the steep learning curve is offset by the epic balancing moves and ripped muscles you'll soon be showing off.

Matt Evans

Matt Evans now works for sister brand TechRadar, covering all things relating to fitness and wellness. He came to as staff writer before moving on, and was previously on Men's Health, and slightly counterintuitively, a website devoted to the consumption of Scotch whiskey. In his free time, he could often be found with his nose in a book until he discovered the Kindle.