The Many Push Up Variations

The push up is a versatile exercise with many different variations that change which parts of the upper body takes on your body weight. After mastering the standard push up try out some of these more challenging push up variations.

Each variation slightly changes the primary target muscle placing more emphasis on 1 muscle than another.

What Muscles Will These Push Up Variations Train?

These push-ups variations allow you to target these muscle groups:

  • Biceps
  • Chest (Pectoralis Major)
  • Triceps
  • Deltoids (Shoulders)
  • Core

Level 1: Pike Push Up

The pike push up is a variation that places a lot of strain on your shoulders. This push up variation is essential to learning the handstand push up and can help build the shoulder strength needed to perform the static handstand hold. To do the pike push up enter the standard push up position and walk your hands backward as far as you can. You will then do a push up loading your weight onto your shoulders and pushing back up.

Typical Routine: 3 sets of 10 repetitions

Level 2: Diamond Push Up

Also sometimes referred to as military push ups, diamond push ups require you place your hands close together and form a diamond with the space between your thumbs and index finger. This push up variation places much more stress on the triceps and is essential for building bigger arms.

Typical Routine: 3 sets of 10 repetitions

Level 3: Archer Push Up

The archer push up starts with your hands placed in a wide push up grip. Instead of pushing yourself up and down you will lean towards 1 side while straightening your arm on the opposite side. Once your arm is fully extended look in that arm’s direction to complete the rep. Each rep counts once you’ve looked in the opposite direction of the arm you bent.

Typical Routine: 3 sets of 10 repetitions

Level 4: Shoulder Tap Push Up

Shoulder tap push ups are a fun push up variation that engages your core and stabilizer muscles. Start in your standard push up position and after you push yourself back up keep your hips pointed at the ground and raise 1 arm to tap the opposite arm’s shoulder. It is important to keep your hips pointed at the ground during this exercise to engage your core and stabilizer muscles properly.

Typical Routine: 3 sets of 10 repetitions

If you’re struggling to perform any of these variations and want to relearn the basic push up check out our beginner’s push-up progression guide.